Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mr. Blackwell: A History

Jan. 5, 1968

Richard Blackwell, known as Mr. Blackwell was a fashion critic, designer, journalist and tv/radio personality.  He was most widely known for his "10 Best/Worst Dressed List" long before the E! Fashion Police. In  1960's when he started his design career he was hired by American Weekly magazine for a one time article on the Best/Worst dressed a list he kept in publication for 47 years (Wiki). It was syndicated and covered in various print, television and radio outlets during that time. He was still called upon by television/radio programs 47 years later for his colorful fashion commentary.
Sadly his fashion design career was less popularly known, although he did dress Yvonne DeCarlo, Jayne Mansfield, Dorothy Lamour, Jane Russell and Nancy Reagan. He started designing in 1958 and the "House of Blackwell" lasted only until the early 80's when fashion made a shift into a more common and casual way of dressing. 
The Designer with Jayne Mansfield

Fashion FYI

*  First in history to present his line on a television broadcast.

*  First to make his line available for plus-size women.

* His Designer Dresses sold at the time for $800 to $1,000

* He was born Richard Sylvan Selzer.
In his 1995 biography, From Rags to Bitches, he admitted his main goal was: 'To become my most unforgettable creation: king of the caustic quote, arbiter of good taste and bad, the ultimate mix of madness, marketing and media attention.'

Mr. Blackwell passed away October 19, 2008 at the age of 86.

Thankfully some of his gorgeous pieces remain available today.

The designer with Jayne Mansfield

This 1960's Black chiffon gown with Orange/Gold Embroidered Floral Bodice and Skirt Trim

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