12/15/1997 at 01:00 AM EST
HIDE AND SEEK
Fur may be forbidden in politically correct Hollywood, but when it comes to leather, what could be better? "When you wear leather, you're a diva on the loose—nobody messes with you," says Baywatch's Traci Bingham, who joins Winona Ryder, Debi Mazar and Mariah Carey
in showing a taste for the tannery. "Leather is naughty, raunchy, yet fun," Bingham adds. "It sends out a message that you are a tough cookie." Says Los Angeles fashion stylist Kim Bowen (clients include Brad Pitt
, Janet Jackson
and George Michael): "People love leather because it's sexy, sinful and totally rock and roll. It's not subtle in the least. Leather is what you put on when you want to come off looking dangerous."
Suddenly hot again as a result of designers' new emphasis on "tough chic" (think of Pat Bell natar in the '80s), sleek skins have practical appeal as well. "Leather is very versatile," says designer Richard Tyler. "I like leather jackets with wool trousers for day or a leather jacket over a chiffon slip dress at night. It's right for any season." Just don't overdo it. "If you put too much on," says Bowen, "you end up looking like a piece of furniture."