02/24/1997 at 01:00 AM EST
For years, Wonderbras have seemed almost mandatory for female celebs as Hollywood has cleaved to the notion of showing cleavage. But now that such stars as Lea Thompson, Mira Sorvino and Halle Berry
are baring their backs—not their bosoms—what's chic is in turnaround. "At this point the plunging neckline has been done to death," says L.A. costume designer Robert Turturice, whose down-to-the-derriere gowns adorn Christine Baranski and Loni Anderson. "An exposed back makes a lot of impact." Adds Jenny McCarthy, who hit L.A.'s Evita premiere in a spine-tingling Christian Lacroix: "I would much rather have people look at my back. It's a nice change."
Not that the look scrimps on sex appeal. "The back is the most sensual part of a woman's anatomy," insists Narciso Rodriguez, who designed Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's back-revealing Nino Cerrutti wedding dress. But according to the happily bare-shouldered Rhonda Shear, host of USA Network's Up All Night, not everyone is better off backless. "This isn't for bony women," she says. "And you shouldn't wear this if your back is covered in freckles. That makes people want to connect the dots."