Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 23:21 UK

Sex and the City: Fashion focus

Left-right: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kirstin Davis

By Penny Martin
Fashion writer

Grumbles of actresses 'playing it safe' with their outfits on Oscar night is the stuff of fashion cliche.

There were high hopes in fashion circles, therefore, for Monday's Sex and the City film premiere.

Fantastic clothes, after all, are its "sixth character". And with reports of tensions between the ever-glamorous co-stars over what they would wear to the film's opening night in London's Leicester Square, all eyes were on the arrival of the fabulous four.

Keeley Hawes
Keeley Hawes conveyed coy sweetness in a baby-doll day dress

To the chants of a near-hysterical crowd, Sarah Jessica Parker unveiled a show-stopping spring ensemble by British designer Alexander McQueen.

An exquisite, strapless, chartreuse tulle and feather prom dress, teamed with a witty Philip Treacy hat festooned with flowers and butterflies, looked fresh and pretty on the 43-year-old actress.

The delicately pleated tulle criss-crossed over the bodice to accentuate the star's exceedingly narrow waist; an effect she exaggerated as she twirled atop five-inch heels, to the press pack's delight.

Asked of her outfit's exact provenance, Parker played to the local crowd: "A Brit, I think you're familiar with him!"

Scarlet ladies

Supporting another British fashion revolutionary was English-born actress Kim Cattrall, resplendent in a scarlet, off-the-shoulder taffeta dress by Vivienne Westwood.

The cowl neck that is the designer's trademark tantalisingly exposed the actress's decollete.

The effect was one of classical beauty rather than the explicit sexuality of Cattrall's character, Samantha Jones.

Michelle Ryan
Michelle Ryan showed off her figure in her purple Herve Leger number

An asymmetrical, knee-length hemline and bustle detail added "directional" touches that prevented the 51-year-old from looking boring - or worse, stately.

Red is considered an "appropriate" colour for premiere dressing and was much in evidence at the Oscars in February.

Also dressed in scarlet, Kristin Davis fuelled rumours that not even the four co-stars were party to details of each other's outfits.

On stepping out her car, the actress visibly blanched at the sight of Cattrall's dress.

Davis opted for "vintage": a sleeveless, calf-length chiffon sheath.

Despite the gentle pleats defining its inner corsetry, Davis's choice was less structured than her fans have come to expect of her character Charlotte York.

Covered to the neck, it was demure, yes, but perhaps the least ravishing of the four.

Roisin Murphy
Singer Roisin Murphy supported young London talent

Miranda Hobbes struggled with her weight throughout the plotline and wore the least appealing clothes.

To make matters worse for poor Cynthia Nixon who played her, the show's stylist Patricia Field has been quoted as saying the actress was difficult to dress because of her innate lack of style.

Nixon's detractors will be staggered to note that hers was the most fashion-conscious statement of all: a daring, black maxi dress by Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein.

Two finely-pleated straps, cut to her waist, barely concealed Nixon's breasts, and the actress looked more like Charlotte Rampling in Night Porter than the uptight lawyer Nixon plays in the show.

'Naughty nurse'

Floor-grazing gowns were conspicuous by their absence, however, as a more informal "day dressing" spirit prevailed among the other guests (not a glove to be seen).

Recalling Sharon Stone's controversial decision to wear a Gap turtleneck to the 1996 Oscars, model and presenter Lisa Snowden teamed a graphic, black-and-white print skirt with a cap sleeved black T-shirt.

Flattering, certainly, but no more formal than you might wear to the office. Ashes to Ashes star Keeley Hawes conveyed coy sweetness rather than high glamour, in a dove grey baby-doll day dress with cutaway detail.

Meanwhile, surprise hit of the night Kelly Osborne scrubbed up beautifully, her hair as slick as her elegant black coatdress.

Alex Curran
Football wife Alex Curran was the first to arrive

The style honours should go to singer Roisin Murphy and ex EastEnders actress Michelle Ryan, both of whom opted for conspicuous fashion.

In perhaps the most striking look of the night, Murphy also supported British design, sporting an elegant black silk dress with orange and purple sashes by the London-based Russian designer Roksanda Ilincic.

The purple "multi-step" hat was perhaps an accessory too far, but full marks for trying.

Similarly, Ryan may have looked slightly self conscious in her skin-tight, purple Herve Leger number, but it showed off her figure to full advantage.

Of course, sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, a bad thing. Leave it to Alex Curran's naughty nurse get-up to prove the old fashion adage: legs or cleavage, never both.

Stars at Sex and the City launch
12 May 08 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Sex and the City
12 May 08 |  In Pictures
Parker keeps Sex plot under wraps
09 May 08 |  Entertainment
Is it just the shoes?
12 May 08 |  Magazine

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