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THE 49TH ANNUAL EMMY AWARDS

Glamour Defined as Bare and Spare

September 15, 1997|MIMI AVINS | TIMES FASHION EDITOR

Ellen DeGeneres never wears dresses. So the rest of the Emmy presenters, nominees and friends were free to compete for the limelight in theirs at the Emmy Awards presentation. By day, the women of prime-time television toil as faux nurses, cops and investigators of paranormal phenomena. Sunday night at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, the most coveted role was that of show-stopping glamour puss.

The winner was Helen Hunt, who spent most of last season wearing a prosthetic pregnant belly on camera but shone as bright as a statuette in a slender, spaghetti-strapped silver gown by Laurel, a German label that doesn't even mention its designer's name. The fact that she looked fabulous in a dress off the rack should have been encouraging to women who think that only specially designed gowns can register in a crowd packed with designer originals.

You could almost hear the men dressing for the Emmys whining at home, "Do I have to wear a tuxedo?" Several attempted a compromise by choosing traditional tux jackets but abandoning stiff shirts, studs and bow ties in favor of regular dress shirts and solid ties. That look, adopted by Noah Wyle, Bill Maher, Hector Elizondo and Robert Duvall, scored 7.8 for experimentation but a weak 2.0 for appeal.

Did Ellen wear a dress? Of course not.

Her brown brocade pantsuit matched the stunning, beaded chocolate V-neck slink worn by her smiling companion, Anne Heche.

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