Thu, Nov 02, 2006 - Page 13 News List

He's hot. He can sing. But can he design?

Justin Timberlake wants to expand his claim on sexiness into the realm of fashion with a runway show he and collaborator Trace Ayala have named 'Street Sexy'

By Eric Wilson  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , LOS ANGELES

"He got it right away," Zee said. "He's far more advanced than Madonna was at his age. You can only imagine where he'll be when he gets to 45."

Timberlake's music, his performances and his style could be described as deliberately unconstructed, as though he had practiced in front of a mirror a few times before trying it out in public.

His approach to creating a fashion brand comes across as intently studied, surreally so when Timberlake, with a glass of sauvignon blanc in his hand, speaks of his desire to build a total lifestyle collection, using fashion-industry jargon as if to demonstrate his seriousness.

"In my opinion, there are lot of denim brands out there that miss the point of jeans," he said. "Jeans are a canvas. I see a lot of jeans that if I was to wear them, I would have to work my outfit around them."

Tuesday night, an hour before the show, Cameron Diaz, Timberlake's girlfriend, was sitting on the runway, talking to friends in the front row, and tugging the back of her sparkly shirt down over her William Rast jeans, so as not to expose herself to guests on the other side of the runway like Patrick Dempsey, Dr. McDreamy of Grey's Anatomy. Also in the house were Eve, Wilmer Valderrama, Michelle Trachtenberg, Paris and Nicky Hilton and Timberlake's former boy-band colleagues Lance Bass and JC Chasez. They made their entrances on a carpet of black Astroturf.

What's sexy to you?

"Him," Bass said, pointing to his boyfriend, Reichen Lehmkuhl. "I think confidence is sexy."

Lehmkuhl added, "Sexy is when someone knows how to be confident and how to tell someone else they look good."

Mmm. The show included women in short denim skirts and men in ultraskinny jeans with cuffs that rolled back to midcalf, good for a celebrity runway show but not much different from what one would encounter at a Diesel fashion show or one of Dsquared. It was amazing, really, that they were having an elaborate event for a collection of just 20-some pairs of jeans and T-shirts, styled as the competing gangs from The Outsiders.

The greasers wore their hair styled into mullets, with western gingham shirts and rockabilly gold bow ties on white blouses; the preppy socs wore similar pieces, tidied up with a pale yellow cropped cardigan, for example, and Tretorn sneakers. A few short prairie dresses, and a retro plaid sports jacket over slim khaki pants for men, represented the expansion of William Rast; the fireworks were saved for the dancers.

The B-boys somersaulted over one another, their sneakers at moments within centimeters of celebrity airspace, and a group of lascivious-looking women bumped and ground their way along the stage, one reaching over into the lap of Bass, writhing to a Prince song with a name not suitable for publication (which doesn't really narrow it down).

"What really makes clothing sexy is what you do with it," the voice of Timberlake said as he took his bow with Ayala.

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