They like black, and more black, in TV land


Like the programming, television is getting back to basics. For last Sunday's Prime-Time Emmy Awards, television's brightest stars opted for a well-groomed, elegant and sometimes colorful look.

Television just isn't the land of fantasy fashion that it once was. The "average Joe" mentality of shows like "Roseanne," "Lenny" and "Family Man" seems to have affected tastes in fashion the way "Dallas" and its imitators made sequins everyday attire.

The new fashion sobriety showed up at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium as men skipped creative tuxedos and came in simple black bow ties and traditional tuxedo jackets. Women chose well-tailored but embellished suits, simple long dresses in elegant fabrics, and more than a few wore pants.

But don't worry, glamour is far from dead. It got a face lift and is in for a comeback. Basic black, possibly the most elegant style a woman can wear, was the choice of many TV actresses. Melanie Mayron of "thirtysomething" chose a short black tank dress with a sequined bolero by C.D. Greene. Faith Ford, with '60s upswept hair and makeup, came in an Adrian Vittadini basic black, knit mini-dress encrusted with rhinestones at the neck, hem and cuffs. Susan Dey of "L.A. Law" went for pure simplicity with a short black tank dress.

"Designing Women's" Delta Burke proved that full figures can be beautiful with her full-length, low-cut black beaded lace dress. With hot pink satin lining the peplum overskirt, she looked like an antebellum queen.

Black also worked well on suits, especially the embroidered short skirt suit by Karl Lagerfeld, worn by Emmy winner Candice Bergen of "Murphy Brown."

Katey Sagal of "Married ... With Children" didn't quite ring the glamour bell with a burgundy short suit. The embroidery on the jacket dressed up what would otherwise be an acceptable choice for the office. Alfre Woodard stood apart from her often homespun characters by wearing a short, brilliant red skirt suit with an off-the-shoulder jacket.

Kimmy Robertson of "Twin Peaks" skipped the skirt entirely. She came clad in a blazer that was long for a coat but short for a dress.

Loose, elegant and well-cut pants were the favorites of several actresses. Bea Arthur of "Golden Girls" and Sharon Gless of "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill" looked almost like twins in tuxedolike pants outfits. Arthur topped black trousers with a black sequined tunic top. Gless put satin tuxedo-striped pants under a satin blouse with a black sequined collar.

Few women stars went for bare looks. The exceptions: Paula Abdul's mini-dress with jewel-encrusted halter top attached to a multicolored chiffon skirt; and Dana Delany of "China Beach," who opted for short and bright with her green shirred mini with sequined appliques.

Delany and Abdul were two of many who showed that evening clothes may be losing their attachment to black. Red and vivid jewel tones are showing up and looking great. Michele Greene of "L.A. Law" wore a luscious, full-length purple velvet dress with matching tasseled shawl. Fellow redhead and MTV VJ Julie Brown also chose a purple gown trimmed in fringe.

Estelle Getty was a standout in her red sequined gown. And Jamie Lee Curtis ignited some hearts with her shapely, simple, floor-length bright red Giorgio Armani dress. Even Jay Leno's wife, Mavis, wore a long red dress.

Designer labels weren't overabundant, with some stars choosing unknown or up-and-coming designers. Some should be out-and-going, particularly the creator of Joan Chen's confused black dress. It wrapped her hips like a rubberband and circled her shoulders in sheer chiffon. The simplicity of Armani was more successful, with Patricia Wettig of "thirtysomething" looking gracefully tailored in her Armani beaded tunic over silky peach slim trousers. Jill Eikenberry of "L.A. Law" showed why Bob Mackie is the choice if you go for glitz. Her white and gold beaded dress was both fun and elegant

Ivory may become a color of choice for men's evening attire. Dean Stockwell of "Quantum Leap" put a bolo tie with his cream tuxedo with cream cummerbund. Who designed his tux?

"Elves," quipped the actor.

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