LADIES FIRST

This is not, repeat not, Hilary Swank’s Randolph Duke.
Joan Allen left the shrinking violet persona at home, alighting on the carpet in Duke’s killer mermaid dress for the Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
“Bye-bye Pat Nixon, hello modern woman!” Allen declared. Owing to the potent presence of this year’s awards show shoo-in, Julia Roberts, and no doubt to the fashion rigor of those “Sex and the City” libertines, the glamour ante was high at Sunday night’s awards — and so were the convictions of the ladies filing into the theater.
“Anything concerning SAG that’s good for a woman is important,” said Roberts, referring to fashion’s sly attack on the notorious boys’ club mentality of the Screen Actors Guild. Roberts was so keen on her outfit — a Ralph Lauren chocolate suede skirt and coat — that she gabbed about it all weekend, even though friends had counseled her to dress more formally.
“Law and Order”‘s Angie Harmon displayed similar confidence.
“I saw my dress at Mr. de la Renta’s fall show and practically ripped it off the model,” she said.
Rita Wilson knew it would be Gucci, even if the dress itself had expressed a bit of resistance.
“When I put on the sample, the side split,” admitted Wilson, who’d planned to wear it to the Golden Globes in January. “So Tom Ford made me a new one in my size.”
She wasn’t the only one whose determination almost came at the cost of the perfect fit. Nearby, Kate Winslet tinkered with the bodice on her Jasper Conran.
“Make sure no cameras are looking as I scoop my boobs up,” she whispered, ducking the flashbulbs. A bit less discreet, Sarah Jessica Parker tugged at her beaded bandeau on the red carpet and on the stage.
“It’s a bad habit,” she sighed. “But it’s Prada.”
Lara Flynn Boyle, foregoing all modesty in her paper-thin slipdress, summed up the evening’s spirit best.
“There’s no thermostat on glamour,” she said. “But God forbid I see another pashmina.”