Top 10 Trendsetters '98
Xena: Warrior Princess arrived with a bang, and Lucy Lawless arrived with the bangs. Her do has become the kindest cut of the year. "I have young clients coming in all the time asking for the look," says New York City stylist Frédéric Fekkai. For Lawless, 29, the clean-cut fringe is a matter of keeping what works. "I've had bangs since childhood," she says. And for swordplay, nothing could be better. "It's not a fashion statement," Lawless says. "In a good scrape, you don't want hair in your eyes."
2 CLAIRE DANES
short-sleeved sweaters & long skirts
Claire Danes, 18, turned heads at last year's Oscars in designer Narciso Rodriguez's short-sleeved cashmere-and-satin combo. "It took a lot of nerve to wear a plain blue sweater and plain blue skirt," says designer Vera Wang. "She has a tremendous amount of individuality." No longer. Within a month of the awards, A.B.S., a designer knock-off firm, was offering a $230 copy in rayon.
open shirt & choker
What to wear for a night of club hopping? How about a gold choker and a form-hugging designer shirt, unbuttoned practically to the navel? R&B star Maxwell, 24, "has updated the John Travolta look for the '90s," says Freddy Rojas, owner of L.A.'s X Sport store. But Maxwell wasn't thinking of Travolta. "For me it just looks nice and feels right, and that's what it's all about," he says. Copycats "are running to outlet stores and buying bright-colored stretch shirts," says Janine Lopiano-Misdom of Sputnik, a trend-watching firm. "It's starting on the streets. You don't see it mainstream right now. It's the next evolution."
4 WINONA RYDER
She's more Age of Innocence than Alien Resurrection. Winona Ryder, 26, has set off a retro resurgence. "She had a big part in reviving the vintage look," says Elena Hart, marketing director of the Fashion Association, a trade group. "She updates period pieces for the '90s." Adds Jay Sternstein of New York City's Antique Boutique: "When she wears a vintage dress, she legitimizes it."
5 CAMERON DIAZ
sweaters & scarves
Actress Cameron Diaz, 25, says stylist Phillip Bloch, "brings back everything we loved about '50s chic," And her sweaters and neckerchiefs have a growing following. The sweaters "have taken hold because it's a simple, sexy look," says trend watcher: Elena Hart. Adds Lynn Roberts, a vice president of neckwear firm Echo Design: "Cameron has drawn a younger audience into wearing scarves."
6 GWEN STEFANI
No Doubt about it: Rocker Gwen Stefani, 28, is sprinting ahead of the hip-hop style pack. "She likes to wear two things that don't go together," says one of her favorite designers, Deborah Viereck, "because it draws attention to each piece." One piece that Gwennabes have run out to adopt is the striped track pant. With Stefani's influence, says Steve McLean, an apparel manager at Adidas, "sales of athletic pants have been unbelievable—and are still going strong."
"Dressing up is on the rise among young women," says Constance C.R. White, author of Style Noir, a new book about African-America style. "Brandy is one reason why." The 19-year-old star of UPN's Moeska and ABC's Cinderella set off the fashion alarm in 1995 when she wore a Victor Alfaro fuchsia gown to the Billboard Music Awards. "Fuchsia wasn't even a popular color," says Niki Livas, owner of Zum Zum, a top New York City prom-dress manufacturer. "But we've sold about 20,000 copies of our $130 dress based on her gown."
8 GEORGE STRAIT
He usually favors pressed Wranglers. So George Strait, 45, knocked 'em out of their saddles when he wore a perfectly tailored mandarin-collar tuxedo to cohost the Academy of Country Music Awards last April. Now cowpokes everywhere want the look. Fabian Couture Group, a leading New Jersey-based tuxedo firm, is doing blazing business with its $400 mandarin jacket. "When consumers idealize a celebrity," says Fabian designer Martin Fox, "they want to look like the picture."
9 TÉA LEONI
wide pants & pearls
Téa Leoni, 31, went to prep school and plays golf. Naturally, she's a fashion conservative. "She's kind of a Katharine Hepburn," says trend analyst Tom Julian. "I think of her long lines and her great stride, so pants look great." Not only is Leoni bringing converts to wider trousers, but the star of NBC's The Naked "Truth also gives pearls a new luster. "Téa has a very elegant but hip look," says costume jeweler Carolee Friedlander, whose pearl sales are up 15 percent this year. "Her pearls are like an exclamation point. They're an identity."
10 ROSIE O'DONNELL
queen-size tailored pantsuits
Until cheery Rosie O'Donnell, 35, beamed into America's living rooms, most plus-size women didn't have a fashion role model. But O'Donnell's tailored pantsuits, fashioned by designer Dale Richards, have sparked a new attitude—and a buying spree. At the 850-store Lane Bryant chain, which specializes in sizes 14 to 28, pantsuits have become a phenomenon. "Rosie doesn't try to cover up her body," says Lane Bryant fashion director Monique Keegan. "She has validated that large-size women don't have to wear sloppy, loose-fitting clothes."