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Looking good on the red carpet

Yes, genetics have been kind to stars, but they also have their secrets.

January 15, 2007|Sandy Cohen | Associated Press

With Hollywood's awards season underway, fans will see plenty of stunning gowns, sculpted bodies, flawless skin and camera-ready coifs on red carpets around town.

What they won't see are the industrial-strength girdles, silicone nipple covers, fake hair and skin treatments beneath those flawless facades.

Stylists work overtime during the six-week stretch from the Golden Globes to the Oscars, and it typically takes a team to ready stars for their stroll down the red-carpet runway. Some of Hollywood's most coveted image experts took time out to share their style secrets.

The first step? A body-enhancing airbrush tan, says spray-tanner-to-the-stars Jimmy Coco, who expects to wield his tanning wand at least 100 times before the Academy Awards.

These tans do more than lend a healthy glow -- they can also add muscle definition where none exists, says Coco, who has worked with such beauties as Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Jenny McCarthy and Lara Flynn Boyle.

"If they haven't quite been to the gym, I can make it look as though they have," Coco says. "I give them an even glow and lightly etch in where the muscle is."

Next come body-shaping undergarments. Stylists swear by Spanx, a brand of body-shapers that promise to "rescue women from love handles, waistline spillage and cellulite," according to the company's website.

"They go from under your bust line to the top of your knee," says celebrity stylist Inge Fonteyne, who has worked with models Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima. "It compacts all your blemishes you want to smooth out. The key is to be seamless and bumpless."

Breasts have their own set of needs. Busty beauties who want to wear backless gowns often turn to self-sticking bras made of adhesive-backed silicone cups that fit separately over each breast.

Less-endowed women might go braless but opt for some kind of breast cover to maintain modesty. These days, stores sell silicone versions that are undetectable under dresses, but stylists and stars weren't always so fortunate.

"We would literally put cotton balls on clients and put [tape] on top of the cotton ball," says stylist Estee Stanley, who helped develop Frederick's Flex Body Bra. "It was like a science project."

Natural fabrics are easily marred by sweat, so stars plan ahead to keep palms and armpits from perspiring.

"With a silk dress, anything you touch will make a stain," Fonteyne says. "One drop spreads like it's the ocean under your arm."

One solution is Botox, which paralyzes overactive glands to temporarily stop sweating. Another is Drysol, a prescription treatment Fonteyne swears by that "dries up" sweat glands.

Then there's the hair. Stars weren't born with the lush manes you see on the red carpet. It's all about extensions, says Hollywood hairdresser Michael Shaun Corby, creative director for Alterna hair care.

"Celebrities get extensions like crazy for Oscar season because they want their hair to be thicker," he says.

Stars who don't want to make a major commitment might opt for "hair for a day," he says: quick, clip-on extensions that can be removed at the end of the night.

Corby even uses extra hair for up-dos. He wraps hair clippings in a hairnet and stuffs that inside buns and chignons "for that huge, full look."

Corby used to use ironing starch to tame hair static in a pinch before Alterna developed an antistatic hairspray, he says.

Men have it relatively easy on the red carpet. Their fashions aren't figure-flaunting, so they can forgo almost all of the above. But they still have to look their best, so most wear makeup, Coco says.

Still, male red-carpet preparation pales compared with the Aphroditean efforts female stars make.

"They can't look that great all the time," he says of the women. "They go the extra mile for a red-carpet event. From the toenails to the tips of the strands of their hair, every inch of their body has had something done."

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