Style Watch

updated 09/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

"We were creating a character that was Hollywood hip," says Gary Jones, assistant costume designer for the film Postcards from the Edge, of Meryl Streep's high-velocity Suzanne Vale. "The kind of sunglasses she wore was very important." L.A. optical designer Cheryl Shuman, whose company, Starry Eyes, specializes in specs for films, came to the rescue with superchic $295 clip-ons by Robert La Roche—the same little round '40s style favored these days by tout Hollywood. "Everyone is getting into the retro look," says Shuman, who claims she got calls from moviegoers for 10,000 pairs of the Art Deco-style glasses she provided for Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Off the set, however, Streep has not bowed to the trend. Says Jones: "The glasses her character wears are definitely not her."

Bob Mackie may be one of Hollywood's most glamorous designers, but these days he can be spotted rummaging through thrift shops, K mart or Sears for just the thing for a certain old chum. Mackie is in charge of Carol Burnett's clothes for NBC's skit-oriented Carol & Company, continuing a TV relationship the two established back on the old Carol Burnett Show. And though he has mainly been producing cocktail dresses and evening gowns since 1982, Mackie says it wasn't hard to get back into a character role. "It's fun coming up with the right look." he says. And what happens when he gets recognized at the secondhand store? "Nothing," he says. "They just want to sell you that old dress."

Fur may be out, but skin is in. Like Nicolas Cage's Wild at Heart character, Sailor Ripley, who treasures his snakeskin jacket, the famous rich are rediscovering exotic leathers. Kathleen Turner, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross and Bette Midler have a thing for Luc Benoit's alligator bags ($1,500 to $5,000), while Janet Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger snapped up some of Kleinberg Sherrill's $500-and-up alligator belts. (Arnold was buying for wife Maria Shriver.) "People are looking for luxurious substitutes for fur," says Lisa Bruno, publisher of a marketing report called Accessor-eyes. Cage, however, won't be wearing his trademark topper anymore. He gave his slightly used jacket to Wild co-star Laura Dern after filming.

The latest in underworld underwear—in a new slew of gangster movies, at least—is the sumptuous silk robe. Albert Finney and Jon Polito wear them in Miller's Crossing, Andy Garcia slips one on in The Godfather Part III, and Martin Kemp follows suit in The Krays. "The image of a silk robe springs to mind when you think of gangsters at home dressed like little kings," declares Miller's Crossing costume designer Richard Hornung, who says he paid $1,200 for Finney's Sulka special. But silk robes haven't caught on among us common folk. "They're doing okay," says Milton Margolis, vice chairman of Host Apparel, which manufactures men's designer sleepwear by Perry Ellis, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene and Alexander Julian. "But the big trend in robes is terry-cloth velour."

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