Mr. Blackwell, 86, Fashion Critic to the Worst Dressed
Mr. Blackwell, the Los Angeles fashion critic and designer known for his annual list of the worst dressed celebrities, died Sunday at age 86 from an intestinal infection. In early August, Blackwell was reportedly unconscious in an undisclosed Los Angeles-area hospital.
"I was sick of the ugly clothes that were being presented in the fashion industry and as dress designer I wanted to express my opinion," Blackwell, whose first name is Richard, told LAist in an interview this year. "I never expected it to be this big," he said of the annual list he started in 1961 based on an article that ran the year before. "The 1960 article ran in American Weekly Magazine in the LA Examiner. The 1961 was nationally syndicated based on the demand." From there, it was history.
In his 2007 list, released in January of this year, he said of singer Amy Winehouse: "Exploding beehives above…tacky polka-dots below…she's part 50's car-hop horror." In a previous year, of Barbra Streisand, who often made the list: "She looks like a masculine Bride of Frankenstein." And a great line for Bjork: "She dances in the dark — and dresses there, too."
"The list is and was a satirical look at the fashion flops of the year," he said to the AP in 1998. "I merely said out loud what others were whispering. ... It's not my intention to hurt the feelings of these people. It's to put down the clothing they're wearing." In fact, he told LAist that "very few women who appeared on the list were ever really upset. Many of them were thrilled. I think I got more thank you notes from those on the worst dressed list than the best."
Blackwell image courtesy Blackwell / Florence