Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mr. Blackwell Reviews Angels' Robes

Mr. Blackwell, best known for his “worst-dressed list,” succumbed to a massive sarcasm attack this Sunday. Self-described as “…razor-tongued as Noel Coward, volcanic as Vesuvius erupting, wickedly controversial as Paris in the ‘20s,” he knew nobody in the fashion world took his lists very seriously.

Except, perhaps, his targets:

He likened Elizabeth Taylor to a dirigible. Called Julia Roberts “Godfather III in drag.” Diana Ross was “a Martian meter maid,” Martha Stewart "dressed like a centerfold from the Farmer’s Almanac,” and Ann-Margret was “Marlon Brando in a G-string.”

Ah, how the art of fashion criticism has now left us.

He signed his checks “Richard Sylvan Selzer,” but was renamed “Richard Blackwell” by Howard Hughes when he was signed to a movie contract; he then changed his first name to “Mr.,” which it remained for the rest of his life.

He was, actually, a pretty nice guy, especially when it came to designing for women of poor dimensions. He had a good grasp of how to shape clothing for plus-size ladies and those of height to accent the feminine curves. A buyer from San Antonio said, “When he designs a dress, he keeps in mind how a woman wants to look across a table.” But his best-dressed list? Nobody ever read it.


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