So long, shoulder pads. Ta-ta, trousers. These days in Hollywood the baby-doll smock is everywhere as stars dress to regress. Witness frill-seeker Tori Spelling, getting girlish in white eyelet at her 21st birthday bash in May at L.A.'s House of Blues, or Lea Thompson, who went back to the future in a floral frock in June at the L.A. premiere of Getting Even with Dad. Even Cher swapped leather for lace at a London show in October. Says Lauren Tom (The Joy Luck Club), who wore a white bra-baring baby-doll to Isaac Mizrahi's Hollywood AIDS benefit in May: "People are looking to regain their sense of innocence."
Courtney Love and her late husband, Kurt Cobain, started the craze—the kin-derwhore look as she calls it—when they frolicked together in little-girl dresses in the early '90s. The trend gathered momentum last year when designers including Anna Sui and Mizrahi sent models down their runways in baby-dolls, bonnets and bows. Critics called the retro-Lolita look perverse; in fact, London's Daily Mail called it pedophiliac fashion. But Sui, for whose New York City show Linda Evangelista wore a cuddly, teddy-bear hat, insisted she was inspired only by nostalgia. "The world is so harsh now, with kids taking guns to school," she said. "Maybe we want to give them back the childhoods we had."
To Mizrahi the new style is "all about freedom. Women now have a choice if they want to wear a baby-doll dress or go to the office in a man's suit." But don't expect all of Hollywood to turn childishly chic. Says Tom: "It might be a little shocking to see Jodie Foster or Susan Sarandon in a baby-doll."