Deirdre Donahue
October 28, 1985 12:00 PM

Not long ago they minded their manners and wore what designers decreed, but today the celebs of the world are fashion free agents who go out in anything they like. Yet most of them don’t care—or spend—any less. “I vowed that if I became rich and famous, I’d never wear anything ripped, torn or patched,” Liberace has said, and he kept his vow with a vengeance. By contrast, Lisa Hartman admits one ensemble “looked like someone took a bite out of the side” and Madonna‘s trashy flash has set a new standard for chic cheek. Here, in our eyes, are the good, the ugly and, worst of all, the merely bad from this year’s celebrity fashion parade.

Most Improved Dresser

Surprise! Now that Caroline has stepped into her mother’s shoes, Monaco’s No. 1 Princess is a class act at last. Scope out that picture-book hat, that fetchingly elegant tea-length dress, those hands demurely crossed. So let’s have a little applause for the girl who’s finally left baggy behind and has also learned to cover up the bosom royal.

Belly Flop

Lisa Hartman loves to show her belly button, so she wears stuff with big holes (or nothing at all) in the midriff. She says her designer—yes, there is one—”does the cutouts right on me.” When will someone tell this lady to quit? As for that zowie-wowie punker’s coif, it wouldn’t even look good on a porcupine. “Eventually,” Lisa says, “I’ll see some other look that appeals to me.” Lisa, hurry.

Foxy Gramps

Sure this is an outrageous drag. Liberace’s furs weigh up to 175 pounds and cost up to $300,000. He’s got a ring with a gold record player that turns. So what if the Sequined One is driven—he has 27 cars—to wretched excess? It works, doesn’t it?

Animal Magnetism

“Whatever you do, don’t call them costumes,” pleads a member of Prince’s camp. “He wears the same clothes onstage he wears every day. You have to remember that Prince lives in a world he created.” Okay, a reluctant hand for the furry wonder. He has invented new style: true chic that gives you the creeps.

Go Back to the Wet T-Shirt

Jacqueline Bisset, whatever are you thinking in those Beverly Hills wading boots and that rump-length fur coat? You, who once taught us that a girl should be proud of her figure?

Most Stylish Slob

“Just this year I’ve begun to pay more attention to how I look,” says Jamie Lee Curtis. “I’m a basic California slob.” She means it.

Designer Genes

She made waves modeling sexy swim-suits, so now she just designs them, but Monaco’s Stephanie can’t please all of the people any of the time. “Cheap!” they snort when she’s punk. “Something out of Dallas,” they cry of her gala gowns. And when she has that glum stare above her broad shoulders, it’s true she can look like Dan Aykroyd in drag. The heck with all that. Stephanie, when you are good, you are very, very good.

Monster Hit

He looks like a friendly madman fleeing the maximum security ward or Frankenstein’s creature trying to mellow out. And check out that painter’s hat. Very surreal. Here’s to the Talking Heads’ classy proletarian David Byrne, who seems to be saying, “Know what, Igor? This is fun.”

Do I Hear a Strauss Waltz?

Levi’s revenues from its 501 jeans went up 26 percent this year, and they admit the Boss had something to do with it. There are no records on how sawed-off Ts and Nautilized pecs are doing, but Bruce Springsteen exudes real unbeatable truck-stop panache. Four stars for him and the diner set!

Oh, Grow Up

Sure, Material Girl gets a gold crucifix for influencing American teenies. But after a short while Victorian booties, psychedelic blazers and black stockings look like sale items. The Madonna look and the Boy Toy are over, finis, kaput. In a word, a yawn. She’ll probably think of something else—oh, Gawd!

Latest Wrinkle

Miami Vice cops Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, in their rumpled Italian suits and sockless slip-ons, are the peacocks of videoland. Hands up? Hands down!

Bad Night Out

Don’t these people ever look in the mirror? Mary Crosby (far left) showed up in a Glad bag evening gown and looked stuck on herself. Talk about giving your body a bum wrap! Brazilian beauty Sonia Braga (above, middle) says, “If you were to look in my closet, you’d think it had the clothes of six different people.” Why did she have to go out as all of them at once? Raquel Welch (above, right) published a beauty book, cut her hair down to one inch and tried to pass herself off as a bag lady. “I don’t like to feel like anyone else on the street,” she explained. And when, when, will maturing sex kitten Ann-Margret (left) yank up her bodice and stop dressing like the madam of an antebellum cathouse? The South won’t rise again, A-M.

True Shopping Confessions

In Hollywood, the land of thin bodies, fast living and unbridled desires, a new drug is rampant, and its addicts are everywhere. The craving strikes male and female and young and old with equal virulence. Some announce their dependency; others hide it, shamed by mounting piles of credit card receipts. Their addiction: shopping.

“It’s taking the place of pills and alcohol,” says Don Johnson’s girlfriend, actress Patti D’ Arbanville. “I know so many people who have these compulsions. In some circles we’re seeing more Perrier and many more Valentinos.” That explains all those Rollses with bumper stickers proclaiming “Shop till you drop” and “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”

Hollywood’s toughest customer these days surely is Carrie Leigh, 22, Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend, who drops as much as $10,000 a week at a den appropriately named Addictions. Of course, celebrity purchasers are not all the same; like your K mart habitué, each has quirks. Knight Rider’s David Hasselhoff, for example, has a hard time passing up a store window that has lamé ties, though he sends Mom or his sister in to score. Soft, fluffy Loni Anderson loves soft, fluffy things—which she stashes in the dressing room that boyfriend Burt Reynolds made for her in his house. Carpeted and mirrored, it’s called “The Jewel Box.” Anderson recently bought a $200 pair of boots solely because they had the face of a mustachioed fellow embossed on the sides. She thought he resembled Reynolds.

When Liberace indulges in his private passion for pantsuits, which can be any time, anywhere—Europe, Palm Springs, Las Vegas—he has food sent in to sustain him through his sartorial seizures. Ex-Angel Cheryl Ladd admits that she’s mad for bathing suits—she has at least 20 and she’s hunting for more. A Hawaii vacation was positively ruined by the theft of a bikini. “I spent the whole time looking around to see if anyone was wearing it,” Ladd says. “That was my favorite suit, dammit.” For Dallas’ Linda Gray, purchasing power is a thrill. “I love it,” she confesses. “I have to see, touch and feel every outfit before I buy it.” But does Diana Ross really care? Six of her dresses were once ugly $49 tunics that designer Michael Roche ripped up with his teeth and scissors. Then he dyed them with hair coloring favored by London punks and splattered them with coffee, house paint and glitter. The new price tag: $475 apiece.

Stevie Nicks, Morgan Brittany, Barbra Streisand, Carrie Fisher and Diahann Carroll get their fashion kicks in West Hollywood. The top spot there is Melrose Avenue, whose emporiums dispense Oriental designs, stretch pants, brocade shoes, leather hats and vintage clothing. Madonna, who pioneered what is known as the “à la carte” style, browses in Melrose boutiques. She has been known to dress up in “men’s silk pajamas in Japanese prints,” says her designer, Marlene Stewart, who did the singer’s wedding dress and many of her video ensembles. Stewart adds, “Madonna‘s private look is very similar to her onstage look. She really lives in these clothes. She’ll try just about anything once, and she’ll keep changing.”

Jamie Lee Curtis picks up secondhand stuff too. Though she grew up in California, the land that turned clothes-buying into a sport, Curtis claims, “I hate to shop.” She’d rather raid husband Christopher Guest’s closet, nabbing his T-shirts and his 35-inch pants, which she cinches in with a belt.

Another star who gussies up with whatever is at hand is Dynasty‘s Pamela Bellwood. She once found herself in Manila with exactly two cotton frocks and an invitation to dine at the presidential palace. Bellwood put on one dress, then wrapped the other around her waist. “The dinner turned out to be a fashion show,” she says. “And everybody there wanted to know about this ‘new look’ from Hollywood.”

Sally Field also has found herself stranded out in the couture-starved wilds, but Hollywood’s Holly’s Harp boutique came to the rescue. On location in Arizona, Field needed a dress to wear to the Academy Awards last March. Holly’s Harp’s manager, a longtime supplier, took a rack of gowns, each very different, and air-shipped them out to Sally.

To avoid the folly of fashion felony—having another dinner guest show up in the same threads—Lisa Hartman, Vanity, Apollonia, Heather Locklear, Sheila E. and other trash queens travel to the Melrose Avenue workshop of designer Ellene Warren, home of heavily embellished, slit-to-the-devil, beaded jersey numbers that cost up to $3,000. Says Warren, an absolute master mixologist of flash ‘n’ trash, “We’re dealing with a new generation of women of substance. They want wild clothing.” The more traditional Raquel Welch likes the various L.A. and New York boutiques owned by the queen of sweat-suit chic, Norma Kamali, and flies to them “like a homing pigeon.”

Then there is that rare bird who so detests shlepping that she pays others to do it for her. Lynda Carter has a fashion coordinator, Sheela Tessler, who appears laden with boxes twice a year. “Lunch and shopping with the girls is not my idea of an ideal afternoon,” Lynda says, “but it’s a high form of status to be seen at Giorgio’s in Beverly Hills or emerging from some boutique on Rodeo Drive with bags and bags of designer clothes.” For Pia Zadora, Tessler often heads to a pre-teen store in Beverly Hills, since Pia’s five-foot frame carries a size 2 dress. Tessler has an even bigger responsibility: She coordinates matching outfits for Zadora’s even tinier daughter, Kady, just 10 months old.

Cybill Shepherd is unabashedly honest about her sprees. “I’m totally compulsive,” she sighs. Cybill’s outlet, however, is catalogues. Her pencil really clicks during late nights on the Moonlighting set. She loves to buy that way because she detests stores. “When I get on an escalator, I break out in hives. If I spend 17 minutes in a store, I get shopper’s fatigue.”

While Cybill rarely spends as much as $300 on a dress via the mails, some celebrities will shell out stratospheric sums just to feel safe, claims author Jackie (Hollywood Wives) Collins. “Here,” she sniffs, meaning L.A., “they go for the price tag. They say, ‘Let’s wear what everyone knows cost $4,000.’ ”

Celebrities sometimes try to cash in on their names. Boy George once made a salesperson cry at Manhattan’s Antique Boutique by ranting that he wanted a discount on a silver fox coat because the store would profit from his patronage. Refused, he whipped out a roll of bills and paid cash. The really rich, such as Joan Rivers and Jackie O, never give thrift short shrift. Jackie sells many of her old togs to Manhattan resale outlets like the exclusive Encore shop. Chauffeurs regularly arrive there with the flotsam and jetsam of a society woman’s closet—sometimes a hundred outfits at a time. Rivers, on the other hand, doesn’t actually own most of those Oscar de la Renta numbers that she sports on The Tonight Show. She borrows them and returns them after giving Oscar verbal plugs on TV.

The fashion freak with the best deal has got to be Miami Vice‘s Philip Michael Thomas. Insisting that he dresses “for the taste buds,” Thomas sees his clothes as “an outward expression of my inward commitment to excellence” and believes that “the colors should accent your aura.” But he also claims that he and his money are seldom parted. “I haven’t spent a dime on clothes since Miami Vice premiered. People are always giving me things. I get clothing sent to me in the mail. If I go into a shop, they give me whatever strikes my eye.” And that includes the diamond he sports in his left ear and the $20,000 Ebel watch on his wrist. Now that’s a style of dressing that makes addiction a noble endeavor.

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