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The Late, Late Show: inside VH1's Fashion Awards

How does one arrive? Fashionably late, of course.

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Note to VH1: next time, don’t schedule a show during rush hour. Manhattan’s beastly traffic felled some of the beauties attending the VH1 Fashion Awards, held Oct. 24 in the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Booking from the set of Woody Allen‘s latest project, Devil’s Advocate star Charlize Theron arrived so late, she almost missed her onstage cue. ”I was doing a scene 15 minutes ago,” she yelled over her shoulder as she ran through fans and the press corps waiting outside. And minutes before Theron’s entrance, another tardy presenter bounded through the backstage area — in stilettos, to boot — yelling ”Clear the way!” It was Demi Moore. At least NYPD Blue‘s Kim Delaney was prompt. After a full day of location shooting, it took her only 30 minutes to transform from downscale detective to a Donna Karan-clad presenter.

But timing wasn’t the only thing on people’s minds. Some celebs were pondering more meaningful issues. ”People talk about the violence in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, but deciding what to wear to a fashion event is a real problem,” joked Sarah Jessica Parker in a one-sided dress held up by fishing line. Courtney Love, who won the award for Best Personal Style, concurred: ”I was thinking ‘I’m not wearing Versace tonight. F— them, they don’t own me.’ I thought this [her shiny pink shift] was Moschino. But somebody tricked me — it’s Versace.” Perhaps the entire evening of fashion fretting was summed up best by Fiona Apple: ”It’s like a dream world,” said the Most Stylish Video award winner, ”and yet it’s also like an adolescent girl’s worst nightmare.”