Designers looking to reflect newfound optimism

Every year, the style cognoscenti predict that there will be more color coming out of the closet and yet, every year, celebs and fashionistas alike resort to their same old safe black wardrobes.

Last year’s Golden Globes was no exception, with basic black and navy blue dominating the red carpet. Nicole Kidman looked severe in her long black Yves St. Laurent dress, while “Friends” stars Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox Arquette decked themselves out in conservative, tuxedo-like suits.

There were a few splashes of color, however, such as Kim Cattrall’s bright orange Eric Gaskins gown and Jennifer Garner’s tomato-red Vera Wang sheath.

The somber mood was mostly influenced by everyone still reeling from the events of Sept. 11. What has happened in the year since is that designers have definitely brightened their outlooks.

“Certainly people want to express a kind of optimism,” says celebrity stylist Vincent Boucher, who has worked with Marisa Tomei and Keifer Sutherland and last year dressed Globes nominee Thora Birch in a Richard Tyler dress of jade silk overlayed with black chiffon. “Color is becoming more of a trend on the red carpet; albeit softer, offbeat, subtle color.”

He cites last fall’s Emmy Awards, in which Aniston glowed in a pale peach Christian Dior gown and Oprah Winfrey wowed in her butter-yellow Bradley Bayou, as a precursor of gowns to come.

Some of the designers Boucher predicts will be getting a little play come Globes time are Alexander McQueen (“he’s our most masterful designer right now”) and Calvin Klein, who won praise for a spring collection that “was a feminized, pretty take on what he usually does.”

Upstarts like Zac Posen — a Natalie Portman favorite who’s carved a niche for himself by bringing back some of the screen siren glamour of the ’30s and ’40s — might make a debut at the Globes.

Another trend that is making waves, not only in fashion, but also in films like “The Hours” and “Far From Heaven,” is the ’50s silhouette.

Julianne Moore cornered the market in the constricted ’50s housewife department with her roles in both those films, while designers like Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan have come back to the decade with circle skirts, polka-dot prints and cigarette pants. A ’50s-ish palette of jewel tones including rust, emerald green and burgundy might make a red-carpet appearance.

What’s most important for Globes fashion, however, is that everyone have a little fun.

“There’s such a reverence for the Oscars,” Boucher says, “so people take less chances. The Globes are a place for people to experiment and see what they can get away with. Remember the year Hilary Swank won the Academy Award? Well, she wore an almost transparent Versace dress to the Golden Globes. They’re like one big party.”

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