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Designers eye Emmy as gateway to glitz

TV is seen as a great outlet to show off the latest fashion trends.
Joan Rivers, left, and her daughter Melissa blow kisses as they arrive for the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in this Sept. 18, 2005 file photo at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.Kevork Djansezian / AP file
/ Source: Reuters

Looking for the latest hot item in fashion? Tune into Sunday’s Emmy Awards and you might catch a glimpse of the next big trend on the red carpet, like pearl-encrusted bra straps.

As millions of Americans watch their favorite television stars, designers and retailers are banking that the celebrities will create buzz about their products and spur sales.

“I think people are looking toward television for their fashion news instead of fashion magazines and movies,” said David Wolfe, creative director of consultant The Doneger Group. ”They relate to television and certainly the people who are on television.”

That’s the hope of Orit Eckstein, one of the many designers hoping to reap the benefit of television exposure. Eckstein, whose freshwater pearl-encrusted Zbra straps will be worn by three Emmy attendees, said courting celebrity stylists was a way to get valuable free publicity.

According to Eckstein, “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria will wear the pearl-adorned bra straps in an upcoming episode and the show’s stylist has ordered more.

“It’s going to be all over this next season,” Eckstein said. “Women see them and that’s how a fashion trend starts. Everyone wants to look like whoever they see on TV.”

While Hollywood has sparked many fashion trends, it is often television that drives the dissemination of casual looks across the country.

With quicker shooting schedules than film, television stylists can jump on the latest trends so that by episode’s end, teenagers from California to New York are clamoring to dress like their TV idols.

“With television, it’s relatively quick turn, sometimes it can be instantaneous,” said Matt Meyerson of public relations firm BWR, which specializes in product placement. Citing ”American Idol” as an example, Meyerson said, “I can give them something today and they’ll wear it tomorrow.”

Robin West, costume designer for “The O.C.,” said she often hears teenagers analyzing their favorite fashions from the show’s past season.

“We get a lot of feedback wondering where things came from,” West said, adding that styles from popular retailers Abercrombie & Fitch , Limited Brands’Victoria’s Secret and Guess? Inc  all are worn on the show.

While gowns worn for televised awards shows are often prohibitively pricey, sometimes a red-carpet item has an immediate impact on mass market retail, as when Sharon Stone donned a black Gap  turtleneck to the 1996 Oscars, turning the simple garment into a must-have item.

But not all awards shows or television seasons are created equal, fashion watchers say. “Sex in the City,” considered the Holy Grail of television vogue, catapulted exclusive brands like Manolo Blahnik and Prada to household-name status.

This year’s television schedule, some say, lacks the fashion excitement that used to drive millions to obsess over Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyles on “Friends.”

“’Lost’ is a big show. That’s on a desert island. How is that related to fashion?” asked Frasier Ross, owner of the specialty Beverly Hills boutique Kitson.