April 08, 2002 12:00 PM

It was love at first sight when CATHERINE ZETA-JONES spotted her 1999 gown at Versace’s Paris couture show. “When I saw it,” she says, it was “what I used to dream about wearing.”

“Donatella Versace really dolled me up,” LUCY LIU said of her see-through dress in 2000. “I didn’t look at any other dresses. This was it.”

In 1991 CINDY CRAWFORD attended the Oscars (with then-boyfriend Richard Gere) wearing a flame-red Versace dress flown in from Milan for the big night.

Best Actress nominee LAURA LINNEY (You Can Count on Me) chose Valentino after being wooed by several designers in 2001. “You can tell when it’s the right dress,” she says. “You put it on and it feels right.”

The color of this Halston dress—a vivid crimson—would henceforth be known as “ELIZABETH TAYLOR red,” announced the designer at a ’76 post-Oscar bash.

Best Supporting Actress nominee JOAN ALLEN (The Crucible) says she didn’t need any borrowed jewelry in 1997. “The red dress [by Timothy Dunleavy] spoke for itself.”

“Red is my color,” said last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner MARCIA GAY HARDEN (Pollock) of her scarlet Randolph Duke design.

UMA THURMAN went for old-Hollywood sophistication in this pleated Alberta Ferretti sheath in 2000. Asked if he helped choose it, husband Ethan Hawke replied, “She needs no assistance.”

GEENA DAVIS took a fashion risk in a taffeta original by designers Ruth Meyers and Bill Hargate in ’92, but Women’s Wear Daily slammed her “Little Bo Peep dress.”

ELLEN DEGENERES (in a Richard Tyler tux) said she and then-partner ANNE HECHE (in a Cerruti gown) dressed “for comfort” in ’99, “because it’s a long, long day.”

Richard Tyler created this 1993 installment of DIANE KEATON’s long-running Annie Hall look. “It’s not for everybody,” Tyler says. “You have to have an attitude.”

Before taking a career break, CELINE DION said in 1999, “Why not try something different?” according to stylist Annie Horth. But her backward tuxedo by Christian Dior bombed with critics.

After WHITNEY HOUSTON sang “When You Believe” in ’99 in this Valentino gown and matching coat, the dress was knocked off by ABS and sold in department stores.

Vibrant in electric blue chiffon from Donatella Versace, CHRISTINE TAYLOR says that she chose last year’s wave-motif gown for its “fun color, that I wouldn’t normally wear.”

“I had to unzip it and lie on my back in the limousine all the way to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion,” RAQUEL WELCH said of her 1979 Loris Azzaro cat suit, which was later auctioned for charity.

When GLENN CLOSE donned Geoffrey Beene’s cobalt sequined sheath in 1991, the designer “was thrilled,” he says. “I thought she never looked better.”

“Maybe my dress was her lucky charm,” says Richard Tyler of 1997 Best Actress winner FRANCES MCDORMAND (Fargo).

Representing her 1986 movie Blue Velvet, ISABELLA ROSSELLINI was aptly dressed in a Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo gown.

True blue to Ralph Lauren, Penélope Cruz, in 2000, compared Oscar dressing to “preparing for a wedding.”

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