Style Watch

updated 06/02/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/02/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Shred Alert
Hollywood's black-tie affairs are revving up with daring frocks that have been scissored and sliced for major sex appeal. Whether they're cascading with ruffles (Joy Bryant, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) or plunging to the navel (Thalia), wild-woman numbers are for those who aren't shy about showing plenty of skin. "It's an unfinished look that's luxurious and sexy," says designer Lloyd Klein. "It's for a woman who's bold and unafraid to go for it—like Bai Ling." Ling, who loved Klein's mohair-and-chiffon dress because it was "modern and romantic," advises, "Be careful with a dress this delicate. I kept getting the shreds caught in my purse; it's a little dangerous." But what's life—or fashion—without a bit of risk?

behind the seams

what was she thinking?
Usually on target, Connie Nielsen missed her mark at The Matrix Reloaded premiere in N.Y.C. Her floral dress took hits from odd accessories featuring neon colors, heavy metal and black leather. Looks like crossed wires....

TANGIER-INE DREAMS: On the Cannes beat this week, film-fest guest Claire Danes was searching for a chic, comfy daytime shoe after her nights in killer heels. At the Tod's suite at the InterContinental Carlton, Danes snapped up the stylish Tangier—a kind of sweet Audrey Hepburn flat crossed with a pointy-toe Moroccan slipper. Danes went for the tan suede ($375), while Andie MacDowell picked pink. No news on whether anyone chose the alligator version, which runs $3,800. (Mon Dieu!)

PINKETT'S CHARGE: Before hitting the Riviera, Matrix star Jada Pinkett Smith went on a major raid in New York City. Sweeping through Bagutta in SoHo, "I bought everything I could get my hands on," she says. She flew to France with four trunks' worth of designer looks, 25 pairs of shoes and a Michael Kors gown made for the Oscars (which she and hubby Will chose to skip). Even so, she laughs, "I'm still shopping. I'll be in London for The Matrix Reloaded, and I need to be dressed right." That's life as a screen queen....

SHORT TAKE: Hilary Duff has fallen in love: The perky, blue-striped velour So Low miniskirt that she wears in The Lizzie McGuire Movie has segued into her private life. "We hear that the $41 skirt spends almost no time in her closet; instead, it goes where Duff goes. (Bet her fans catch the craving....)

Swing Sets
Hollywood's earlobes have taken a vivacious turn with swingy drop earrings for evening—more streamlined than the hot chandelier style but just as seductive. Popular in the roaring '20s, this silhouette is "about a clean line and a burst of color," says celeb jeweler Fred Leighton. Paired with a coquettish head toss, what better way to say, "Come up and see me sometime?"

R.J. Graziano drop earrings, $110 a pair; R.J. Graziano, 212-685-1248.

High-Tech Tanning
Stars seeking a warm glow long ago moved beyond the tanning bed to tanning potions and most recently to the spray-on tan. Now, with Memorial Day signaling the start of bikini season, stylephiles from coast to coast are flocking to salons for the self-tanning treatment that was once a celeb exclusive. Why spray? Applied with an airbrush or in a booth with tiny jets, the process requires as little as 30 seconds and delivers even color—minus the risk of wrinkles or skin cancer. "It's the fastest growing spa service for us right now," says Anushka, who owns spas in N.Y.C. and Florida. "It's definitely addictive." Just like catching rays on the beach used to be.

Who does it?
Jennifer Aniston, Julianna Margulies, Melanie Griffith, Tori Spelling, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

How does spray-on sunning work?
Two options: You either 1. don a shower cap and step naked into a stall to be sprayed with tanner or 2. have a spa technician use an airbrush to mist you from head to toe (or on specific body parts). Drying time: about 10 minutes.

Cost per session: For a whole-body application, between $32 (for the booth version) and $120 (for the airbrush).

When do you see results?
In three to six hours.

How long before you fade?
About 7 to 10 days. (Twice-weekly or weekly touch-ups are recommended.)

Unexpected benefits: The airbrush can be used for custom contouring—creating cleavage, minimizing saddlebags, etc., by making certain areas lighter or darker.

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