Celebs find Fashion Week runways can be slippery

Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:34am EST
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By Alicia Powell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Celebrities launching fashion lines don't always transfer their fame to runway success, but a sprinkling of big names such as Victoria Beckham, Gwen Stefani and twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are becoming seasoned campaigners.

All four have collections showing during this week's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, and while none are as respected as top American designers, they have earned loyal followings by carving out niches, paying attention to tailoring and showing collections away from the glare of the key catwalks.

Celebrities who have tried their hands at fashion have often been criticized or quickly closed their collections. Jennifer Lopez and Lindsay Lohan both struggled, and Kanye West's recent clothing line debut in Paris was lampooned by some.

In the often prickly and elitist world of fashion, stars of movies, music and TV looking to join the club are measured by sometimes harsher standards than up-and-coming or little-known designers, according to experts such as Tracy Taylor, U.S. editor for online fashion magazine Net-A-Porter.

"It's more difficult for a celebrity to launch a clothing line. Honestly, the eyes and ears of the world are on them," Taylor told Reuters, adding that it was not only customers but "the eyes of this rarified group that almost is unattainable for celebrities -- and that's to be a fashion designer."

Being a Hollywood star is wrapped in style and image, so naturally many celebs stray into the world of fashion, she said.

"There's nothing cooler these days than to be a designer. Being a celebrity is great, but I think a lot of them who fancy themselves well-dressed and like to put their best foot forward ... hold designers in high regard."