Style Watch

updated 04/02/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/02/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

String Theory
Choosing trend-friendly fashions can keep even the coolest celebs tied up in knots. But this season savvy stars like Courteney Cox Arquette Arquette and Britney Spears find that the latest looks come with strings attached. Seventies-style lace-ups, which these days come in fabrics like denim and leather, are "real hippie and exciting," says Frankie B. jeans designer Daniella Clarke, who has Daryl Hannah and Rosanna Arquette tying them on. "It's so sexy that you can just pull a string and the pants can come undone." Plus, adds New York City-based leather designer Anton, it's a style that translates to both genders. "They're hot, even for men," he says. "It works either way." Best of all, there's no need to be a Boy Scout to untangle the lace-up's many possibilities. "Don't make them too edgy," says Anton, who advises pairing the pants with a sleek leather blazer. "That way you make them more sophisticated." In fact, the style's versatility is outweighed only by its practicality. Notes Wild Orchid singer Stacy Ferguson: "If you eat you can expand the laces. And if you don't, you can tighten them up."

with Karen Brailsford in Los Angeles

behind the seams

Has Sean "Puffy" Combs gone a-courtin'? The newly acquitted music mogul (see story, page 67) recently swept into the tony Madison Avenue pet boutique Zitomer Z Spot and dropped $110 for a white faux-fur doggy coat. Puffy's own pooch, a shar-pei named Honey, is too big for the chic little item, but it would be a perfect fit for Reina, a Chihuahua whose owner holds a certain fascination for Combs: Jennifer Lopez....

Dish: A little birdie chirps that Pamela Anderson is looking to revamp her image with a more elegant look. The star's stylist recently scooped up a selection of tame togs from an L. A. boutique—not a low-plunging number in sight—for the V.I.P. star....

The surroundings at Jaguar's Tribute to Style last week were glam, re-creating Rodeo Drive in a Santa Monica Airport hangar. But the bidding war between guests Elizabeth Hurley and Jennifer Tilly wasn't so pretty. Both desired Tiffany & Co. earrings featuring 34 diamonds weighing 1.58 carats, and both bid furiously through the silent auction. But it was Tilly who nabbed the sparklers with a winning bid of $3900....

Shopping happy this weekend were Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, raiding boutiques together on L.A.'s trendy Melrose Avenue. But the tag team was on a mission, stocking up on duds for their next flick, The Sweetest Thing. I hear the fashion plates selected spiffy designer outfits by Marc Jacobs at one stop. Sweet, indeed....

Seen: Julia Roberts in slacks and a black sweater, making a beeline for the Clinique counter at a Connecticut department store. The ravishing Roberts picked up Quickliner for Eyes in the Roast Coffee shade and a bottle of Clinique Happy perfume.

star talk

What's your favorite Oscar dress from past Academy Awards shows?

Vivica A. Fox
"I remember Cher's [Bob Mackie gown from 1986]. I loved it. I'd wear that, but I'd have to make sure everything was totally tight and right."

The View's Lisa Ling
"Charlize Theron last year in the orange Vera Wang. She just looked so vintage Hollywood. That took the cake for me."

The Practice's Maria Sokoloff
"I've always been a big fan of that dress Cate Blanchett wore [in '99] with the birds embroidered on the back. It was really original."

Down to Earth's Regina King
"Probably what Halle & Berry wore to the Oscars five years ago. It was a purple Valentino."

Reba McEntire
"Susan Saran-don's gown when she won Best Actress [in '96]. The color was beautiful. I'm a redhead, so I love rust."

winner's circle
A gleaming Rene Russo lit up the opening of the new Tod's Boutique in L.A. with a crystal-beaded dress and fringed wrap by her favorite designer, Michael Kors. "It's classic elegance," says stylist Ricci DeMartino. "Just the right amount of sparkle and glamor."

He's Haute Stuff!
Save the monkey suits for Planet of the Apes. Robert Downey Jr.'s high-wattage garb—like his electric-blue Versace suit with white loafers and a pink Versace jacket—is earning kudos. "He's taking small risks," says L.A. stylist George Blodwell, "but it's done so tastefully it works." Ally McBeal costume designer Yana Syrkin helps Downey dress to thrill. "I used to bring him [regular] tuxedos, but he goes for the fun stuff," she notes. "It says he's alive."

The Stone Age
Borrowing from Bedrock trendsetter Wilma Flintstone, celebs like Téa Leoni and Angie Harmon are sporting boulder-size rings. "It's a great conversation starter," says That '70s Show's Mila Kunis. To best mine the look, says Rafinity jeweler Ann Whatu, wear natural stones on the middle finger "to better balance the hand." Being bold helps too since, she adds, "if you're fabulous enough to pull it off, anything goes."

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