A change in schedule may mean more red-carpet love for Big Apple designers

By Sumeet BalValerie Nome and Alice M. Lee
Updated February 27, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

With the Academy Awards pushed up a month this year, celebs (and their dressers) face a wardrobe malfunction of their own: The new Oscar date conflicts with the European fashion shows — traditionally the red-carpet source. That means NYC’s Olympus Fashion Week (Feb. 6-13), which featured American designers such as Douglas Hannant, Carolina Herrera, and Carmen Marc Valvo, might become the new Oscar-frock destination. ”The stress is unbelievable,” says designer Marc Bouwer. ”We held things back from the collection specifically for actresses who don’t want to wear clothes already seen on the runway.” Celeb attendance at the shows, however, was surprisingly light — a result, insiders say, of heightened pre-Oscar chaos. ”The whole rhythm of how Hollywood is handling the awards season has completely changed,” says Oscar nominee Holly Hunter (at Vera Wang). ”I think people are disoriented.” So once the dust settles, what do designers predict we’ll see Feb. 29? ”Color, corsetry, and cummerbunds,” says Beverly Hills-based Monique Lhuillier (fans include Jennifer Connelly and Debra Messing). ”It’s all about the waist, and really goddess-y.”