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A cooling trend

Forget the gowns. Higher hemlines are hipper and help beat the heat.

September 12, 2007|Elizabeth Snead | Special to The Times

Will Emmy fashion take a short cut this year? Fashion insiders are whispering about a possible Emmy fashion revolution designed to do away with the big, cumbersome awards ball gown.

The shorter, sassier "cocktail length" dress -- a hemline worn by Annette Bening and Eva Longoria at the 2006 Emmys -- is now deemed an appropriate warm-weather alternative to a long gown.

"Those big overblown gowns are so over. Shorter just makes sense now to a lot of actresses I've been talking to," says an L.A. fashion industry insider. "It's just kickier and younger. Plus, it's too hot in mid-September to wear a full-on ball gown."

There's also the polite "tea-length" hem that hovers just above the ankles. "It takes an actress with long legs to pull this off," sniffed one celebrity stylist. "Otherwise, it just looks dumpy."

Christos Garkinos, owner of Decadestwo, one of L.A.'s vintage designer boutiques, agrees about the short cuts. "I do think we're going to see more actresses wearing shorter lengths this year. Hemlines have gone higher this season and women of all ages look good in shorter skirts."

Not everyone feels that short is chic. "The longer gown is still seen by most awards observers as being more appropriate and respectful of the event," says Tom Julian, Oscar.com's style expert.

But perhaps paving the way for a short cut, Oscar-winner Charlize Theron stepped out at the Hollywood Foreign Press annual installation luncheon last month wearing a wow-inducing bright green silk Stella McCartney mini-dress.

As for color, some style seers say the Emmy red carpet will be shimmering with silver, gray and bronze metallic fabrics, à la the fall/winter '07 European couture shows. Others, such as Brooke Pace of the Marilyn Heston Agency, a liaison among actresses, stylists and designers, insist the show will be popping with Resort '07 brights such as rich red, fuchsia, ripe melon, citrus hues as well as cream, champagne, even some blue.

"Designers' resort collections, always more colorful than fall/winter fashions, are becoming a preferred choice for the Emmys due to the increasingly warm weather in September," says Pace.

This year, more so than in recent years, actresses' personal stylists are also doing some last-minute shopping at the spring '08 shows during Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week (which ends today) in hopes of spotting a drop-dead dress or cutting-edge creation.

But they'll have to fight Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and other magazines for the best dresses. Editorial fashion shoots are planned immediately after the shows to make the mags' spring issue deadlines.

According to Merle Ginsberg, editor in chief of GenLux, an L.A.-based fashion mag, only A-listers would have a shot at a spring '08 dress from a top designer.

Emmy-going TV actresses must also fight for couture frocks with Oscar hopeful film stars -- Theron, Keira Knightley, Diane Krueger, Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie -- who often demand couture-and-only-couture for the Venice Film Festival, which closed this week.

"If you want to get a great Emmy dress from Prada, Lanvin or Zac Posen, you have to shop early," says Ginsberg. "Only the fashiony Emmy actresses will get access to the best dresses later."

Fashiony means actresses such as "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off star Kate Walsh. But she's probably been more obsessed with her wedding gown (she married in late August) than an Emmy outfit. And "The Starter Wife" star and longtime Emmy fav Debra Messing, now being dressed by super-sleek stylist Rachel Zoe, along with "Heroes" hottie Ali Larter, who wore a Reem Acra Grecian gown she'd tried on just seven hours before last year's Golden Globes. Also fashiony: Teri Hatcher, but she's expected to wear Badgley Mischka because she's now the line's their new contracted spokesmodel.

Fashiony also means "Grey's" star Ellen Pompeo, who was spotted this summer sitting in the front row at the John Galliano for Dior couture show held at Versailles. No confirmations from the design house or the actress' camp on whether she'll wear Dior to the Emmys though. But it is de rigueur to do so.

"If they've taken a first-class airline ticket and stayed in the five-star hotel, they're wearing the dress," Ginsberg states unequivocally.

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