Hatcher went for all-out glamour in a navy blue empire waist gown with a long train by J. Mendel. It had a crystal band under the bustline that she complemented with a substantial diamond link necklace and diamond earrings.
Cross' green strapless gown by Elie Saab had a ruched bodice with elaborate beading, and her dangling earrings dripped diamonds and green baubles under her free-flowing long red hair.
Sheridan, in a Giorgio Armani strapless dusty-rose satin gown with a fitted bodice, cascading tiered skirt and train appeared more sophisticated and demure than her on-screen counterpart. "It's soft and elegant," she said.
Eva Longoria was hardly a shrinking violet, though, in her coral gown with a jeweled neck and revealing keyhole opening.
Felicity Huffman's rouge satin bias-cut gown had a gentle cowl neck, crystals on the thick straps and the waist insets -- and an old Hollywood look.
Kathy Griffin, who will be co-host of E!'s Emmy fashion review show, cracked jokes about outfits all night but even she couldn't find anything to criticize about the stars of "Desperate Housewives." "They all look gorgeous," she gushed.
Other stars who went strapless: Jennifer Garner showed off her pregnant shape in a black gown by Badgley Mischka with a jewel right at the bust; Patricia Heaton chose a black strapless gown, featuring three tiers of pleating and delicate knotted bows by Monique Lhuillier; Halle Berry was in a simple draped purple gown, hoop earrings and a sleek ponytail. Melania Trump's gown was light blue.
Glenn Close wore a sweetheart-neck black gown by Giorgio Armani and looked tanner and blonder than usual.
Close said after so many years in Hollywood she still feels pressure to get all dressed up for the red carpet -- "especially when we've been in our jammies and flip-flops all year."
Charlize Theron's black Chanel embroidered dress had a bit of a flapper touch.
Lauren Graham of "Gilmore Girls" based her gown choice on color. Then comes style and her last concern is comfort. "It's a day to be uncomfortable. ... You want to feel like you're wearing something special, and I do," Graham told E!'s Star Jones Reynolds.
Graham ended up in a red silk chiffon slip gown with cascading ruffles down the back. It was straight from the runway from Pamella Roland's spring fashion show at New York Fashion Week.
Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" chose an orange gown by Carolina Herrera.
Wearing a bronze gown by Elie Saab with a subtle magenta floral print on the sweeping skirt and beads on the illusion fabric around her neck, Debra Messing told The Associated Press that the event called for a special dress. "This is our last season, and I wanted to feel like a queen."
Jennifer Love Hewitt topped off her retro look -- a black strapless ruffled Dolce & Gabbana cocktail dress with Harry Winston star-shaped earrings -- with a beehive hairdo.
Kim Raver wore a V-neck halter gown with an empire waist in mauve chiffon by bridal designer and red carpet newcomer Junko Yoshioka, and Maggie Grace wore a velvet bustier gown in pewter with a gold floral brocade print from Catherine Malandrino's couture collection. Marg Helgenberger had one of the most feminine gowns, an amethyst Chantilly lace halter gown by Lhuillier.
In addition to the deep jewel tones on the red carpet, there were several stars in light colors, including Kyra Sedgwick, who wore a nude-colored tulle empire waist strapless dress and funky bohemian earrings, and Patricia Arquette, whose fitted cream-colored Badgley Mischka gown showed off a lot of cleavage. Her hair was done up in curls. "I thought I'd throw down a bit of the east L.A. thing," Arquette said. She accessorized with 30 carats of pear-shaped Chopard diamonds on her ears.
Mischa Barton wore a delicate nude-colored slip gown covered in beads, and Paula Abdul was in a plunging V-neck dress in light yellow.
New mom Heidi Klum looked like the supermodel she is in a floral empire-waist gown by Christian Dior.
But not all the fashion was fluff and frills. Hank Azaria said of the Red Cross pin he wore to draw attention to the plight of Hurricane Katrina victims: "It's not fashion, it's passion."