February 07, 2000 12:00 PM

String Beings

Outerwear? Right now, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that string. The trendlet of the moment—simply cut coats nipped with a skinny cloth or leather tie—”goes back to Audrey Hepburn and her kind of classic clean chic,” observes stylist Rachel Zoe Rosenzweig, who has dressed Meg Ryan and Cindy Crawford.

Sometimes with a twist. In leather, the style is “a cross between a motorcycle jacket and a Renaissance look,” says Party of Five’s Jennifer Aspen. “The tie makes it look more feminine.” Notes BCBG designer Max Azria, whose fans include Sharon Stone and Ashley Judd: The skinny ties are “a much more fashionable and sexy way to cinch the waist.”

As always, there’s a string attached, warns Rosenzweig: “The tie can cut in awkward places and make you look thick around the waist.” So don’t wear bulky duds underneath. That way, raves actress Lesley Ann Warren, the jacket “molds so close to your body. It’s so sensual.”

Behind the Seams

The stars sparkled at the Golden Globes (see story, page 58), but not without moments of high-fashion drama. While selecting an 80-carat diamond necklace to wear on the big day, Angela Bassett was busted by jeweler Martin Katz for the ultimate infraction—dusty diamonds! Katz promptly gave Bassett’s engagement ring a quick polish, advising her to keep the gem gleaming by blasting it with steam from a cappuccino machine….

Best supporting actress winner Angelina Jolie pined to be her own designer, toting a white suit to Kinko’s to photocopy messages on it (“I’m like an arts and crafts person,” she says). She later ditched the ill-fitting experiment for a white silk Chanel gown….

Hilary Swank, who took the honors as best actress in a drama, hit the red carpet in Versace. She was set to don a sparkly nude-tone Randolph Duke gown until she had last-minute worries about its transparency. Or was it that she heard Charlize Theron would be sporting a similar one?…

Among the stars who got hairdresser house calls the day of the show: best supporting actor Tom Cruise, coiffed by Enzo Angileri, the man behind Rene Russo’s much-loved do; and Reneé Zellweger, by Frédéric Fekkai.

When Ally McBeal’s Jane Krakowski ripped a red satin slingback stepping into her limo, castmate Lucy Liu saved the day by inviting her home and whipping out a sewing kit.

We know why best actress nominee Leelee Sobieski hid her hands all night: raggedy nails. “I’m biting them for my next film,” she says. “I play a punk-rock chick.”…

Before leaving the Creative Artists Agency postshow bash, Gwyneth Paltrow grabbed a pashmina shawl—only to be stopped by a woman who told the actress she had the wrong wrap. A red-faced Paltrow quickly returned it.

what was she thinking?

“I thought, ‘This may be a bit risqué,’ ” actress Elizabeth Perkins says of the glittery fishnets she slipped on under her black satin Richard Tyler for the Golden Globes. But the hose weren’t Perkins’s only wardrobe woes. Her gown’s skirt opened more than thigh-high to reveal clunky booties (“It was pouring rain,” Perkins explains) and even a peek of her underwear. Once again, less definitely would have been more—tasteful, that is.

Ring In the Old

If the current baubles of choice for Hollywood’s marrying kind are antique engagement rings, it’s thanks to the influence of stylish stars like Courteney Cox Arquette Arquette, Annette Bening and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (left, wearing her 1930s platinum-set, 4-carat diamond) and their bijoux-buying mates. Even the 10-carat marquis-cut diamond ring that Michael Douglas slipped on Catherine Zeta-Jones‘s finger on New Year’s Eve was vintage 1920s art deco. Explains Mara Leighton of Fred Leighton jewelers in New York City, where Douglas made his purchase: “Michael wanted something unique and not just another solitaire on a big ring.”

Indeed, the chief appeal is that vintage pieces—which can cost well into the five figures—are one of a kind. “All the young celebrities want old and unusual stones, romantic, great mountings,” explains L.A. jeweler Neil Lane, who found a rare 1920s Asscher-cut 4-carat diamond ring for actor Ryan Phillippe when he popped the question to actress Reese Witherspoon. “I guess they’re bored with the generic jewelry.”

Star Talk

If you were banished to a desert island and could take only one beauty product, what would it be?

Aida Turturro, The Sopranos costar

“Moisturizer! I like my skin soft. I have like 18,000 moisturizers. I love them.”

Britney Spears
“Evian spray. You can spray it on your face if you get hot, or in your mouth if you get thirsty.”

Rosie Perez

“I have uncontrollable frizzies, so it would have to be an antifrizz control gel.”

Kyra Sedgwick

“I can’t live without Blistex, because my lips are incredibly dry.”

Freddie Prinze Jr., star of Down to You:

“Soap! So I don’t stink!”

DOUBLE VISION

Last week ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell went wild in a jungle-print gown almost identical (Geri’s had sleeves) to the one worn by the dress’s designer, Donatella Versace, two months ago. One question: Did the bleached-blonde hair extensions come with the outfit too?

presto change-o

Courtney Thorne-Smith is full of surprises. The Ally McBeal star cropped up at the Golden Globes with a new gamine do that’s also a shade blonder than before. The long and short of it, says her publicist: She just wanted a change.

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