Actors, musicians, and models are all sporting cowboy hats and fringe.

Cowboy chic hits the runway this season

So, where have all the cowboys gone? Maybe to Paris to see the shows. Fashion designers have suddenly rediscovered cowboy couture and are now creating clothes that even city slickers could love. This stampede on Western wear — a look that hasn’t been truly chic since 1980’s Urban Cowboy — began with that brash British designer Alexander McQueen. Unveiling his Givenchy spring collection, McQueen took the fashionistas by surprise, proclaiming Dolly Parton his muse and then herding models down the runway in fringed leather skirts and holsters. He was followed by the venerable Valentino, who lassoed the look with delicate, frontier-style white eyelet dresses, and finally, New York’s Anna Sui, who included bandanna prints among her signature rock & roll designs.

But cowboy clothing isn’t simply coming to a store near you. A herd of Western-themed movies also have stars duding up. Wrangler Jeans outfitted Robert Redford in denim for The Horse Whisperer. And given the surge in sunglasses sales after Will Smith sported a pair of Ray-Bans in Men in Black, imagine what he could do for cowboy boots when he rides high in the upcoming movie version of The Wild, Wild West. George Clooney, Smith’s West costar, is already acting with his boots on. ”He called and ordered Justin cowboy boots to wear on ER,” says Stephanie Pastor, a spokeswoman for the 118-year-old company, which also outfitted Kevin Costner for his postapocalyptic cowboy yarn, The Postman.

In music, cowboy hats have been spotted on Beck, U2’s the Edge, Sheryl Crow, and Joan Osborne, while Salt-N-Pepa dress up like cowgirls in the video of their next single, ”Giddy-up.” ”Our stylist got all the fly cow wear,” says Sandi ”Pepa” Denton. ”I was all-out in the video, but you can tone it down and wear it out — even if you don’t do the hat, the boots, and the belt.”

That’s good fashion advice, according to experts who warn against going whole hog. ”A cowboy boot every now and then is great. But a ’70s Dolly Parton homage is over the top,” says Terence McFarland, a stylist who has dressed such stars as Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

Osborne, for one, declares she’s moved on. ”It was fun,” says Osborne, ”for about a week.” So get along, little dogies. Before Western wear heads back to Tombstone.