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Celebrities turn low key at NY Fashion Week

Tuesday - 9/10/2013, 8:32am  ET

The Donna Karan Spring 2014 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

SAMANTHA CRITCHELL
AP Fashion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Fashion insiders love to dress celebrities for big splashy Hollywood events, but they don't necessarily want them at their own big splashy event: New York Fashion Week.

As spring previews slid into their fifth day, there has been some departure from the approach of putting boldface names in the coveted front row seats -- and letting them steal some of the thunder from designers.

Oscar de la Renta limited his guest list, telling Women's Wear Daily he was focusing on the people who had a real reason to be there, not "20 million people with zero connection to the clothes." Tommy Hilfiger, once a celebrity magnet, said Monday that he wanted to return the focus to fashion.

"I don't like the drama in the fashion world. I like to do our thing without the drama," he said backstage before his show.

There were still plenty of tabloid favorites -- Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan have all made appearances -- but they are more of a rarity than in years past, when they were invited en masse and thrown in front of paparazzi. How many people were really focused on the Herve Leger dresses on the runway Saturday when Nicki Minaj was right in front of them? (At least designer Max Azria was smart enough to put her in a new look from the spring collection.)

For the celebrities-turned-designers, it's an even more careful dance. Katie Holmes, Victoria Beckham, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have all made long-term commitments to their fashion brands, slowly and delicately courting editors, stylists and retailers, instead of the paparazzi.

The Olsen twins moved their show from the Upper East Side to Soho downtown, far from the Lincoln Center tents, for their intimate unveiling.

Holmes and her partner, Jeanne Yang, invited no photographers -- save one house cameraman -- and only a couple of dozen top-tier editors and stylists for their show in a Chelsea gallery space close to the Garment District.

"It's in my neighborhood. We walked here," Holmes said.

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TOMMY HILFIGER

Hilfiger filled a hangarlike venue on the West Side with sand and built his own boardwalk for surf-inspired styles.

"It's really from the inspiration of Melrose to Malibu, and we brought Malibu to New York," he said. "It's about surfing and skating, sporty lifestyles, about color and the modern cool woman."

There were colorblocked neoprene pieces -- one of the biggest trends emerging from these seasonal previews -- shown alongside denim and olive surplus styles.

Top model Joan Smalls had on a leather basketball jersey (No. 1, of course) paired with denim track pants.

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THE ROW

The Olsens draped their gallery space with gauzy fabric for a look at clothes that seemed what a woman of means, but one who shuns the spotlight or fuss, would take on safari.

Wonder if the twins are planning a trip?

Two years ago, they won the Council of Fashion Designers of America's top prize in womenswear and continue with the aesthetic that got them there. Shapes are long, lean and worn in lots of layers. Some of the clothes were purposely crinkled or with unfinished edges.

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CAROLINA HERRERA

Herrera was among the exceptions to that low-key celebrity thing.

Her guests included Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, the R&B singer Ne-Yo, "Mad Men" actress Christina Hendricks and "Downton Abbey" star Michelle Dockery.

The packed crowd was regaled with elegant, ethereal gowns featuring geometric motifs enhanced by the layering of fabrics, which gave them the appearance of constant movement.

The inspiration? Kinetic art, or art in motion. "It's the reaction of two layers -- I find that this is totally kinetic," Herrera said in a post-show interview, as well-wishers crushed around her. "It creates its own movement."

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HOLMES & YANG

Holmes and Yang said their spring collection is about wearable elegance.

The mix they offered included a black silk V-neck gown with leather trim and a khaki camp-style shirtdress with a lace-up V at the neck.

The duo said they wanted to start their business quietly, grow slowly and do it right.

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DONNA KARAN

The best of Karan's spring collection was classic Karan, day-to-night stretch dresses (especially a one-shouldered, block-print number), coats that you wouldn't want to take off, a man-tailored shirt definitively cut for a woman.

There were rich colors of tobacco and terra-cotta, and it seemed navy was Karan's new black.

She opened the show with a series of indigo-colored viscose dresses. There also were beaded, wrap miniskirts with silk tunics barely tucked into the waistband.

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