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Vintage Valentino proved fit for the Queen of Hollywood, even if it was super-snug. The 1982 velvet gown hugged JULIA ROBERTS'S curves so closely at the Oscars she had to be reminded to breathe—a feat "not so easy in this dress," she said.

White-hot NICOLE KIDMAN put up a cool front in a late-70s fringed satin Loris Azzaro at a New York City screening of Moulin Rouge in April. "Her heart was broken on the inside, but she's healing through fashion," surmises People's West Coast style editor Steven Cojocaru.

At the Oscars, CATHERINE ZETA-JONES oozed old-fashioned hourglass appeal in an Atelier Versace silk satin bustier gown. "It was one of those dresses that I went, That's it!' " she told Joan Rivers. "I'm a black freak anyway."

Dynamite in Prada at last fall's Emmy Awards, JENNIFER ANISTON downplayed the fashion fireworks she created. "I just went with what fit," she said. So did hubby Brad Pitt help her get gussied up? "Damn right I did," he replied, with a twinkle in his eye.

CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG, in a satin gown by Carolina Herrera, echoed her mother's iconic style for April's opening of "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years" at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. "White is always chic and always fresh," notes Herrera.

Channeling the sultriness of Ava Gardner, Oscar winner MARCIA GAY HARDEN graced the Academy Awards in a bloodred satin ballgown by Randolph Duke. "I knew I wanted drama," she told Entertainment Weekly.

Oscar nominee JOAN ALLEN added some zing to the evening in this citrus sensation, a tangerine Michael Kors sheath in clingy silk georgette. The getting-ready process "was a big production," she admitted. "We started at 9 in the morning."

CHARLIZE THERON was all limbs at an LA. award gala in April, clad in an asymmetrical silk chiffon dress by British designer Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed Princess Diana's wedding dress. "It was a really stunning contrast to have the black against fair hair and fair skin," says Emanuel. "And this probably made her legs look even longer."

GWYNETH PALTROW lived up to the "icon in training" label recently bestowed upon her by Women's Wear Daily when she turned up at the Tony Awards in June in a plunging gold lace Valentino. "This was the first time I dressed her, and she was absolutely stunning," says the designer.

With a nod to her Spanish heritage, PENELOPE CRUZ swept into the Oscars in a delicate lacy creation by Ralph Lauren. "It's pretty, very feminine," she said. Hints Cojocaru: "I think this would look good in white for a wedding to a certain world's-most-successful actor."

At the Manhattan premiere of her film Someone Like You in March, ASHLEY JUDD shone in minimalist Armani satin. "I have my own ideas about what I think is chic," Judd told Harper's Bazaar, "and I don't need to have my standards corroborated by somebody's opinion." No complaints from us.

Seven out of seven women surveyed (okay, us) wouldn't dare wear huge chevron stripes, but ER's MICHAEL MICHELE (at January's People's Choice Awards in L.A.) proved herself anatomically correct for this sequined gown by Carolina Herrera.

At the Golden Globes in January, West Winger ALLISON JANNEY was Inaugural-ball-worthy in a sage-colored organza gown from Pamela Dennis. The actress was sold on the shimmer. "I wanted glowy," she said.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's MICHELLE YEOH was almost crouching under the weight of her tiger-striped crystal-beaded Barney Cheng-so she changed outfits after the Oscars ceremony. Said Yeoh: "I couldn't dance in a 35-lb, dress."

Wimbledon champ VENUS WILLIAMS held court as the Goddess of Loveliness at the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year 2000 Awards in Manhattan last December. The Calvin Klein gown, says her stylist Kythe Brewster, made the most of her muscles-and her curves: "She is a tennis athlete, but clothes fit her just as well as they do a runway model."

Va-va-va-Uma! At the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards in New York City last fall, UMA THURMAN stood head and shoulder above the crowd in a bugle-beaded Gucci. Appropriately, she was presenting an award to Gucci desianer Tom Ford.

First-time Best Actress nominee LAURA LINNEY I showed Hollywood she was made of Oscar material in a Grecian column dress by Valentino. It was "the perfect color choice for Laura," says the designer.