Dress of the Year
Annabelle Hargrave, 26, certified personal trainer Entering Miami Beach's swanky Opium restaurant, Hargrave announces, "I feel like a superstar!" Hostess Melanie Frazier actually does a double take, exclaiming, "I could have sworn that was Jennifer Lopez's sister!" And two fashion designers approach Hargrave about modeling for them. "A dress like this brings a lot out in you," Hargrave, who is single, says. "So you're bound to get a lot of attention."
Janice Hamilton, 38, art dealer "When you wear this dress, you need some protection!" says Hamilton, who has her fiancé, Bob Hairston, 53, an Internet-supply exporter, watching her back on Ocean Drive, where admirers gather round. "If I had a suit on, like I wear to work, people never would have approached me because I would have put up boundaries. The dress's raw sexuality makes you more approachable."
Angela Morris, 32, assistant property manager Swinging at Cafe Tabac poses a special hazard for Morris. "When I sit down, the material droops under my breasts," she notes. "Anyone sitting next to me can see everything." Not that she'd be able to gauge the reaction. Believing her eyeglasses don't go with the glamorous gown, the single Morris gives them to a friend to hold.
Julissa Demorizi, 21, college senior "I don't mind showing a little cleavage or leg," says the unmarried Demorizi, an honors student and aspiring dentist. "But this is different." Among her worries: "Other women don't like to be upstaged," she says before heading out for the evening. "I think they may sneer." Perhaps, but they didn't at trendy B.E.D. restaurant. "The girls were the first to tell me how beautiful I looked," says Demorizi. "I like this dress. Forget dental school!"
NEW YORK CITY
Alice Siess, 34, TV producer Lacking the Flygirl moves of Jennifer Lopez, Siess, who is single, feels somewhat vulnerable in what she calls the "high-maintenance dress" while exiting a limousine in midtown Manhattan. "I just wanted to make sure when I did step out, I was still wearing it!" she says, adding, "You have to be conscious of its placement on your body every time you move. It's got a mind of its own."
Amy Abrams, 27, recruiting firm owner On her way to Lincoln Center with her boyfriend, Andrew Weinreich, 32, an entrepreneur, Abrams learns that she's wearing a warm-weather gown. "I have no sensation in my upper body," she complains, shivering in the thin chiffon. The dress also gets the cold shoulder from Weinreich, who finds it "a bit over-the-top."
Leila Sadeghee, 26, waitress Horse-drawn carriage aside, Sadeghee (in Central Park) hardly feels like Cinderella. "The train is a disaster!" she exclaims. "It's so easy to forget it's there. And then suddenly your heel is cleaving a hole through the back." Her date, musician Keith Wasserman, 25, carries the trailing fabric for the evening.
Jennifer Huang, 22, law student The unmarried Huang (at the Beekman Towers bar in Manhattan) renders an unfavorable verdict on the double-stick tape she has to use to make sure the "kind of icky, gaudy, ugly" dress doesn't fall off. "By the end of the night," she says, "all the tape got unstuck."
Deborah Mack, 38, public relations executive First come the gawking men, followed by a woman who snaps a picture from a moving car. Finally there's the guy who circles the block in his Mercedes—and then gets out to stare. "People's eyes boring into the back of my head feels freaky," says the unmarried Mack, strutting down Sunset Boulevard. "It's a little weird but not horrible." She has a similar reaction to the dress itself. "It would be perfect," she says, "if it didn't plunge quite so low." She regrets not taping the dress to her cleavage: "I might have felt a little more comfortable if something had been holding me in."
Grace Reyes, 28, homemaker When she saw Jennifer Lopez on TV wearing the dress at the Grammys, Reyes recalls thinking, "She's wearing a scarf!" But when Reyes puts on the dress for a walk along the Santa Monica Pier with her husband, Noel, 30, a court assistant, she realizes, "It's not as bad as I thought." Another surprise for the mother of three sons ages 9, 4 and 19 months: "The jeweled thing in the center makes my stomach disappear," Reyes notes. "And after three kids, I have a tummy."
Gina Sierra, 39, sales representative While lounging at the W hotel bar with her boyfriend, Andreas Hernandez, 27, a stockbroker, Sierra briefly flashes her fellow patrons when the dress's top slips off. Good thing she isn't shy. "I like to dress pretty funky and sexy usually," she explains, adding that the gown would be a great addition to her wardrobe. "I could make it for $250," says Sierra, who likes to sew. "You just have to buy lots of fabric. I value a Gina Sierra much more than a Versace."