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LOS ANGELES — Felicity Huffman imparted some wisdom at Sunday night’s Emmys to all those younger actresses following her down the red carpet: “Everything goes south. Everything.”

Well, it hasn’t hurt Huffman, who scored the best actress trophy for “Desperate Housewives.” But perhaps some of the younger set (as well as older ones) should have listened to her. There was an unprecedented exposure of décolletés and shoulders — both for good and bad, gravity being gravity, after all — at the 57th annual awards, showing off what might have finally replaced the midsection as Hollywood’s cherished sweet spot.

Unless, of course, one’s in a motherly way. Nearly seven months large, Jennifer Garner shimmied into a curve-hugging, black satin Badgley Mischka — right off the rack — and proudly displayed her bump to all and sundry. A more demure Heidi Klum, who gave birth only a week ago, opted for an airy Christian Dior.

Meanwhile, the PYTs who hit the show or the after parties also went for the evening’s more glamorous theme: Rachel Bilson in a platinum Michon Schur, Alyson Hannigan in Reem Acra and Mischa Barton in nude Oscar de la Renta.

Perfection and the red carpet are rarely synonymous, though. At times Halle Berry veered toward wardrobe malfunction with the fluttering, high front slit in her flowy Ungaro. And the dangling tiers of jet beading on Charlize Theron‘s Chanel Haute Couture cocktail dress gave the lithe blonde the effect of being twice her size.

There were plenty of threats of train wrecks at every turn, too, with all the yardage trailing many actresses (haven’t they learned by now?). At the TV Guide after party, Marcia Cross‘ handler followed her like a lady-in-waiting, constantly crouching to bundle up a mass of emerald taffeta at the actress’ heels.

“It’s such a gorgeous gown — but she fell backstage,” later revealed “Desperate Housewives” producer Marc Cherry, still chuckling at the memory of the Elie Saab gown. “You couldn’t see it, but she was really pained there for a while. At the end of the evening, she was fine. But, ah, the risk of fashion.”

This story first appeared in the September 20, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Although the train on her Catherine Malandrino dress measured much less, Maggie Grace knew it was only a matter of time. “I love the weight of it, but ask me again in six hours,” laughed the “Lost” star.

Patricia Arquette originally intended to tap a local “designer” — her brother, the notorious drag diva Alexis Arquette — but instead ended up shrink-wrapped in an ivory silk Badgley Mischka because of both her filming schedule for NBC’s drama, “Medium,” which garnered her a trophy, and some friendly family advice.

Alexis had planned to silk-screen artwork by Patricia’s young children all over a gown. The actress changed plans, though, explaining: “My son said, ‘Mom, that would be embarrassing.'”

Out of the mouths of babes.

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