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Who Cares About the Best Dressed?: Mr. Blackwell’s Infamous List and the Art of Self-Branding
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies, Fashion Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1286-073X
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Before Joan Rivers’s Fashion Police (E! Entertainment, 2002- ), there was a man who made a reputation in Hollywood for his outspoken criticism of celebrity style. Provocative, overopinionated, controversial, admired, hated and feared; self proclaimed fashion’s advocate Richard Blackwell achieved worldwide recognition after launching his annual 10 Worst Dresed List in 1960. His outrageous comments against celebrities catapulted him to stardom, and turned him into a popular culture icon. Yet, the articulation of his list was a clear act of Winchellism rather than a sincere call for style. But, how much did Blackwell know about fashion? How did he become an authority on how American women should dress and behave? Overlooked by the fashion industry, Mr. Blackwell achieved a status among popular audiences that his more knowledgable detractors could not outshine. This paper looks at historical reception of Mr. Blackwell as a victimizer, but also a victim of celebrity culture. A master of performance and self branding rather than a fashion conoceur. A man seeking fame and recognition, who cleverly found a nische in the enterteinment industry through his controversial statements about stars, style and fashion, propelling a skyrocketing career in Hollywood he so longed for, and becoming a symbol for “all publicity is good publicity.”

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
worst-dressed lists, fashion critics, fashion expertise, mr. Blackwell, celebrity
National Category
History Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-130380OAI: diva2:929811
Popular Culture Association National Conference PCA/ACA, Chicago, April 16th-19th, 2014
Available from: 2016-05-20 Created: 2016-05-20 Last updated: 2016-06-10Bibliographically approved

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Castaldo Lundén, Elizabeth
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