NEW YORK • It is a tried-and-true ritual of New York Fashion Week.
Designers hold shows and invite a few celebrities to sit in the front row, perhaps the star of a new hit television series or a rising ingenue or even someone who has recently won an Oscar or who may be nominated for one. Sometimes money is exchanged or clothes given or old favours called in.
Said celebrity arrives a few minutes before the show, poses fetchingly for the scrum of photographers gathered in front of her and answers a few questions from the fashion press, largely along the lines of, "Oh, I just love his clothes" or "We've been friends for years and I wanted to come to show my support". Not this year.
Singer Lady Gaga, when asked to say something about her stylist- turned-fashion-designer Brandon Maxwell, after having flown directly from the Grammys so she could be at his show last Tuesday night, just silently shook her head. Also taking a "no interviews" stance were her front-row seatmates Carine Roitfeld, the French magazine editor, and Terry Richardson, the fashion photographer.
Actress Katie Holmes at Zac Posen? No press. Actress Zoe Kravitz and TV star-model Kylie Jenner at Alexander Wang? Not talking. Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson at Jason Wu, Michael Kors and DKNY? No, no and no.
What gives? The publicists and celebrity wranglers at the shows were not talking either.
A top public relations executive, when approached at one of the fashion shows where Hudson sat mutely in the front row, was asked if he would discuss the no- interview policy. He shook his head vigorously, laughed mirthlessly and walked away.
Another said: "Oh, is that happening? Gosh, I hadn't noticed", before quickly ending the conversation.
Of course, not everyone was keeping the press at bay.
Actress Kate Bosworth - who turned out to be the Zelig of fashion week, with appearances at Carolina Herrera, Altuzarra, Tory Burch, Rebecca Minkoff and other shows - cheerfully answered every question lobbed her way. Cannily, she also used the time to plug her newest project.
"I've just wrapped up shooting a project in London for the BBC called SS-GB," she told a reporter before the Tory Burch show last Tuesday morning.
"It's set in 1941 and envisages what might have happened if the Nazis had invaded Great Britain," she said, adding, "Fashion week has been providing me with some light relief."
And actress Sienna Miller, seated front row at Ralph Lauren between David Lauren and Anna Wintour, was a designer's dream date, not only talking to a WWD reporter at length about her love for the designer's work, but also singling out two specific looks on the runway that she already was contemplating wearing.
"That black velvet jumpsuit is so beautiful," she said. "And that red V-neck gown, the colour of that fabric was breathtaking."
Then there was actress Blake Lively at Michael Kors, who not only introduced her mother to a reporter ("She used to make all of our clothes as we were growing up, so I jumped at the chance to bring her along"), but also was bracingly honest about one of the reasons she had ventured out on a chilly Wednesday morning to see a fashion show.
She hoped to see the designer after the show, she said, adding: "Then it's back to the hotel to order a lot of room service. Because it's Michael who will be paying."
NEW YORK TIMES