September 11, 2000 12:00 PM

Red Alert

Pucker up! Fall’s must-have accessory, already brightening the kissers of Nicole Kidman, Ashley Judd and Courteney Cox Arquette Arquette, is lipstick in the reddest of reds. “It’s a femme fatale look,” says The Haunting’s Virginia Madsen. “You’re more dangerous and more daring with red lips.” Take American Beauty’s Thora Birch, for instance. “Whenever I put on red lipstick,” she says, “I can’t wait to share it by giving someone a big smack!”

Why the rage for ruby? “We’re seeing a move toward luxury in fashion,” explains Gordon Espinet, executive director of makeup artistry for M.A.C cosmetics. And crimson lipstick, adds Aerin Lauder, Estée Lauder’s executive director of creative marketing, “signals a very polished look.” But take care. “Red is not a color to wear to a Sunday barbecue,” advises Espinet. “In the wrong place, red lips are scary.”

with Alison Singh Gee and Susan Christian Goulding in Los Angeles

behind the seams

If you happen to see Meg Ryan sporting a stained suede jacket, don’t recommend a dry cleaner. The funky $1,200 outerwear, which Ryan just snapped up from L.A. designer Henry Duarte, is supposed to look like a rummage-sale castoff. Duarte rescued the left-for-dead leather from a New York City warehouse, where leaking pipes gave it its trendy distressed look. But he had to air it out for days to get rid of the aroma of mildew….

With the Sept. 10 Emmy Awards fast approaching, many attendees are in the final frock stretch. ER’s Michael Michele is already practically zipped into her pale gold chiffon Carolina Herrera gown. And Lara Flynn Boyle will likely show off a daring number by L.A.’s Barish-Nicholson, since The Practice star is said to want to support boyfriend Jack Nicholson’s designing daughter Jennifer….

What do you get for the boss who has everything? If she’s none other than the Material Mom Madonna, only a mother-of-pearl ring from Van Cleef & Arpels, priced at almost $2,000, will do. That’s what Madonna‘s manager Caresse Norman recently bestowed on the singer, picking up one for herself too as a symbolic bonded-in-baubles gesture….

Keen on knitting a dramatic multicolored wool scarf for herself, Sandra Bullock recently swept into L.A. knitting emporium Suss Design. There, she stocked up on hand-dyed German yarn, several pattern books and the latest oh-so-chic accessory, bamboo knitting needles….

Seen: Julia Roberts, in a sexy black tank paired with a red-and-white below-the-knee jungle-print skirt, munching on a chopped salad at L.A. power-lunch shrine the Ivy. The waste-not-want-not star left clutching a doggy bag….

Survival Mode

How did Survivor’s “sweetheart” keep looking good on Pulau Tiga? Colleen Haskell tells all.

What’s your usual beauty regime?

I wash my face with soap and go. That didn’t change.

Where did you bathe?

The ocean. There was an inch of salt and sand in my head when I left.

Were there mirrors?

No. You never knew if you had a zit. Sometimes I look at footage and say, “Oh, my God!”

What did you miss most?

I was glad to have scented lotions again. My first shower [afterward], I think I was in there for two hours.

winner’s circle

The Practice’s Lisa Gay Hamilton may not embrace the crimson tide when it comes to lipstick. “I’m not a red person,” she says. Yet she chose a smart “maroonish” Jean Paul Gaultier skirt and Plein Sud top for a recent awards show. Says Hamilton: “I felt sexy. It was just enough red for me to stand.”

Hey, What’s Wit Da Pinky Rings?

Are Prince Charles, David Arquette, Elton John and Sean “Puffy” Combs hoping to be tapped for roles on The Sopranos? Their prominent pinky rings certainly look the part. L.A. stylist Jeanne Yang says it’s today’s booming economy that makes men adorn their little fingers. “It’s very trendy now to be ostentatious,” explains Yang, who has worked with Mel Gibson and George Clooney. “If you can display your wealth by wearing a big, fat pinky ring, then you’ll do it.” In Prince Charles’s case there’s tradition too. He and his brothers wear signet rings decorated with the Windsor family crest on their pinkies. Historically, explains genealogist Harold Brooks-Baker of Burke’s Peerage, “wearing it on that finger would free up the hand for holding a sword.” Charles might not make such a bad Soprano after all.

Not Just a Vanity Production

It was instinct, basically, that made Sharon Stone design for Louis Vuitton. “I love their luggage,” the actress says, “and I wanted a vanity case that could fit all my stuff in a glamorous way.” Stone created three makeup carriers for Vuitton and the American Foundation for AIDS Research, which will get all her proceeds: her goatskin-lined original will be auctioned in Venice on Aug. 31; smaller $9,300 versions and $695 totes will sell in Vuitton stores. “We’re thrilled,” says a Vuitton spokesperson. So is Stone. “The bags,” she says, “are luscious.”

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