January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

NEVER MIND THE UNSEASONABLY chilly 48°F weather during last week’s 23rd annual People’s Choice Awards, held in a drafty hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. During the ceremonies, which honor the stars from TV, movies and music-whom the public deems most popular, celebs managed to keep comfy without compromising their style. “It’s freezing cold!” said ER’s Laura Innes, who bundled up in a white velvet Armani pantsuit to accept her show’s statuette for favorite dramatic series. Natalie Cole, clad in a beige cocktail dress, took cover under a chinchilla stole. “This is real fur, darling,” she said. “I’ve wanted it all my life. I’m making no apologies!”

Nor did the weather dampen the revelers’ spirits. “I feel like a princess,” said Independence Day’s Vivica A. Fox, aglitter in $200,000 worth of borrowed Van Cleef & Arpels baubles. “Diamonds definitely make a difference.” Caroline in the City’s Lea Thompson, a standout in Hervé Leger, was also aglow: She lost her Art Deco brooch—a gift from her husband, director Howard Deutch—but her publicist found it backstage. “I thought it was gone forever,” she said. “I could have had a heart attack!”

Later, at the postshow bash at the nearby Museum of Flying, stars including favorite female in a new TV series Brooke Shields and presenter Drew Carey noshed on chicken burritos and apple crisps. “I’m kinda on a diet,” said Carey, who came with cosmetology student Elena Mazzucchelli. “I’ve got to watch myself.” Don Johnson, though, was ready to relax after serving as co-host with Touched by an Angel’s Roma Downey. “When I get butterflies, they have razor blades for wings,” he joked. “The experience reminded me of an acid trip I once took in the ’60s.”

JANICE MIN

STEVEN COJOCARU and ANNA DAVID in Santa Monica

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