NEW YORK - Katie Holmes greeted well-wishers in a black leather blazer and gold beaded heels as she became the latest celebrity to take a serious stab at fashion with her Holmes & Yang preview at New York Fashion Week last week.
The celebrities who once lined the front rows of these seasonal previews in party dresses have increasingly made their way backstage into positions of power.
Celebrity names are commonplace on mass-market brands: The Kardashian sisters, Venus Williams, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Avril Lavigne, Daisy Fuentes, Heidi Klum and reality stars Whitney Port and Lauren Conrad each have department-store brands.
But a handful have also become serious fashion forces. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are among the most imitated - or sincerely flattered - U.S. designers for their brand The Row, and this year were named top womenswear designers by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Victoria Beckham's previews are among the week's most hotly anticipated, and paparazzi-free.
Gwen Stefani, Nicole Richie and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe have also pulled away from the pack.
"The lines that are successful are very authentic," said Susan Kaufman, editor in chief of People StyleWatch. "The key is the celebrity being involved, being involved in the look and the concept, and to be proud to wear the clothes."
On that measure, Holmes seems ready to join the club. Showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week seems a major commitment to the brand. "It was very clean but with a cool factor," Kaufman said. "I can easily see her (Holmes) wearing it."
Holmes might have tipped off the paparazzi on how to find her: They should look for a woman a camel-colored suede capelet with red shorts, or, if it's later in the day, maybe a strapless jumpsuit with beaded fringe running down the side.
Holmes and her design partner and longtime stylist, Jeanne Yang, didn't have a runway, just 14 models on pedestals.
One wore a black leather lingerie-style camisole with an olive silk button-front maxi skirt, and another had on a black lace slouchy blazer with black lace short - an outfit right on trend with what tastemakers have been seeing this round of previews.
Many of the outfits hit on the menswear silhouettes and luxury fabrics Holmes favors.