Forget Jessica Rabbit. When movie stars turn up for the Oscars next month, they are more likely to look as if they have just popped outside in their nighties to pick up the milk than the varoom] baboom] sirens of old.

Just as the Golden Globe awards give some indication as to how the Oscars will go, so are the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awards - held in New York last week - a fair indicator of what the Academy Awards set will be wearing. Nighties and cosy cardigans seem likely.

Last week, in came Bianca Jagger, in a white nightie stylishly worn over a black one. In came Anna Wintour, the elegant editor of US Vogue, in a slither of a satin slip. Finally, in came little Kate Moss - who arrived with the awesome tardiness of a true star - wearing the teeniest camisole. Everyone who was anyone looked ready for bed, except Cindy Crawford, whose big ballgown seemed old-fashioned, and Sigourney Weaver, who also opted for a tried and tested glamour gown (but, to be honest, still looked fabulous).

Not only did a host of women turn up in what looked like their sleepwear, many of them turned up in virtually identical nighties. In the past, being caught by the paparazzi in the same dress as another woman was social death. Of course, the two women in question would always make merry of the 'coincidence' in public, before vilifying each other in private and vowing never again to patronise the two-timing designer.

How things have changed. Perhaps fashion has gone politically correct? Perhaps, along with a red Aids ribbon, wearing the same dress signals that to share is to care? Whatever the reason, it certainly was not a mistake that Bianca Jagger; Sally Kellerman ('Hot Lips' in the M*A*S*H film); the socialite heiress Veronica Hearst; US Vogue's Anna Wintour; the creative director of Allure magazine, Polly Mellen; CFDA executive and Manhattan bigwig, Fern Mallis; shopping channel star Diane von Furstenberg, plus Calvin Klein's wife, Kelly - all wore virtually identical frocks by Calvin Klein.

At the Oscars, there are likely to be plenty of women in their Calvins, which, compared to the baubled, bangled and bust-cupped evening dresses of yore are decidedly quiet. There will be several reasons for this.

One: the content of the movies nominated. Big issue movies like Schindler's List (the Holocaust), In the Name of the Father (the Guildford Four) and Philadelphia (Aids) somehow don't call for actresses to turn up looking like glamour pusses.

Two: the West Coast rise of Calvin Klein. Younger actresses are now reacting against the big teeth, big tits, big hair dress code of LA in favour of his spare and simple New York style.

Three: Calvin Klein's secret weapon, Noona Smith Petersen, who labours under the hefty title of Senior Vice-President of Calvin Klein Europe and who knows how to get the right women into the right clothes at the right moment. She trained in Milan with Armani and Valentino, the designers who, with Versace, have the best record of exposing their clothes on celebrities. Smith Petersen helped to trail-blaze the Italian tactic of courting Oscar nominees into designer labels with post- nomination day bouquets and sheaths of sketches dispatched to actresses wondering what on earth to wear. Holly Hunter and Winona Ryder - both hotly tipped for Oscars - are among those most likely to be wooed to wear Calvin.

The CFDA awards were an indication of how effectively Smith Petersen, and her American colleague Lynn Tesoro's, tactics work. Plenty of other designers were there and there were, presumably, plenty of women wearing other clothes. But they disappeared in a sea of slips by Calvin to whom the night belonged. Perhaps Oscar night will, too.

But nothing is confirmed until the nominees arrive at the ceremony. There is plenty more buttering up to be done. Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Rosie Perez and little Anna Paquin are among those currently being courted by the Americans, the Italians and the French House of Chanel. So is Oscar-winner and Oscar-nominee Emma Thompson, whose mermaid ensemble of last year was judged pedestrian and leaving 'room for improvement'. Thompson may wear London's Caroline Charles again. Or she may wear Armani, whose house, says one insider at a competing fashion house is 'practically oiling her body'.

Whether it will be oiled enough to slide into an oleaginous Calvin is another matter. But the signs are that plenty of other women's bodies will be.

(Photographs omitted)