April 08, 2002 12:00 PM

JULIA ROBERTS: The day after accepting her 2001 Oscar for Erin Brockovich in Valentino’s velvet-and-satin 1982 couture gown, Roberts called the designer to ask where she should return it. He insisted she keep it, saying, “How could anyone else ever wear that dress again? It has to be retired.”

DEMI MOORE: The no-label lavender number Moore shimmied into in 1992 is from the ’40s, says Rita Watnick, owner of Beverly Hills’s Lily et Cie vintage shop, where Moore bought the dress. “Construction tells you what a label doesn’t.”

WINONA RYDER: The 1994 Best Supporting Actress nominee for The Age of Innocence chose a “fun and young” 1959 Edward Sebesta dress (left) from Lily et Cie over a Giorgio Armani offering, says shop owner Rita Watnick. In 2000 (right) Ryder opted for a Pauline Trigère creation that, according to Watnick, the late Trigère had worn to pick up her first design award in 1949.

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Once owned by Marlene Dietrich, this beaded dress was given to Curtis in 1983 by Dietrich’s daughter Maria Riva. “I had it for years until I donated it to Natasha Richardson’s AIDS auction a few years ago,” says Curtis.

SUSAN SARANDON: The actress “forged her own way” in 1983 in this flapper-style dress, which probably dates from the ’20s, says Tiffany Dubin, author of Vintage Style, “A great ’20s party dress always looks right.”

DIANE KEATON: In 1995, nearly 20 years after her win tot Annie Hall, Keaton channeled the character in a suit she found in an L.A. vintage shop.

Renée Zellweger: “Her publicist, manager, assistant—everyone was in on” choosing this ’50s-era Jean Dessès gown from Lily et Cie last year, says proprietor Rita Watnick. “At the end of the day, Renée was absolutely committed to that yellow dress.”

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