PREP SCHOOL

“Movie stars, you cheap bastards! Pay for your clothes! Free clothes are for the poor — not actors.”
So said host John Waters at the IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday. The director happened to be wearing Comme des Garcons, straight down to his polkadot socks and red shoes.
“But I paid for them,” he swore backstage.
Los Angeles now refers to the chaotic pre-Awards countdown as Oscar Fashion Week. “Campaign Hollywood,” Vanity Fair’s Monday night soiree at Les Deux Cafes, was co-sponsored by Guess and attracted a gaggle of teenage startlets, from Kirsten Dunst to the ubiquitous West Coast party fixture Paris Hilton (with Nikki in tow), who came to hear Cameron Douglas — errant son of Michael — man the turntables.
The next night, at the amFAR/Bulgari party at Indochine, Marcia Gay Harden, Sherry Lansing and Michael Eisner turned up to toast the new gold-and-enamel AIDS awareness ribbon manufactured by the Italian jewelry house.
On Wednesday, WWD, along with Tamara Mellon of Jimmy Choo and A Diamond Is Forever, hosted the week’s first unabashed fashion fete at the new Korean restaurant Temple, where the theme was “Black, White and Diamonds.”
The designer presence was heavy: Richard Tyler, Mark Badgley, Roberto Cavalli, Victor Alfaro, Randolph Duke, Tara Subkoff and Matt Damhave of Imitation of Christ, Henry Duarte, Tarina Tarantino, Magda Berliner, Valentino’s Carlos Souza and Thierry Mugler’s Renato Cavero.
“This is last week’s Dior,” said China Chow of the dress John Galliano had just sent her. Elizabeth Hurley seemed rather world-weary, even if her black lace Valentino was not.
“I prefer L.A. when it’s not Oscar time,” she said. “I like working when I’m here.”
But it was the men who went overboard with the diamond theme — like James Purcell, who wore a sparkling choker and cuff, and David Arquette, who came in a black vintage cowboy shirt decorated with a rhinestone horse.
“I can’t stand near him,” lamented Courteney Cox. “He’ll snag my sweater.”
The couple spent the evening under Rosanna Arquette’s makeshift deejay booth. After one aggressively musical guest got too close, she shouted, “Beat it!” — then declared, “That’s why they call me Deejay PMS.”
Saturday’s laid-back Independent Spirit Awards, held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, didn’t deter the stars from donning their fanciest frocks.
Hilary Swank arrived on a bicycle but still managed to wear a flouncy white Marc Jacobs dress and heels. Olatz Schnabel came in a chiffon Dior gown, and Chloe Sevigny was draped in Chanel couture.
“I wanted to look Old Hollywood,” said Sevigny, whipping off her black suede heels, also Chanel. “Just look at the stitching.”
Marcia Gay Harden, who dropped by more parties than any other nominee, had morphed into something of a designer clotheshanger — and was delighted to play dress-up. “I’m my favorite Barbie right now,” she said.
Later that day, Miramax hosted its pre-Oscar party at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. The turnout was big — Joaquin Phoenix, Juliette Binoche, Kevin Spacey, Geoffrey Rush, Tobey Maguire, Lena Olin, Lasse Hallstrom — because everyone was curious to see the chocolate-themed skits planned for the night. (“Chocolat” was Miramax’s great hope this year.)
Barbra Streisand arrived in a Mongolian fur hat; Cameron Diaz snuggled up to her boyfriend, Jared Leto, and Julia Roberts looked starry-eyed with Benjamin Bratt. Roberts, fresh from fittings, had fashion on her mind. (“Is that Tuleh?” she asked one guest about her skirt. “Or Trina Turk?”)
But the night’s most impressive entrance was Kate Hudson’s — in a white silk Yves Saint Laurent ruched off-the-shoulder gypsy blouse and skirt (shown on the fall 2001 runway in black), which wasn’t so easy to negotiate.
“I’m tripping in it,” giggled Hudson, “but it’s worth it.” Asked if Tom Ford had made it for her, she spat a hasty “No” — until husband Chris Robinson nudged her and she blurted out, “Yes!”
While fashion was foremost on actors’ minds, Cindy Crawford had the luxury of resting on her laurels.
“After a few of these, you’re ready to put your sweatpants on and eat popcorn in bed,” she said. “That’s probably what I’ll be doing Oscar night.”