Yeah, it's Deborah—not Debbie—Gibson now, and she's not keeping it under her hat. "It's not like I changed my name to Penelope," says the former bubblegum queen, now 27. "I've always felt more like a Deborah. I think people see it as a symbolic thing representing a change from child to adult."
At the time of her Electric Youth triumph, as the youngest artist ever to write, produce and record a No. 1 single (1989's "Foolish Beat"), Gibson's crinoline skirts, sneakers and oversize jackets "made me feel spunky," says the Merrick, N.Y., native. "I naturally gravitated toward the cutesy. I was certainly the alternative to dressing like Madonna." Those days have vanished, along with the perky blonde hair. "Red is the most fun," says Gibson, a natural brunette who first turned to red in 1990 for a video. "It suits my personality more—it's strong and offbeat." Gibson—who for five months has played Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast—now reveals the results of regular gym workouts in clingy Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana. "She's a very elegant woman in charge of her life and her art," says Beauty costume designer Ann Hould-Ward. "I feel very comfortable wearing tighter clothing," explains the singer, who has a non-musical part in the forthcoming movie Wedding Band, with Dom DeLuise. "And I'm a little more put together now." Nobody is happier than her mother, Diane. Her daughter's former look "drove me nuts," she admits, "but she was most comfortable in ripped jeans, boots and a big old sweatshirt." All of which still have their place, assures Gibson. When she's alone in her Manhattan apartment, she slips into "the baggiest overalls I can find." After all, "I've always dressed more like the girl you're going to marry than the girl you're going to sleep with once."
JON BON JOVI
Helena Occhipinti is ecstatic over the difference a decade has made for her favorite client, Jon Bon Jovi, 35. In the '80s "he did everything from spandex to scariness," says the hairdresser, who works in Oribe's Manhattan salon. Jeez, Helena, who didn't? After all, the guy had a wildly popular rock and roll band to lead to eight platinum albums including Slippery When Wet and 7800° Fahrenheit) before segueing into acting with Moonlight and Valentino (1995) and the forthcoming The Leading Man. "I want to die when I look at his old hair!" says Occhipinti. "I gave him the volume he wanted at the time. Then it was frosty. Remember frosty? Horrendous—the highlights and the curliness." In 1992 she could take it no more. When Bon Jovi arrived for a photo shoot, Occhipinti recalls, "I said, 'I can't do it! I cannot put you out there on tour again with this long hair! I want to cut it off.'" Bon Jovi's response? "He said, Crazy woman, you have five minutes to do what you want to do.' I took his ponytail and whacked it off in one shot."
Then, for a sexy Versace ad campaign in 1996, he traded in his fringed scarves and animal prints for minimalist attire—and the transformation was complete. "He looks much more elegant and handsome," says Rolling Stone fashion director Patti O'Brien. "I think the other look was just a little young and cheesy." The new package "caused a stir," adds Occhipinti. "It changed part of rock and roll history for men."
It's as predictable as her brother Michael's propensity for making headlines: Kid sister Janet, 31, will release a new album—in this case The Velvet Rope—accompanied by a new look. The grace notes this time? Flames of abundant red hair and a move to clothes that are sexy, but with an edge. "She's very aware of what the trends are," says stylist Darryle Johnson, who met Jackson during the filming of John Singleton's 1993 movie, Poetic Justice. "Now she's having a moment where she's pierced everything [nose, navel, tongue and nipple]. She might do something weird, but you love her anyway. She's like your little sister." After years of wearing baggy blazers to hide her baby fat, the ninth and youngest child of the Jackson clan has settled into the aerobicized body that she I achieved in 1990. "She's not Madonna; her sexuality is more subtle," says Kim Bowen, who has worked with Jackson for five years as a wardrobe stylist. "She's very ladylike and sweet." And self-assured enough to sometimes dress to match boyfriend René Elizondo. Jackson's style is "eclectic," Bowen says. "When I met her, she had already gotten herself pretty funky. She had gone through a renaissance. She'd become the woman she wanted to be." Until the next album, anyway.
Mane man Michael Bolton, 44, was stressed. If he de-tressed, he guessed, his fans would be depressed and his career messed. Then came a 1996 McCall's magazine survey in which 56% of 5,000 respondents said he was due for a redo. The decision to snip "was a combination of feedback and his feeling it was time," says Bolton's fashion stylist Gemina Aboitiz, who was with him in a suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel last July for what was billed as merely a private "consultation" with hairstylist Chris McMillan, the creator of Jennifer Aniston's much-copied cut. "But we were really hoping that we could just cut it then and there," Aboitiz admits. Bolton, a divorced father of three daughters who had worn his hair long since his teens, bit the bullet. "We were holding Michael's hand," says Aboitiz. "Afterward I think he was pinching himself, because he felt it looked really good." (Who knows if Bolton's reported girlfriend, actress Ashley Judd, agreed? She told USA Today that the coif "speaks for itself.")
With less hair obscuring the view, Bolton's sophisticated sense of style—he favors streamlined clothing from Armani, Gucci and Prada—is suddenly apparent. "He always had taste," says Aboitiz, "but things look twice as good on him now." To twice the fan base, judging from last November's Cable ACE Awards. "Two guys almost kissed me tonight!" Bolton marveled. "Hottie or hunk, I'll take whatever stuff people are calling me."
For more than 10 years she'd been hitting the high notes in a coiffure to match. So it was an understandably hair-raising experience for country star Reba McEntire to chop her pile of red curls down to size. "I had wanted to cut it for three years but kept hearing, 'No, the fans won't like it,'" recalls McEntire, 42. "It got looking too old for me. I wanted to be the little frisky person that I was and have my hair reflect that. So I went in and looked at a lot of pictures, and I chose one of Meg Ryan on the cover of some big magazine." The new Reba—created by her longtime designer-stylist Sandy Spika—emerged at the 1996 Country Music Awards. "It's lighter in attitude," says McEntire, "kind of like my last album [the platinum What If It's You]."
Like, in fact, her whole act. "My shows are less theatrical too," McEntire says. "The clothes go right along with that." Spika says she helped steer McEntire away from rodeo belts and "tiddledywink tops—the ones with the big chunks of sequins on them"-toward "a more casual, contemporary look" featuring "classic cuts and style and tailored, fitted things."
"I was searching all my life for an image," says McEntire, who has been married for eight years to manager Narvel Blackstock and is the mother of son Shelby, 7. "I never had a look or a certain thing, like Tina Turner in her little short dresses. I was a chameleon, I would wear anything. Now I know what I feel confident in."
From grunge to goddess in—oh, let's do the math here—one movie. With her brave, blistering performance in 1996's The People vs. Larry Flynt, Courtney Love, 33, rehabbed her reputation from drugged-out rock singer to serious Hollywood actress—and her wardrobe has followed. The sexy couture creations that she wears today are a far cry from the decrepit baby-doll frocks and Mary Janes that she wore onstage with her band Hole, her lipstick smeared a la Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
"Between Courtney's brains and the fact that she naturally has pretty interesting taste, she figured it out pretty quick," says stylist Wendy Schecter, who worked with Love much of last year. "She always knew how to make a statement with clothes. Whether everyone agreed with it or not, she always had the ability to home in on the thing that was provocative or beautiful." After years of the former, the widow of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and mother of his daughter Frances Bean, 5, is embracing the latter. "She chose to subvert the elegant look for a while," says Poppy Z. Brite, former pal and author of Courtney Love: the Real Story. "But I think she's always known how to look like this if she wanted to." Mixing Prada and Versace with a vast collection of vintage wear. Love has, says Brite, "through all these different looks retained an extreme individuality."
In some ways, she has followed the Hollywood crowd—she has admitted to having plastic surgery But the changes are more than scalpel-deep. Says Larry Flynt makeup artist Ben Nye: "There's a softness in her face. Her makeup today says that she's joyful and happy, whereas before she was maybe...not so happy. Today we're seeing an entirely different and very beautiful Courtney Love."