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To Stay Way Cool, Sleek Simplicity

THE 48TH ANNUAL EMMY AWARDS | THE STYLE / What They
Wore

September 09, 1996|MIMI AVINS | TIMES FASHION EDITOR

Oh, who cares who won, as long as everyone looked good. And they did.

Emmy nominees, presenters and friends braved Sunday's tropical heat by wearing as little as possible, gowns that bared backs, arms and chests to the stinging afternoon sun outside the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Pity the poor men in their jackets, limited to vests and varying tie and collar styles if they yearned for novelty.

Green, the color of cucumbers, ripe honeydew or lime juice, was at least cool to the eye. Metallic and beaded dresses sparkled like ice, as did the kind of diamond jewelry that demands bodyguards hover in the vicinity. Only the wearers risked melting.

The sleek simplicity that seemed to be the evening's dress code reflected the changing definition of Hollywood glamour, a shift that occurred a few years ago when the designers of high fashion began courting actresses, and vice versa. Before Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang and Richard Tyler became the glamour gods of choice at awards shows, men hauled out their trusty tuxedos and women went to costume designers for one-of-a-kind gowns. Now that evening dresses travel directly from the runway to the podium, actresses are as in style, and as stunning, as models. And when the female writers, producers and directors dress the same as actresses, the sort of Barbie-goes-to-the-awards-show outfits that used to be standard have clearly been relegated to the past.

The slim, narrow shape that has ruled after nightfall for several seasons still looked fresh. Even a supermodel couldn't top Jane Leeves in a slender, backless column of black silk by Nino Cerruti, held up by narrow silver bands curving around the shoulders. Jerry Seinfeld's companion, Shoshanna Lonstein, was poured into a straight, spaghetti-strapped, beaded Badgley Mischka gown in margarita green. Marlo Thomas' red strapless by Vera Wang, Gail O'Grady's beautiful beaded green "Little Mermaid" creation and Julia Louis-Dreyfus' sparkling acid-green gown with matching organza stole by Giorgio Armani proved that the fabulous variations on an unfussy silhouette just keep on coming.

Not all the elegant, simple gowns came in living color. Helen Hunt's one-shoulder, ink-blue velvet dress by Calvin Klein and Sela Ward's streak of black by Giorgio Armani proved how dazzling dark can be after dark. Herve Leger's bandage dresses always look best in black, a fact Fran Drescher and Mira Sorvino obviously discovered while shopping.

The corporal zone most in view was the shoulders, thanks to many halter necklines cut to expose some women's dedication to defined deltoids. Among those who might have thanked their trainers were Oprah Winfrey, in the program's opening, and Diana Scarwid, in gunmetal gray by Vera Wang. Candice Bergen, sporting a new, short haircut, represented both the trend toward metallics and the penchant for bare shoulders in a silvery halter dress.

Preferred currency was gold, silver or bronze: Heather Locklear's aqua and silver slinky of a dress, trimmed in metallic leather, and Winfrey's long-sleeved, V-neck bronze gown, both by Richard Tyler; Christine Lahti's bias-cut covering of molten gold satin by Calvin Klein; Sharon Lawrence's long-sleeved golden lace dress by Chanel; and Christine Baranski's halter gown--in a gold high-wattage enough to shine in a blackout.

When Tracey Ullman strode on stage in a short, cap-sleeved, sequined T-shirt dress, looking at once adorable and comfortable, women who'd chosen to hide their great legs wondered: "Why didn't I think of that?"

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