By Elizabeth P. Valk/Publisher
December 11, 1989 12:00 PM

The state of fashion as we reach 1990 is at an all-time low,” says New York City interior designer Mario Buatta with a sigh, after reviewing the entries in our annual survey of celeb style. “It’s pretty ridiculous. I’ve never seen so many fashion victims.” So far the Prince of Chintz has managed to evade the carping of fashion pundits himself, but he and his four fellow judges were happy to toss barbs—and the occasional bouquet—at both the chic and the shameless.

The rest of our style council: Julie Brown, the outré actress who fashioned Earth Girls Are Easy in her own color-me-kooky image; country music’s k.d. lang, the rhinestone cowgirl who has taken short hair to new lengths; natty Tommy Nutter, the Savile Row tailor who dressed the Joker in Batman and provides suits for Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Elton John; and Faith Ford, who as the ditsy Corky on Murphy Brown knows that looking smart is more important than acting smart.

“It was great fun,” says Nutter, who thumbed through piles of photos, culled from the thousands that land in the photo department during the year, to identify style-makers and breakers. “I tried to be as truthful as possible without being condescending.” Buatta was distressed that the well-heeled were not always well dressed. “People are letting the clothes wear them instead of them wearing the clothes,” he said. Brown was witty but wary. “Being a judge is a lot of pressure,” she says. “If I say something is uncool and it turns out to be the next coolest thing, then I look like an idiot.” Julie’s right: Fashion’s not easy. We thank all our judges for taking the risk.