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Unadorned Attitude

January 14, 1994|BETTY GOODWIN

The Series: "Ricki Lake," airing 5 p.m. weekdays on KCOP, Channel 13.

The Setup: Former fringe film actress Ricki Lake (pictured) dropped about half her body weight and gained a daytime talk show. The youthful host stands among the audience as she shoots questions at a motley panel of guests.

Inspiration: Input from her producers and focus groups. Lake's personal comfort zone dictates no high heels, ever, she swears.

The Look: Expecting to see a punked-out teen queen with a pierced nose? Lake is hardly that, although she's sometimes shrouded in black from head to toe and occasionally stomps around in combat-style boots.

Nearly svelte, having dropped from a Size 12/14 to an 8/10 in 25 weeks of taping, Lake dresses like almost any savvy young New York professional. She relies primarily on tailored separates--in mostly dark solids--with little dashes of costume jewelry. (She's big on hearts.)

Hit: Showing just enough attitude to satisfy her growing, youthful female audience, Lake also manages to make her daytime competitors look a little bit old hat. One recent afternoon, leather-clad Oprah Winfrey went for flash; Leeza Gibbons went for sexy in a tight, military-style suit, and Sally Jessy Raphael went for younger-than-springtime in a baby-pink suit. But Lake went for understatement in a black trouser suit, charcoal-gray turtleneck and silver ball earrings. Period.

Miss: Still evolving in the style department, Lake has had her fair share of setbacks. For one, she seemingly repeats a certain long black blazer--or others that look just like it--several times a week, as if she were posing for a women's magazine feature on a dozen ways to stretch a basic. Also, her jackets often fit too tight across the chest and too long in the cuffs.

Hemline Watch: From three to four inches above the knee to lower mid-calf.

Quoted: "She's very unadorned and doesn't obsess with clothing," says co-executive producer Gail Steinberg. "I've never even seen her carry a purse. That's Ricki. She's just unadorned."

Excellent Hair Day: In a field where power hair is frequently power sprayed, Lake's shiny brown locks simply fall on her shoulders.

Sources: Labels include Episode and Zelda for separates and Agatha for costume jewelry.

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