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Fashion victim: Catherine Zeta Jones
(Filed: 28/11/2005)

Tiffany Hancock on Catherine Zeta Jones's old-fashioned sense of film star glamour

The thing about Catherine Zeta Jones is that she can get it so right. Her recent sashay down the red carpet in a gold Dolce & Gabbana gown at the Los Angeles premiere of The Legend of Zorro was faultless.

Catherine Zeta Jones
On her way to the top: Zeta Jones at the premiere of The Mask of Zorro

The downside is that she can also get it so wrong. To be fair, she has come a long way from those dodgy perms of the early 1990s when she played Mariette in The Darling Buds of May.

Back then, she made a series of fashion faux pas and stepped out with the likes of Mick Hucknall and John Leslie. Her taste in men and outfits was equally baffling.

By the end of the decade, though, she was on her way to the top. In 1998, she achieved stardom as Elena in The Mask of Zorro and, two years later, after marrying Michael Douglas, she was able to sniffily remark, during a courtroom battle with Hello!, that "£1 million is not very much money for us".

Today, her choice in clothes is similar to her choice of husband: classic, but just a little too old for her years. She is often lauded for her old-fashioned sense of film star glamour - glittering gowns, lavish jewellery, strappy high heels - but occasionally she goes overboard. Her foundation can be caked, her mascara too thick, her cheeks too rouged.

The irony is that Zeta Jones is naturally beautiful. It is only when she overemphasises her assets that she dips into disaster. Her features don't need much definition: her lips are naturally thick and red, her eyes are already perfectly framed by luscious lashes.

Her fabulous hour-glass figure is often used to good effect, but, when she flaunts an overample cleavage, as she did when she collected an Oscar for her role as Velma in Chicago, she goes from starlet to Swansea in an instant.

Unlike her other co-stars, Zeta Jones rarely experiments with her look. Her make-up is always strong, her hair loose and flowing, as it should be, and her cut of ballgown is invariably fitted and floor-length. She sticks to what she likes and ignores her critics. How else could she have married Michael Douglas?

Perhaps that is because she has better things to do than pore over fashion magazines all day. With five houses scattered around the world, two young children (Dylan, five, and Carys, two) and any number of box-office hits to star in, it is not surprising that her finger drifts off the fashion pulse every now and again.

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