Now, It's Cool to Be Well-Heeled

When was the exact moment that wearing heels with pants stopped being tacky and became chic? A long time ago, New Yorkers snickered at Los Angeles as that place where women wore jeans and pumps. Then, the right look, the cool look, worn by women boldly striding into the working world was a masterful pantsuit and flats. So many places to go, things to do. Who had time to mince around in heels? Now, every New York fashion writer is trolling Paris in her Manolo Blahnik Sabrina-inspired pumps, even with pants. Stockings are as taboo as they were when Don Johnson was sockless in Miami. On the catwalks, pants are usually shown with heels--often very high ones. And they only look cheesy sometimes. The rest of the time they look pretty sexy.

Take This Look and Steal It: At Valentino and Romeo Gigli, pale fishnet stockings gave the look of a nude leg, but with a little texture and camouflage for those pesky little veins.

An Exegesis on the Dress of the Year: The simple, sleeveless shift, worn bare of adornment save for a single strand of pearls, is as much a costume as a fringed hippie getup or a power suit. Young women wearing the usually black dresses aren't '50s debutantes. They're just trying to look as if they are.

Whatever Happened to: There are enough corsets and bustiers being shown here to make any woman wearing last year's feel secure.

Designer Doings: Christian Lacroix, who already has a jeans line and a less expensive line called Bazar, has designed a collection for the home. "That's all anyone cares about these days anyway," he says.

Celebrity Sightings: At John Galliano, Bjork and Madonna . . . The ever-faithful Kyle MacLachlan, at Vivienne Westwood and Karl Lagerfeld, where girlfriend Linda Evangelista was working hard for a living . . . Dayle Haddon at Claude Montana . . . Marisa Berenson at Emanuel Ungaro and Romeo Gigli . . . Matt Dillon and Catherine Deneuve (on opposite sides of the runway) at Jean Paul Gaultier.

About Those 'Dos: Gelled, gook-smeared, and not a curl in sight. Runway hairdos seem grounded in the premise that no coiffure, no matter how grotesque, can make a beautiful model look bad. But designers do keep trying. At Ann Demeulemeester, a blindfold of lacquered hair hid the models' eyes. At John Galliano, tresses were mud-packed, as if the head of a clay statue had been decapitated and placed on a model's body. Teased Katharine Hepburn topknots went with the period looks of Vivienne Westwood, but no real woman would venture out with hair that elaborately messy. Jean Paul Gaultier put fuzzy dreadlocks on models' heads. There are lots of hyper-straight, asymmetrical ponytails, and horse tails that would make Barbie proud.

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