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HAUTE IN HERRE: It might have been too racy for prime-time, but curator Harold Koda is happy to include the scandalously sheer Chanel gown Jennifer Lopez wore to the Oscars in 2001 in the upcoming “Goddess” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. He compares the diva’s look with the nipple-revealing wet draperies worn by the Nike of Samothrace and her peers, sculpted during the Hellenistic age.

“I’m trying to juxtapose something contemporary and very heated up with this notion of connecting it to the roots of classicism,” he said. “Today, designers are using classicism for an explicitly erotic end.”

This story first appeared in the March 17, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Of course, Tom Ford, for one, knows all about explicit eroticism. Ford will co-chair the Costume Institute benefit on April 28, along with Vogue’s Anna Wintour and Nicole Kidman, and dresses from his fall 2002 Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent collections will be included in the show. Sure, there will be perfectly draped Mme. Grès dresses on display, too, but the saucy contemporary angle ensures “a bigger spectrum of the public is going to be able to enjoy the show,” said Koda.

Just to send their steamy point home, last week gala invitations went out printed with a blush-inducing image courtesy of Helmut Newton. What’s next, Nelly as MC?

FAMILY FIRST: Renée Zellweger made her way to Pace, a Laurel Canyon spot frequented by area locals, for a quiet dinner with the family on Thursday night. But when George Clooney showed up — on his vintage motorcycle, no less — the Zellweger clan could hardly compete. The Oscar nominee introduced Clooney all around, then turned her attention on Clooney and Clooney alone, chatting with the heartthrob all night.

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