The Way I Looked That Night
updated 02/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City, Dec. 8, 1997
This dress was one of the last designed by Gianni and was from his last couture collection. In a way it's quite daring, as it has a long slit and is low at the front. But even though Versace dresses look precarious, they never move an inch all night. (I always wriggle around a lot in dresses before I decide to wear them, as I can't stand having to pull up straps all night or fiddle around with a neckline.) This dress is gloriously comfortable to wear. The bodice is boned, which means you don't have to breathe in all night and can eat what you want. Gianni always knew how to get the most out of a woman's body; at times I've been really thin but magically appeared curvaceous in one of his dresses. I liked wearing this because I know Gianni would have liked me in it. I wish he could have seen me. The shoes and coat are also Versace, from the same collection. The bag is vintage.
Wedding to Albert Gore Jr.
May 19, 1970
My mother and both of my grandmothers helped me pick out my dress. It was a white satin peau de soie gown with alencon lace, beaded with pearls and featuring a chapel train. The veil was a mantilla bordered with alencon lace. I carried a bouquet of white orchids, white carnations and gypsophila.
Al definitely did not see me in the dress before the wedding. That's taboo! When he did see it, as I came down the aisle, he was appropriately speechless until he said "I do" at the altar.
The reception was a great party. It was at the Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, Va. We danced to big-band songs, lots of Beatles and other music of the 1960s. The dress was not hard to dance in. I was so happy, I could have danced all night.
The dress was preserved and is now in storage. When my daughter Karenna was 5 years old, she tried the dress on, and I have a cute picture of her in it. But for her own wedding last July, she chose a Vera Wang gown. Her wedding brought back great memories of my wedding day. Although I'm not really sure if Al was more nervous as the bridegroom or as the father of the bride!
The Academy Awards
March 27, 1995
From the minute I got nominated [for Best Supporting Actress for Bullets Over Broadway], I was of two minds about what to wear. Part of me wanted to go with Ms. Serious Actress, but that part was warring with my real self, who wanted to look like Rita Hayworth in Gilda.
Then my fashion stylist said, "You should run over and see Isaac Mizrahi." He only had three dresses, but I saw this blue-black sequiny thing. I put it on and instantly knew this was the dress. It looked very slinky and reminded me of Jessica Rabbit.
Isaac was so hyper and so fabulous. He was running his hands all over me and going, "Look at her, it looks so great." Later he goes, "Oh, I just forgot to tell you. Vendela is going to be wearing the same dress." I was disappointed, but I looked at a Polaroid, and her dress had raspberry bugle beads.
But when I got to the Shrine Auditorium, my biggest fear was that someone would take a side-by-side picture of me and Vendela. I put my sister Rebecca on Vendela Watch. My date [graphic artist Peter Young] and I would be moving down the red carpet, and Becky would run ahead and then come back going, "Go back, go back, there's Vendela."
I was worried I was too zaftig in the dress, so just in case, I made all these little remarks to the press like, "I like my gown because it reminds me of the 1940s, when women were more womanly." But all in all I really liked what I wore. I think 50 years from now, I'll look back at my clippings and say that was a really great night and the outfit I wore was classic.
Fire & Ice Ball
Oct. 17, 1996
A stylist brought me the dress for a photo session I did for the cover of Total TV. I didn't even want to try it on, but they talked me into it. I didn't wear it for the photo session, but I really liked it and I bought it. It was in my closet four months before I wore it.
On the night of the Fire & Ice Ball, the black dress I was supposed to wear had been taken in, but it was still too big. I thought, "Uh-oh. What do I have in my closet?" I was in panic mode. Then I remembered this dress.
It's so unlike anything I ever wear. I always choose black or warm colors. And I rarely wear sleeveless things. This was sleeveless and had tiny straps. I always like to wear a bra, but this had a built-in bra. It's very revealing.
I didn't plan around this dress, so I hadn't bought anything to go with it. I just happened to have these pewter-colored Gucci shoes I had never worn that I threw on at the last minute. I didn't have the right bag, and a friend ran over and lent me hers. It was a vintage Lucite purse and fit perfectly with the dress. Then at the last second I threw on a brown and rust and silver velvet shawl I bought two years ago. It worked brilliantly.
Before I left, some of my friends and family who were visiting me said, "This is the best-looking night of your life. Let's take a picture." My husband said, "You've never looked better." The two of us stood there like two kids before the prom.
This night was a real case of Plan B—but it's probably the best I ever looked. Friends at the ball were like, "Wow, you look like ice, but you are on fire." We went to Maple Drive restaurant afterwards because there was no way I was taking this outfit off. It's the one time I stood and let the paparazzi take all the pictures they wanted.
New Year's Eve
Dec. 31, 1996
I had the dress made to wear for New Year's Eve several years ago. I had cut out a picture of something similar and taken it to a Washington dressmaker, and we sort of improvised and designed it and picked out the fabric, which is silk. Somehow I didn't wear it then. Maybe it wasn't the right color, or my pearls didn't work with it. I wore it to some big bash in New York City. And then I decided to wear it at my New Year's Eve party in 1996, and it worked and it clicked, and everybody loved it. I got so many compliments that I chose it for the jacket of my new book, The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining. I also liked it because it was red and festive and sort of simple looking. The color red makes people look healthy. And it fit, which is always key.
But at my New Year's party no one was asking me to dance. I finally went over to one of my usual partners and said, "Why haven't you asked me to dance? No one's asking me." He said, "It's the dress." I said, "What's wrong with the dress? Isn't it attractive?" And he said, "Yes, but it looks dangerous."
Actors and Others
for Animals Fashion Show
Beverly Hills, Oct. 4, 1997
Three years ago, Earl Holliman asked me if I would model for his annual benefit. I said yes because I was too embarrassed to say no. But it was a real riot, and I have done it ever since. I always save the date so I can be available.
In years past, I've chosen to wear men's suits. They make me feel more comfortable than a sequined gown. This year when I went to one of the stores the show uses to pick out a suit, the guy was so incredibly rude to me, I just excused myself.
I left and went to Jeran Design, another store that participated in the event. These guys do sequins, and they welcomed me. I told them I wanted to wear a really sexy, tight-fitting dress. The guy looked at me and ran his hands up and down my body to determine my size. He actually said, "Here's the problem." I'm a little small at the top and bigger on the bottom.
I tried on a black slinky dress with a slit. I think the slit is just so you don't trip. Otherwise you'd just tear it anyway. It's the designer's way of saying, "Beat you to it." It was a diamondy thing. It was not something one would expect to see on me. It was long enough that I didn't have to expose my huge, thick thighs if I chose not to.
They told me to use breast pads, which I had no experience with. I later showed them to the audience, and they auctioned them off for 60 bucks. I wore a pair of high heels I already owned. They gave me long black gloves, which are still in the back of my station wagon. I save them in case I want to commit a crime. I won't leave any elbow prints either.
The actual fashion show was over pretty quickly. I think people were surprised that I would choose to wear a dress like that. People were very complimentary. I had a good deal of fear that I would topple over in my high heels. I didn't hear anybody singing "Poetry in Motion."
Keenen Ivory Wayans
The Emmy Awards
Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 30, 1992
My brother Shawn [left] and I were planning to wear Issey Miyake suits. If I'm going to wear a suit, I like it to have a unique element—a mandarin collar or an interesting lapel.
My brother Marlon, who was presenting with us, chose not to wear Miyake. He wanted to rent a cheap tuxedo and make a joke about it. We kept telling him it wouldn't be funny He must've called me eight times that morning. My brother Damon finally said, "Marlon's been driving me crazy. I already told him not to do it, but if he calls me again, I'm going to tell him to do it."
Marlon had rented the tuxedo and written all the dialogue for me and Shawn to do. Backstage, just as we were going out to present the award for best actress in a comedy series, we didn't even acknowledge him. We go out, and he makes his grand entrance in this tiny tuxedo. The arms are close to his elbows and he's wearing white sweatsocks. He waits for me and Shawn to ask him what's up with the suit, but we just ignore him. The moment he realized we weren't going along with it was priceless. I felt sorry for the winner, Candice Bergen, because Shawn and I were laughing throughout her speech. She had no idea why, and neither did anyone else. After the awards, Marlon was furious. He didn't want to hang out with us. He went over to Damon's house for sympathy, but Damon put on the suit himself and just started doing impressions.
The Academy Awards
Los Angeles, March 24, 1997
After I was nominated [for Best Documentary Short Subject], everyone kept asking, "What are you going to wear?" I really hadn't thought about it. There's less pressure if you're an independent filmmaker. A friend told me to go to Fred Hayman in Beverly Hills. They were really nice. They understand how overwhelmed you feel. All the clothes looked really great, but they're made for people who are 7 feet tall, and I'm 5'4".
I ended up borrowing a Mary McFadden sleeveless black sheath with gold embroidery on top. It had a classic look. I felt comfortable in it. I wanted a dress I could eat in. Win or lose, I'd be able to have a nice meal at the end of the day. The dress cost about $5,000. I remember thinking, "What I could do with this!"
The jewelry was lent by Harry Winston. It was the most foreign place for me to be in. All their jewelry is Flintstone jewelry. The pearls are so big, they look like the rocks Wilma wore on her ears. I quickly picked the smallest things, a pair of earrings and a bracelet, which sell for about $165,000. They joked, "Fine, sign your life away right here."
When I got home and showed them to my husband [writer Mark Salzman], we realized there was a diamond missing from the bracelet. I tried not to panic, but in the middle of the night, Mark got up and was searching the car with a flashlight. I had this moment in which I felt I'd be paying for this jewelry the rest of my life. In the morning, when I called the store, they told me not to worry about it; the loose diamond was there.
Everyone asks, what were you thinking when your name was called, but I was thinking absolutely nothing! My goal was to be able to enjoy the moment. I remember walking up the aisle. From the podium, you see everyone smiling at you. They light up the crowd. I started talking. I made the comment about my outfit costing more than my movie, and soon the screen with the time was flashing "End."
Golden Globe Awards
Jan. 21, 1996
This was the first time I'd worn silver. I borrowed the gown from the Escada boutique in Beverly Hills. I just tried it on, and that was it. It was perfect: glamorous and not overpowering. The top of the dress was so beautiful. It gave you the breasts, the flat stomach, the waistline. It showed the arms and the neck. The fabric wasn't heavy. It was a perfect 10 in wearability.
But it was raining that day. I remember getting out of the limousine and thinking, "If I move on that soggy carpet, I'm going to mess up the hem. But I can't just run right in. I've got to talk to all those people." I had to grab two fistfuls of the dress to keep it up.
Once inside at dinner, I had no problem sitting. How do you wear a bustle? You just sit on it! It's a nice cushion on your chair.
I wore my hair up in a style the dress called for. It needed a long line. I always want to appear as tall as I can. And I wore opera gloves in silver. I found these at Jessica McClintock in Beverly Hills. I was not used to wearing gloves, and they didn't feel quite right. I took them off to eat. But the outfit wouldn't have worked without them. They gave me that fairytale feeling.
I wore silver Escada pumps, but you hardly see them. You just look at the dress. People were struck by it. They loved it and thought I looked perfect in it. We were made for each other.
Radio-Television Correspondents Association Dinner
Washington, March 19, 1992
I was speaking at the dinner—this is the same event where Don Imus later insulted President Clinton in 1996. I wanted to wear just the right thing. I gave it a lot of thought. I wound up at Classy Formal Wear in South Miami. I spent the extra money to get a tuxedo that didn't say "rental" on the side. I even got the shoes. They were made of some kind of space-age plastic. If I had been wearing a dress, you could have looked up it. Everyone else wore the same thing, but I'm pretty sure no one else rented because these were people like Tom Brokaw. That's what every man secretly wants: to look exactly like every other man in the room. I even looked like President Bush, except not as tall.
I met the President at a VIP reception. My conversation consisted almost entirely of me telling him that I shop at the same supermarket as his son Jeb. I think he was dealing with whether or not to bomb Iraq at the time, and here's this little rental-tuxedo dweeb blabbing to him about the Publix supermarket in South Miami. He seemed interested. He handled it with grace and aplomb.
That tux went back to Classy Formal Wear. I don't know its whereabouts now. I didn't do anything to mark it so I'd always know which one it was. Future renters will not know that tux met the President of the United States.
The Judds' Farewell Concert
Murfreesboro, Tenn., Dec. 4, 1991
When I was deciding what to wear to the concert, I knew only my red vinyl party dress with crinolines would do. So we called the Country Music Hall of Fame, where we had donated it in 1987, and borrowed it back. I was determined that this occasion not be funereal. Even though hepatitis was forcing me to to retire, I wanted the night to be full of joy. I said to Wynonna, "Honey, this isn't my going-away party. This is your coming-out party."
If Scarlett O'Hara took the green curtains off the window and wore them, then this is like I took the red vinyl seat covers off my '57 Chevy. The dress was my armor for the night because inside that suit, which could stand up by itself if you took it off the hook and set it on the floor, I was so incredibly fragile.
Wynonna and I suspected that people were expecting a tearful swan song, so I strutted the stage and inquired, "Did you guys really think somebody who'd wear a party dress like this would just retire to the farm without throwing a blowout bash?"
After the concert we boarded our bus and began the journey home. I saw the Krystal restaurant, where I used to go at midnight after my shift as a nurse at the Rutherford County Hospital years before. My daughter Ashley screamed, "Stop the bus!" Wynonna, Ashley and I marched, into Krystal's. Since we eschew fast food, we were unsure of what to order. Ashley blurted out, "We'll just take one of everything!" Then we headed home.
Eve's Bayou Premiere
Los Angeles, Oct. 16, 1997
Last year my husband, Donn [Thompson, a photographer], kept bugging me to see an erotic film called Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. I went and I loved it. I was mesmerized by how beautiful these women looked in their saris. My husband was just salivating. He said, "You'd look fabulous in that." I decided that I would try to find one.
Donn and I drove about an hour and a half to Artesia [Calif.]. When you get off the freeway, you see nothing but Indian shops. We went to this place called Sari Boutique. I told the owner, Jyoti Nagrani, that I wanted to find something very special for my film premiere and that I wanted something very sexy—that we had to show some skin. She suggested a sari with a midriff top. Her husband showed me this cream-colored material with gold embroidery. I said, "We don't have to look at anything else. This is it."
The problem was wrapping this thing. I knew I'd never be able to wrap it myself. Then I thought of having my friend Carmelita Wagstaff, who was going to style my hair, do it. The next time I went for a fitting, I took her with me. We stayed for half an hour as she learned how to wrap the sari.
The night of the premiere, Carmelita did my hair in these beautiful Bantu knots. Then it was time to wrap the sari. Carmelita had brought these gold safety pins that would blend in, but they were so tiny, I didn't think they would hold. There was so much fabric to wrap. The sari kept falling, and my mother, who had flown in from New York City, gave us these huge safety pins. "You can't go to your premiere with your dress falling down!" she said.
When I stepped out of the limo at Mann's Chinese Theatre, I could feel the thing dropping. The flashing bulbs are going off, and a photographer says, "Raise your arms up!" I had one hand trying to hold my waist.
At the end of the screening I saw Jyoti, whom I had invited, and she told me how to adjust the fabric. I got in the car and told the driver, "Stop at my house before heading to the party." I was able to put enough pins in the sari so the thing wouldn't bust.
Wag the Dog
Dec. 17, 1997
I was so excited to walk down the red carpet. I love to go through the paparazzi line. I hold my arms up, do all the poses. This is like dress-up. I never dress this way at home. I wear jeans, T-shirts and Adidas.
My dress was by Tart. It has spaghetti straps with an embroidered skirt. It's cute, fun and funky. I love Empire waists. The Tart people made me a stole to go with the dress and gave me these big platform shoes from Chinese Laundry. I carried unlimited-edition Barbie purse, a gift from my manager Jerry Kirsch. I love it because I collect old Barbie dolls.
I had my makeup done at Laurent Dufourg's salon, Privé. My mom goes there, and she said I should try it. When they were first doing my hair I thought, "I look like someone from Fraggle Rock!" It used, like. 1,000 bobby pins.
After the movie my mother, my manager and his wife, my brother Christian, who's 10. and I walked into Chasen's and sat at our banquette. I loved the créme brùlée. I think I spilled a little on my dress, but thanks to dry cleaning, no worry!
When I went home. I flung the dress down and went to sleep. No. I spent some time taking off my makeup. If I didn't. I'd end up with pimples in two days.