LOS ANGELES – Mr. Blackwell, the acerbic designer whose annual worst-dressed list skewered the fashion felonies of celebrities from Zsa Zsa Gabor to Britney Spears, has died. He was 86.
Blackwell died Sunday of complications from an intestinal infection, publicist Harlan Boll said.
Blackwell, whose first name was Richard, was a little-known dress designer when he issued his first tongue-in-cheek criticism of Hollywood fashion disasters for 1960 — long before Joan Rivers and others turned such ridicule into a daily affair.
Year after year, he would take Hollywood's reigning stars and other celebrities to task for failing to dress in what he thought was the way they should.
Being dowdy was bad enough, but the more outrageous clothing a woman wore, the more biting his criticism. He once said a reigning Miss America looked "like an armadillo with cornpads."
A few other examples:
Madonna: "The Bare-Bottomed Bore of Babylon."
Barbra Streisand: "She looks like a masculine Bride of Frankenstein."
Christina Aguilera: "A dazzling singer who puts good taste through the wardrobe wringer."
Meryl Streep: "She looks like a gypsy abandoned by a caravan."
Sharon Stone: "An over-the-hill Cruella DeVille."
Lindsay Lohan: "From adorable to deplorable."
Patti Davis: "Packs all the glamour of an old, worn-out sneaker."
Ann Margret: "A Hells Angel escapee who invaded the Ziegfeld Follies on a rainy night."
Camilla Parker-Bowles: "The Duchess of Dowdy."
Bjork: "She dances in the dark — and dresses there, too."
Spears: "Her bra-topped collection of Madonna rejects are pure fashion overkill."
The critic acknowledged he had mixed feelings about appearing so publicly mean. Most of the women he put through the wringer, he said, were people he genuinely admired for their talent if not their fashion sense.
"The list is and was a satirical look at the fashion flops of the year," he said 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."