Power Designers

By Jess Cagle
Updated October 28, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the entertainment industry, fashion has two purposes: to scream, ”Look at me!” or to snarl, ”Look out, you.” And the world listens to the fashion designers whom the rich and famous have made rich and famous. A generation of women added Adrian’s shoulder pads after he beefed up Joan Crawford on screen; in the 1970s Diane Keaton’s mannish Ralph Lauren duds in Annie Hall made menswear women’s; designer Alan Flusser’s tailored suits in Wall Street defined the 1980s power look for men; and following Barbra Streisand’s lead, smart women in the ’90s are looking smarter in Donna Karan. Herewith, a few samples from the five top trendsetters, who have seduced the industry’s elite with postmodern appeal: ’90s earnestness supplemented with traditional glamour (but, please, no boas).

Hip Measurements
Richard Tyler
* Age: 46 * Pitch: Impeccable hand-tailoring and unexpected fabrics in Technicolor; Armani, but loaded with rock & roll attitude. Model-actress Tyra Banks describes Tyler’s tastefully theatrical clothes as ”sexy” with ”a very angelic, innocent, pure touch that’s not over the top. They’re costumes for real life.” Adds Candice Bergen: ”He has a fresh new spin on pantsuits.” * Also starring: Cher, Tom Cruise, Geena Davis, Robert Downey Jr., Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Heather Locklear, Paul Reiser, Julia Roberts, Roseanne, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Rod Stewart, Sharon Stone * Admission: Those coveted pantsuits and gowns go for $1,500 to $3,500; men must dig a little deeper, with suits and tuxedos starting at $1,900 and climbing as high as $3,600.

Dangerous Curves
Pamela Dennis
* Age: 34 * Pitch: Updated, form-fitting glitz for the health-conscious body. For women only. Well, not always. ”Pamela Dennis understands true glamour in the modern sense,” says RuPaul. ”Her gowns are timeless and sexy.” * Also starring: Cindy Crawford, Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury, Joan Lunden, Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, Anna Nicole Smith, Elizabeth Taylor, Marla Maples Trump * Admission: Her gowns start at $1,000, and can set you back as much as $4,000.

Financial Statements
Giorgio Armani
*Age: 60 * Pitch: Look up power tool in the dictionary, and you will find one of the designer’s epitome-of-elegance creations. ”I adore Armani,” says comedian-actress Kathy Najimy. ”But he keeps calling me in the middle of the night asking, ‘Tweed? Plaid? Tweed? Plaid?’ I never know what to say.” * Also starring: Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Michael Ovitz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan * Admission: Men’s top-of-the-line suits and tuxes go for $1,800 to $2,300. Women’s suits start at $1,800; gowns flow up to $7,000.

Comfort Zone
Donna Karan
* Age: 46 * Pitch: Conservative hip for men; glamorous but exceedingly wearable for women. ”Her clothes are right for Murphy Brown,” says Bergen, ”because they allow me to look professional, sexy, and elegant. Above all, they’re comfortable, which scores high with me.” * Also starring: Hillary Clinton, Glenn Close, Tom Hanks, Sherry Lansing, Al Pacino, Diane Sawyer, Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis * Admission: Women’s suits average $1,800, gowns $1,875; men’s suits and tuxes run from $800 to $1,600.