Only months ago it seemed that Hollywood had gone prim and proper, what with all those Jackie O wannabes abounding. But given the undeniably low va-voom factor of pink suits and pearls, it was inevitable that celebs—including Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, Samantha Mathis and Angela Bassett—would bring lace, that longtime vamp staple, back into vogue. "Recently, clothes had been more conservative and sophisticated," says designer Cynthia Rowley, who counts Claire Danes and Tori Spelling among her fans. "Lace, in reaction to that, is more fun and sexy." Richard Tyler, whose recent fall show was awash in the peek-a-boo fabric, agrees. "Lace caresses the body," he says. "It's provocative. It's a tease."
First revived last fall by the likes of Tom Ford at Gucci and Jean Paul Gaultier, lace is currently turning up in everything from citrus-colored shift dresses to skintight shirts. "It got its roots in the boudoir—it's taking slips one step further," says Hollywood fashion stylist Phillip Bloch, whose clients include Meg Ryan and Vanessa Williams. "It has a sexy, sheer quality that women can't resist." Yet unlike, say, low-slung hip-huggers or vinyl microminis, lace delivers a hint of Victorian reserve. "It can be romantic, classic or sexy—or all three at once," says designer Norma Kamali. But with style-makers already moving on to remakes of '70s-style maxicoats and jumpsuits, don't expect the holey spirit to last long. "The one thing we know about fashion," says Kamali, "is that it always changes."