Bye Bye, Mr. Blackwell
His signature Worst Dressed List was bitchy-funny, Don Rickles Meets Dior, as sharp-edged as a pair of pinking shears, and everyone loved it, except the people who appeared on it -- and even they may have believed that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
I have in my collection of defunct California couture labels a few that bear the bold black-on-white name Mr. Blackwell. Still, it wasn't as a designer that he made his mark, but as the dreaded thumbs-down fashion arbiter.
I met him just once, in downtown LA, as he was advising some 1980s Miss California as she was dressed, coached and styled for the Miss America pageant. I remember a few things: that his clothes seemed much too old for a fresh, pretty young woman, that I was relieved that she, not I, was the object of his scrutiny, and this moment, which I recount from memory:
Mr. Blackwell, sardonically surveying the legs of the young woman, encased as they were in pantyhose of the standard color usually described as ''suntan,'' declared:
''My dear, those hose -- they're just TOO Ann Sheridan."