November 28, 1994 12:00 PM


Water-repellent, but no longer fashion-repellent, rubber is meeting more than the road these days as celebs make pneumatic duds de rigueur. On Oct. 12, Roseanne slithered down an L.A. runway wearing a black-and-red dress for Syren, a manufacturer of rubber wear. Heather Locklear looked slick in a purple haze on the October cover of Details. Gawkers rubbernecked at Margaret Cho at the Saturn awards (to salute outstanding sci-fi) in Hollywood in October, while Pepa of Salt ‘n Pepa sausaged into a form-fitting frock at the September premiere of Jason’s Lyric in L.A. “It’s wonderful if you have a figure like mine,” says Cho. “It’s surprisingly comfortable and gives you a great line.”

Chic as underground club wear in the ’80s, rubber broke into the mainstream this year when designers, including Donna Karan and Gianni Versace, began swaddling their models in it from head to toe. “People now don’t mind kinky associations that go with the clothes,” says Valerie Steele, professor of fashion history at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology. “From body piercing on, playing with the idea of taboo is hot right now.”

Syren designer Andy Wilkes—whose clients include Madonna, Sandra Bullock and Linda Evangelista—even dares to claim that rubber’s shrink-wrap style can flatter almost any figure. “It lifts and supports, pulling everything in,” he says. “If you’re a size 24, you should wear it, go out and give ’em hell.” But buyer beware: You may need plenty of talcum powder to help you wriggle in. Then remember that wearing the stuff can be like walking around in your own personal sauna. “The thing I don’t like about rubber,” maintains Cho, “is that it makes you sweat like crazy.”

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