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In living color

The red carpet saw black and white, but eye-catching shades were the winners.

September 20, 2004|Mimi Avins | Times Staff Writer

Common decency imposes limits on criticizing who wore what to the Emmy Awards, even if some stars seem to show up without having encountered a full-length mirror. Dissing the old and/or out of shape would be taking a cheap shot, and the young and/or beautiful seldom look terrible enough to make you want to hurl your plate of nachos at the TV.

The wonder, of course, is that any woman with a posse of professional primpers can fail to look fabulous. But good fashion intentions can go bad often enough to make the truly fabulous stand out. Mariska Hargitay and Allison Janney led the standouts Sunday at the Shrine in slinky dresses of grass-green matte jersey.

Among the other bracing shades to catch the eye were tones of orange, from tangerine to shrimp. New mother Debra Messing chose a pretty, ruffled shrimp strapless that looked, above all, comfortable. Kathryn Morris' elegant flame-colored gown banished any images of the mannish suits she wears on "Cold Case."

When dressing up becomes a chore rather than a job perk, the ennui is as obvious as an errant bra strap. Brava to Heather Locklear, who looks like she still enjoys putting on a festive, coral scarf-printed gown adorned with its own jewelry.

Sarah Jessica Parker has become such a style icon that attention is always paid. In a strapless black lace Chanel gown with an artfully shredded, diaphanous skirt, she was among those legion who abandoned their flatirons and let their long hair go wavy -- Teri Hatcher, Laura Linney, Portia de Rossi, Janel Moloney, Bonnie Hunt, Kristin Davis.

White was a popular choice among women not afraid to look like brides -- Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, Felicity Huffman and Joely Richardson, looking sexier than most women dare on their wedding day in an asymmetric white satin gown with a thigh-high slit.

Sharon Stone, very Jean Harlow in a shimmering, bare lavender gown and Cynthia Nixon, in a tobacco jersey gown, were among those in sleek, unembellished dresses that proved plain doesn't have to be dull. Janel Moloney (in a pure strapless yellow column by Vera Wang), Patricia Heaton and Bonnie Hunt all made simple stunning.

Bright colors didn't completely rule out black. Laura Linney and Kristin Davis did well raiding Prada's closet. Edie Falco was lovely in a black confection by Randolph Duke and short pixie 'do. Anne Heche's black Giorgio Armani offered haute pasties over her breasts and Drea de Matteo looked like a Renaissance princess in a demure black gown embellished with golden embroidery.

It would be hard to compete with "The O.C." star Mischa Barton's golden flapper dress by Maggie Norris. Luckily, no one tried.

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