From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
What a year in fashion! We gave Lady Liberty a face lift, Paris gave us the bustle and Cher gave Oscar bare hug. So when better to ask an eclectic panel help? Ours included an ex-madam, a running back, Jerry Falwell and Frank Zappa (see page 5). They rated the nominees from 0 to 10; we rounded off the scores. The result: A Playboy playmate ties the Pope, and other strange verdicts. Here, then, is our annual peek at the chic and the bleak—but, they, don't blame us.

6 Having learned on Knots Landing that a lady should never be too vulnerable, Donna Mills, 41, now seems to favor steel-tipped shoulders for everyday wear. "A dangerous-looking dress," said Zappa. Designer Cathy Hardwick was especially alarmed by the earrings, which were "totally wrong." Transvestite actor Divine took affront: "Falsies on her shoulders!" Falwell, though, smiled and said, "Now, I like this one."

7 Some like it dark, and Jack Nicholson, 49, is leader of the black pack. "This is a concerted effort to look harmless," observed playwright Wendy Wasserstein, but Hardwick said, "He looks fine, typical, in good taste." Predictable but boring.

6 Daughter Chastity recently pleaded with mom Cher, 40, to "wear a mother dress" to a school function. Wasserstein thinks this may be it: "A good PTA look." As for the bare midriff, "Her belly button is the center of her universe," said cable TV host Max Headroom. "There's even a thing around her neck pointing to her belly button." Zappa preferred "simpler stuff," adding: "I don't think this works on her." But London designer Lindka Cierach, who created Fergie's wedding dress, stood firm: "She can get away with anything." And does.

9 Lady Liberty, newly 100, has given us so much: inspiration, hope, the layered look. "The greatest toga I've seen since my last bacchanalia," raved ex-Mayflower Madam Sydney Biddle Barrows. Quibble about her sandals if you must, but for a woman who doesn't get around much she's strictly now. "The spikes are very punk," noted Headroom. Yet, a woman this beloved is always going to be stung by envy. "I wish I had her publicity agent," sighed Divine.

3 Bruce Springsteen's style is pure Dressing in the Dark. "He looks okay if he's going to a duck blind," said Chicago Bears superstar Walter Payton of the Boss, 37. Headroom suspected a revolution: "I had no idea Che Guevara was a rock star." Paris designer Jean-Paul Gaultier preferred him in tight jeans and T-shirts. Perhaps it takes a rocker to know a rocker—Zappa was understanding: "He's done a good job putting together things that don't go together." Sorry, Bruce: worst live performance of the year.

All that's gold does not glitter

2 How could Patti D'Arbanville, 35 (below), who lived with Don Johnson, make such a tragic miscalculation? "Carmen Miranda died many years ago, and this dress should have died with her," said author Jackie Collins. Not all the judges thought she was en route to a flamenco festival; Headroom thought she had been mugged by a fruit salad. Suggested Falwell: "She was probably in a good mood and wanted to try something different." Wherever the dress takes her, she should travel in nonsmoking. "The dress looks flammable," warned Zappa.

4 Does this make your Top 10 of the year? Top 40? Even payola wouldn't get the dress of Jean Casern (31-year-old wife of disc jockey Casey) on the judges' hit parade. Observed Headroom: "If the creature from the Black Lagoon had a girlfriend, this would be her." Still, the sleeve got everyone's attention, which is probably what it's for. "She gets a 10 from me even though she's got a growth on her arm," said Divine. Payton said she fumbled: "It's a onetime-only dress. If she wore it twice, everybody would say, 'Oh, no, not again.' " Only Gaultier had a nice word: "She's very glamorous. But she's only half an angel. She's missing awing."

4 When we're talking Katharine Ross, 43, we're talking padding. "You could fit five football players into those shoulders," Cierach said. We're also talking glitter. "There's no way she can pass through a metal detector," Wasserstein said. "That dress could prevent terrorism at airports." And we're even talking tacky. "But she didn't take it far enough to be wonderfully tacky," Divine added. Hard-wick said Ross usually "dresses well. I'm sure she was made to wear this." But Falwell blamed the unions: "It appears the designer went on strike just before finishing the job."

4 Her father, Harry, made banana boats a household term, and now Shari Belafonte-Harper, 32, is caught in a dress that was possibly inspired by her kitchen. "I think the dress is mostly cole slaw," Headroom said. Hardwick thought Belafonte-Harper far too pretty for the unflattering garb. "It's too much on top of too much," she said. "The gloves, the lacing at the bust, the embroidery at the sleeve and, to top it off, the headgear." Payton liked what he saw: "Not a lot of women could wear it, but Shari can."

5 Okay, she's beautiful, has a hit show and probably a new man every night of the week if she wants one. So who wants to spoil Cybill Shepherd's fun and tell her that you just don't wear a gold lamé outfit that wrinkles where her gold lamé outfit wrinkles. "The outfit is chic," said Cierach, "but the fabric is appalling because it creases around the crotch." Zappa noted the same problem, but otherwise thought the outfit was functional, especially if Shepherd, 36, is planning to hitchhike: "The fabric will catch the headlights nicely." Divine thought all Shepherd needed was some professional guidance. "I know how to wear gold lamé right," he said. "She should give me a call."

For this they killed an animal?

5 You never hear anything nice about ladies in leather, except maybe from the guys who hang around Times Square. Men can wear leather and you never hear anything bad about them, not even that they crackle when they walk. Did anybody gripe about the way Marlon Brando looked when he wore leather in The Wild One? Or about James Dean in his ratty leather jacket? Give the women on these pages credit for trying, albeit too hard. Take Suzanne Somers, 41. Wasserstein gave her a high mark "because she needs it." Hardwick, however, was kind enough to say the leather outfit made Somers "look hard." Anyway, it's difficult to believe that anybody who wears head-to-toe leather is looking for sympathy.

5 Most of the judges Whoopi'd it up for Goldberg. "For just walking casual, she looks fine here," said Hardwick. "Not bad," added Falwell. Yet, some thought 36-year-old Whoopi's problems were strictly above the neck and below the ankles. "Her hairstyle looks like wet cigars," says Headroom, who still rated her high because "she's got a great smile and with-it personality." Offered Wasserstein: "That's an unacceptable outfit without pumps." Payton was disappointed, though, calling Whoopi's attire suitable only for trips to the grocery store.

3 Could Sylvester Stallone's wife, Brigitte, 23, have existed before there was genetic engineering? Wasserstein was just thinking aloud. Stallone's outfit, which seems to be one part bull and one part matador, did not engender much praise. "The men that used to call me would have hated that," allowed Barrows. Asked Divine: "Who picks out her clothes, Rocky Balboa?"

3 Well at least nobody criticized her hair. Catya Sassoon, 18, daughter of styling king Vidal, proves good taste is not hereditary. Her eye-popping attire had the judges drinking their Vitalis. Hardwick: "I can't imagine anybody wanting to look like this. No one is this desperate." Cierach: "It's revolting; it's disgusting. How on earth does she walk?" Falwell: "It was probably made during the Depression when they were short of material." Zappa: "If you're going to do peekaboo, let's go for it." Collins: "Somebody should pull the string—and fast!" Payton: "It's okay if you're a member of a gang." Gaultier: "I adore the conventional purse with her exhibitionist dress." Why, you might wonder, isn't her score lower? Because Divine, who saw a lot of himself in this photograph, awarded Sassoon a 10.

5 You're dying to know what her sister said about her, aren't you? Well, blood is always thicker than dubious taste and Jackie was very, very diplomatic—she awarded Joan an 8. Nonrelatives were far less discreet. Hardwick called the outfit "pretty horrible," saying that Joan's "head is too big for her body and height, and she looks all squashed in because of her wig and her makeup." She went on to suggest a makeover: "I would try to relax her clothes a bit. She has enormous potential. At her age [53], she should look much more elegant and chic." But Falwell wouldn't alter a thread: "She's very beautiful."

Liz's hit Fergie's flop and Mia's culpa

5 What? Bruce Willis, 31, moonlighting as a bus-boy in a Japanese restaurant? "Too Kabuki," said Wasserstein. Zappa wondered if he was wearing a choir robe, and Headroom thought it was "an opportune curtain he draped over his shoulders." No wonder Cybill keeps saying no.

4 Priscilla Presley, 41 and newly pregnant, was all but cloistered throughout her marriage to Elvis, and now she's wearing hoods. "I don't think Elvis would like her like this," said Gaultier. "Me neither." "She should keep this," said Falwell, "in case she ever decides to live in a monastery." Hardwick's view: "She's beautiful but she should wear unfussy, streamlined clothes that show off her looks." Cierach thought the dress was "quite nice but too many folds." Divine just wanted Elvis' Priscilla back. "I loved her beehive," he said.

8 Prince William, 4, is such a charmer that Headroom said even his heart "warmed at the sight of those cute little kneecaps." Cooed Collins: "The perfect little English schoolboy." The ever cynical Divine rated him just "another rotten kid," and Falwell said the short pants reminded him too much of the short pants he hated when he was a kid. Payton criticized Wills for getting help picking out his outfit, to say nothing of getting help putting it on. But people will be helping a prince of the House of Windsor to dress even at 35.

6 Having curtailed her attendance at wrestling matches, Cyndi Lauper, 33, has plenty of time to work on her true colors. "She's weird, but she does weird well," said Barrows. Wasserstein felt the Pluto brooch pulled everything together—"from Cartier?" she wondered. Falwell, perhaps intrigued by Lauper's fundamentally different look, proclaimed her "very beautiful."

3 Do all the kids in Joan Van Ark's Knots Landing neighborhood ask her to come out and scrimmage? Instead of Perrier, does Van Ark, 40, pass around a water bucket at her parties? Divine thought she looked like a halfback, but Barrows fretted that the combination of upswept hair and drooping earrings made her look more like the team mascot: "She looks like a sad dog." Collins defended her: "I think it's a pretty outfit."

5 The color seems just right. Yes, the Pope definitely wears white well. "He looks adorable," said Hardwick. "The right look," declared Payton, although Divine thought he resembled Princess Anne. Zappa liked the outfit, but worried that all the ecclesiastical trappings hanging loose might be dangerous around heavy machinery, like helicopter blades. Falwell, who has always tried to keep peace with higher powers, said, "Who can criticize the Pope?" The hat caused a minor flap among the judges. Pope John Paul II, 66, may be infallible, but not when it comes to headgear.

6 Molly Ringwald has lovely hair, perfect lips, marvelous credits and filthy sneakers. "I like the outfit," said Zappa, whose son, Dweezil, dated Molly. "But I'd probably like it a lot better if the tennis shoes were a little cleaner." Barrows would "put her in a feminine, flowery dress with little flats," but Headroom thought Molly, 18, was merely waiting for her ship to come in: "It's a very trendy look. It's got that 'Hey sailor, I just love a man in uniform' feel about it."

5 Is that a dress or did Carrie Leigh, 23, Hugh Hefner's favorite companion, just get bandaged by a MASH unit? "It's just ridiculous," said Hardwick, "but you know, it's not bad on her." Zappa wasn't wild about the dress, either, but on a body like that, "it looks good." Gaultier glowed: "It shows off her exceptional stomach and pretty chest." Cierach noted: "The lower half is quite sexy; the upper half looks like a handkerchief." And Falwell guessed: "She's wearing a Hefner design."

2 She's been told time and time again to stay out of her mother-in-law's closet, but after a disaster such as this, borrowing from the Queen might not be a bad idea. "A walking nightmare," said Collins. Actually, it's Fergie, 27, the Duchess of York, all gussied up for a day at the races. Payton said there were "too many lines going too many ways." Barrows, who has seen a lot, said it was "the most horrible thing I've ever seen."

4 You probably think this is the secret envoy sent Iran by President Reagan. Nope, it's Elton John, 39, looking as if "he's going to a psychedelic Shriners convention," said Barrows. The creator of such hits as Bennie and the Fez churned up a lot of interest, mostly in the judges' stomachs. Barrows felt dizzy, while Headroom said it "makes me feel queasy." But Gaultier, who called this "his most classic look," approved: "Bravo for all the graphics."

2 Where do you suppose Mia Farrow, 40, shops? "I want to congratulate the Goodwill for its fine work," said Falwell. Headroom's hypothesis: "I think she's attempting to look like my father, who is not the snappiest of dressers." But Collins countered: "I kind of like the look. It's her. She's making a statement." Who's listening? Not Gaultier: "We've had enough of this look. I prefer the Mia Farrow of Rosemary's Baby." Now you know how Allen makes those low-budget movies: Keep your stars in rags.

7 The judges thought the dress was fine, if nothing to lose weight over, but they sure loved Liz Taylor, 54. "She always makes the dress," said Wasserstein, and Hardwick agreed: "Whatever she does is okay by me." Falwell called the outfit "very tasteful," and Payton said he wanted the dress for his wife—in a smaller size. Predictably Divine was left speechless by his awe for Liz. When pressed, the judges admitted that the hem could have been more tapered and the belt more understated. The white belt draws attention to her waist, not her cleavage, which shows which part of her body Liz is proudest of these days.

4 When you're on top like Bill Cosby, 49, you can wear your jacket inside out and nobody's going to criticize. His low rating was due more to the cigar. Otherwise, "right on target," said Falwell. Added Zappa: "He obviously knows what he's doing."

5 The slit skirt, padded shoulders, clunky shoes and upswept hair combined to give Linda Evans, 43, the look of "an entry in a drag ball," by the reckoning of Divine, who spoke for the majority. Collins, though, was captivated. "Linda always looks chic. I love her look. I love her shoulders. I think it's nice that she messes about and tries different styles." Gaultier concurred: "Pretty legs, beautiful face, there aren't many errors here."

5 Doesn't Don Johnson, 36, know anything about clothes? This is the kind of tuxedo that people rent, for goodness sake. "I don't think I'd like to be seen with a man wearing that sort of thing," Cierach said. Zappa didn't like the stripes and Collins thought he looked like a headwaiter. "The jacket is too tight and without shape," said Gaultier. Concluded Payton: "He's a casual guy trying to look uncasual, and it doesn't work."

8 Finishing a very unfavorable second to Prince William in the Cute Knees category is Perfect Strangers' Bronson Pinchot, 26, labeled "an absolute disaster" by Cierach. But Gaultier admired his calves: "The look is classic, like the legs of a Louis XV chair." Zappa praised Pinchot "because it takes a certain amount of Dan Rather-like, raw courage to dress like that on the street." Falwell said he wouldn't dress like that in public, which somehow wasn't a surprise.

8 Perennial favorite Princess Diana, 25, has proved it: You can be too thin and too rich. "She should ask Fergie to share her cookies with her," said Wasserstein. Hardwick thought Di was "far better dressed before she married into the royal family," and Divine agreed: "She looks like an airline stewardess. All this outfit is missing is a British Airways pin." Most of the judges said they had seen Di look better, but they generally liked her taste and her figure. "She's very chic indeed," said Collins. Gaultier particularly liked the way Di mixed "English tradition with the avant-garde." Said Zappa: "I think Margaret Thatcher should go to her tailor."

For better or worsted

5 Only in California would the bride wear less from the waist up than from the hair up. Collins thought Heather Locklear, 25, who married Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee, came off as "a typical California girl—she looks much better in a damp T-shirt and shorts than in this outfit." Falwell liked what little there was of the dress but felt there wasn't enough. Cierach wasn't happy about the gloves—"they should be skintight or not at all"—but liked the hat, as did Gaultier. Divine thought that for a wedding, a string of pearls would have been nice, but Barrows didn't approve of this skimpy outfit at all. "I just don't think it's ladylike to be married in something like that," she said. "I think God would probably frown."

5 Stop in the name of horticulture! Is Diana Ross, 42 (with new hubby Arne Naess Jr.), wearing a wedding dress, or is she auditioning for a part in The Name of the Rose? "The dress was obviously designed by a world-class gardener," said Headroom, "but it's a very risky thing to wear if the thorns haven't been clipped." Zappa felt the lines were ruined by "all that shrubbery," and Wasserstein asked, "Does she need to be watered?" While Cierach loved the Belgian lace, she thought it lacked "much of a shape. Not a lot to it." Falwell became downright nostalgic while gazing at the newlyweds, explaining, "I think that's what my wife and I looked like when we were married 28 years ago."

6 Caroline Kennedy, 28, looking fabulous if somewhat famished on her wedding day, left a mixed impression. "Her mother raised her nice," Wasserstein said. Hardwick said she looked "radiant, the epitome of good taste." Remembered Gaultier: "She has the kind of dress that Jacqueline Kennedy had made in Paris in 1968, combining the little-girl look with stylish chic." The dress was criticized by both Zappa and Headroom for having too many little decorations on the bodice—Zappa referred to the total effect as "camouflage"—and by Payton for being "too high school, too innocent." But Divine said it was "the best I've ever seen her look."

6 Her face. His body. Her family. His investments. "The couple of the year," pronounced Collins of Maria Shriver, 31, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, 39. Her single demurral: "He was hiding his muscles, which is always a shame." Hardwick thought she looked charming. There were quibbles. Cierach rated the gown merely "presentable," finding all that chiffon and lace too traditional. Zappa, who doesn't like wedding dresses in general, didn't care for the sleeves or the shoulders on this one, saying it reminded him of "something out of The Godfather." Nice.

4 No, this isn't the clean-up crew coming in after Caroline's wedding. It's an actual unretouched photo of the bridal party. "The dresses look like they match the paper plates," said Wasserstein. The judges thought the men were okay but didn't know if the women were wearing muumuus or prom dresses. Guess which person received a perfect score for impeccable grooming, superb posture and classic styling? Easy. The cop in the back row.