The Scout: EW's Field Guide to the Next New Things

The first major fashion event since Sept. 11, the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards, which took place in NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom Oct. 19 (the show aired Oct. 23), drew stars who had more on their minds than the Model of the Year. ”An event like this doesn’t hold huge amounts of attention at a time like this,” says Pearl Harbor’s Josh Hartnett, clad in a zip-up jacket. ”People are scared, and for this to be pulled off without anything happening, maybe people will feel a bit safer.”

Other celebs followed Hartnett’s dressed-down approach: Mark Wahlberg wore jeans and a sweater, accessorized only with an FDNY cap, while No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani sported a belly-baring, mesh-accented outfit she made herself. Several designers, including Vera Wang and Tommy Hilfiger, eschewed red-carpet drama and donned red-white-and-blue T-shirts created by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (proceeds go to the Twin Towers Fund). And even erstwhile exhibitionist Lil’ Kim came in relatively demure Versace. ”I like to look very rich and classy and glamorous,” she trilled.

Not that everyone opted for casual: Renee Zellweger, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hilary Swank came in glitzy getups from Stella McCartney, Helmut Lang, and Yves Saint Laurent, respectively. No matter how people dressed, the consensus was that the night signaled a much-needed return to folly. ”I’m hoping, at least in the fashion industry, that we don’t take ourselves so seriously anymore,” says ex-supermodel Iman. Adds Goo Goo Doll Johnny Rzeznik: ”It’s great everybody’s having a good time, getting all dressed up and having a big party.”

Party guests included Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in ruffles reminiscent of Prince circa 1984, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Jim Carrey, and Destiny’s Child. ”I thought I was going to get the lifetime achievement award for black pantsuits,” joked Clinton, who urged viewers to visit NYC.

The gathering — which went forward after the Emmys were postponed twice and Grammy producers announced plans for a scaled-back show — was also a good indicator that awards-season fashion may be subdued this year. Designers and stylists are certainly preparing for the possibility. ”Fashion mirrors our society and culture, so of course this large-scale tragedy has put things into perspective,” says Giorgio Armani, who was planning to dress stars like Debra Messing and Lisa Kudrow for the Emmys. ”Frivolous things will certainly take backstage.”

Then again, it is still Hollywood. ”People are gonna dress the way they want to dress,” says stylist Vincent Boucher, who will outfit Kim Cattrall for the Emmys on Nov. 4. ”There’s still glamour, but it’s more of a discreet glamour.”