Archive for “Eccentric Glamour” by Simon Doonan

Mr. Blackwell On Hell’s “Worst dressed ” List

Posted in Goof & Glamour, SPOOKY KABUKI with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2008 by alphabetfiend

Ding dong the bitch is dead! The wicked bitch is dead!

The notorious meanie Mr. Blackwell died on October 19 after a long illustrious career as a cruel-eye. I don’t actually think the man is in hell or even deserves to be. He’s not black-hearted or evil. But he was a wicked bitch whose doorway to fame was a the tight sphincter of his own asshole. After failing at acting and fashion design, he made a name for himself with his mean-spirited “Worst Dressed” list.

I wonder what he was wearing when he died. Whatever it was, I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

I’m not one to disrespect the dead but SPOOKY KABUKI will do it in a heart beat. Or Lack there-of.

SPOOKY KABUKI has never forgiven Mr. Blackwell for wagging his judgemental finger at Bjork’s bewitchingly bizarre swan dress.

Halloween isn't the only day that Bjork comes out to play.

I blame Mr. Blackwell and his hater ilk for taking all the damn fun out of fashion. It doesn’t bother me a bit cause I don’t give a toad’s shit but not everyone has the thick skin for ridicule that I do or the self-indulgent whimsy. Blackwell didn’t appreciate the playful pageantry of fashion. His restrictive and staid style “rules” created, for many, a fear of fashion. Blackwell was the Jim Jones guru in the Cult of Negativity. He appointed himself the official “fashion watchdog.” Time reported on Mr. Blackwell’s passing.

The designer and mordant fashion critic who dared to call Madonna the “bare-bottomed bore from Babylon” died Oct. 19 in Los Angeles. Richard Blackwell, a.k.a. Mr. Blackwell, of the infamous worst-dressed list, made a name for himself not with his own creations but by skewering those sported by celebs on the red carpet. His favorite targets, however, were celebrities like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Britney Spears, who he felt lacked any innate sense of style or glamour. He said his criticism had nothing to do with talent and once remarked that Meryl Streep looked like a “gypsy abandoned by a caravan.” Born Richard Sylvan Selzer in Brooklyn, N.Y., Blackwell started out as an actor but switched to fashion in 1958 when his career stalled. Fame came with the publication of his first list in 1960. While his original intention was to act as a sort of fashion watchdog, Blackwell and his list became a dreaded Hollywood institution that paved the way for other red-carpet critics.

Blackwell broke the skin with a biting wit. I even chuckled from time to time. Can you match these Blackwell zingers with the “tasteless” stars. (Lindsay Lohan, Patti Davis, Ann Margaret, Barbara Streisand, Bjork, Christina Aguilera, Sharon Stone, Camilla Parker-Bowles.)

  1.  “A Hells Angel escapee who invaded the Ziegfeld Follies on a rainy night.”
  2. “An over-the-hill Cruella DeVille.”
  3. “Packs all the glamour of an old, worn-out sneaker.”
  4. “She looks like a masculine Bride of Frankenstein.”
  5.  “The Duchess of Dowdy.”
  6. “A dazzling singer who puts good taste through the wardrobe wringer.”
  7.  “From adorable to deplorable.”
  8. “She dances in the dark? She dresses in the dark!”

We have Mr. Blackwell’s Legacy of Enforced Taste to thank for the total yawn of today’s Red Carpets — gone are the days of Cher with her bum-exposing gowns! Which may be for the best. But at least Cher was doing her own very CHER thing and partying like a rock-star via her style choices. Sure, Britney’s never brought much to the table fashion-wise but Ann Margaret is a style icon and a seriously sexy bitch. Meow. Patti Davis in her french pirates tee? Is there anything more dreamy? Oh wait, that was Patti Smith. No matter. I’m sure Blackwell thought Smith was a ragamuffin. Best/worst lists make bebes afraid to develop their own looks. They forsake their own fantasies in favor of the homogenized safe look of the “best dressed.” They never develop the confidence to flaunt their fantasy self. What is fashion if not a fantasy? 

I can’t count the times I’ve had women and men swoon over one of my REDONKULOUS ensembles. After a poetry reading a man breathlessly confessed “I find women in turbans to be terminally erotic” and then avoided me for years because I was the source of his dreams & his humiliation. Women will exclaim “Oh I wish I could wear tulle/hats/wigs/capes/tiaras!”

Who says you can’t?

Who says we have to wait until Halloween to dress up in outrageous fineries, circus-punk costumery or disco glam get-ups?

Oh right.

Him and his.   

Now that Mr. Blackwell’s gone, Simon Doonan — famed window designer & author of “Eccentric Glamour” — should rise up and take his rightful place as fashion’s talking head. So break out your pink leopard stockings and your gold lame boleros. Summon the spirit of Isabella Blow or even your inner-Cher.

Is that a chain mail lobster Issie's wearing?

Issie, is that a chain mail lobster? WOW!

 Answers to the zinger-star match-up: Lindsay Lohan*7, Patti Davis*3, Ann Margaret*1, Barbara Streisand*4, Bjork*8, Christina Aguilera*6, Sharon Stone*2, Camilla Parker-Bowles*5.

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