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Although Lizzy Gardiner won an Oscar last week for the outfits she designed for the film "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," her best costume may be the one she wore to accept the award.

Miss Gardiner, who was honored with Tim Chappel for the wild and sparkling numbers they created for the movie about Australian drag queens, came to the ceremony decked out in a spaghetti-strap dress constructed entirely from American Express gold cards."I was looking for an American symbol," said Miss Gardiner in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where she recently migrated from Australia.

"A Coca-Cola bottle or a Mickey Mouse would have been ridiculous, doing anything with the American flag would have been insulting and Cadillac hubcaps were just too uncomfortable."

An added bonus: the cards matched her Oscar.

The inspiration for the dress actually came to her when she was designing costumes for the film, but American Express would not agree to give her the cards she needed, she said, adding, "It was a small Australian film, and they really did not want to be involved, and I didn't really blame them."

Two weeks before the awards ceremony, when she realized that she needed something to wear, she appealed again to the company, which just happened to be an advertiser for the event, and they agreed to send her 300 cards. She and Salvadore Perez, a Los Angeles designer, whipped the whole thing together in about 12 hours.

"It was her idea and we made it happen," said Maureen Bailey, a spokeswoman for American Express. "We feel so happy that every time she uses American Express now, she'll remember this great moment."

On television, the host David Letterman quipped that Miss Gardiner's outfit had expired during a commercial break.

In fact, she was not able to splice up her dress and make a run for Rodeo Drive: her cards were not validated.