Style Watch

updated 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It's a Cinch!

Looking vampishly sexy is a snap these days thanks to tummy-tucking demi-corsets that have caught on with stars such as Kate Hudson Jenna Elfman and Chloë Sevigny. "Corsets make a woman look nice and shapely," says rapper Lil' Kim, who dons a Swarovski crystal-studded gold lace version in her new "Lady Marmalade" video. The look lends attitude as well. "It's about being naughty," says Donald O'Neill, design director for Carmen Marc Valvo, who created the midriff-molding black taffeta dress Lucy Liu wore at a recent awards show. "The demi-corset is very dominatrix."

But unlike the faint-inducing styles of the past, today's tighteners, made with soft fabrics and minimal boning, are "comfort-friendly," says designer Bob Mackie. "If it is properly constructed, it feels good." Which means you can leave the smelling salts at home.

with Michael Cohen in Miami

behind the seams

Kudos to Erika Christensen for taking a lemon of a situation and making lemonade. In between takes shooting the upcoming film The Banger Sisters, the Traffic beauty took a moment to sign an autograph for a fan. As she was shaking down the ink in a gold-paint pen, the unthinkable happened—it exploded, splattering ink all over her pink satin gown. Horrified, Christensen ran to the wardrobe trailer, but the costumers told her, "No problemo!" They had several copies of the dress. In fact, the actress was thrilled to learn, she could do what she pleased with the ruined version. So she drew all over it and invited cast and crew to do the same. Goldie Hawn scribbled "I love you," while Geoffrey Rush scrawled "Breast wishes" across the bodice. Christensen took the noted frock home as a souvenir....

Pearl Harbor star Kate Beckinsale dropped a bomb on L.A. jewelry designer Erica Courtney. The actress desired 40 wire-thin 18-karat gold bracelets to stack on her arms for the film's May 21 premiere in Hawaii. But there was one hitch—Beckinsale needed the bangles within 24 hours. Courtney gamely pulled a grueling all-nighter and got the $24,000 batch of bracelets done in time to ship off to Honolulu. Aloha!...

When Angelina Jolie tears up the screen as superhero Lara Croft in Tomb Raider this month, she'll be shielding her peepers with hip metal wrap shades nicknamed "the Lara." And if the Richard Walker-designed $300 limited-edition specs just seem to speak Angelina to you, they should. The star herself chose the color of Lara's lunettes—a positively smokin' gunmetal gray....

The undead beware—Buffy the Vampire Slayer might come after you with her ever-so-deadly...Be-Dazzler? The $19 do-it-yourself stud-and-rhinestone setting machine is what Sarah Michelle Gellar is arming herself with these days. The actress has gone gaga with her hobby, bejeweling lots of bandannas, then giving them as presents to girlfriends....

Seen: Lara Flynn Boyle, in faded Earl Jeans, shopping with a chum at Henri Bendel's in New York City.

DOUBLE VISION
It was a case of stars in stripes when model Helena Christensen and actress Mary McCormack recently donned British designer Matthew Williamson's candy-colored skirt at separate events in London on the same day. Williamson understands the double flights of fancy. "It's quite flattering," he says of his creation, which he trimmed with fabric floral corsages. "It has childlike appeal: youthful and spirited."

star talk

If you could live in another era and wear the clothes of the time, which era would you choose?

Singer Trisha Yearwood
"I would have lived in the 1940s as an actress. The elegance and style of '40s Hollywood is unmatched. Glamor ruled."

Once and Again's Sela Ward
"The 1920s. They seemed to have a lot of fun then, celebrating life. It was after the war and they had reason to live."

Jerry Hall
"The '50s is my favorite era, because I really like the tight skirts. It was a very sexy time for style."

Bo Derek
"Right now is perfect. We can wear anything. In other times there were rules. I don't do well with rules."

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