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Mr. Blackwell's greatest hits

October 19, 2008 | 11:17 pm

He dropped his first name and changed his last. He became famous for making fun of the way celebrities dress. Mr. Blackwell became part of the Hollywood scene for his annual "worst dressed lists," which spanned from the Liz Taylor era to the Britney Spears era. He died this weekend. The Times' Mary Rourke looks back on some of Mr. Blackwell's choice digs:

Actresses Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor made his list in the early 1960s. Taylor’s “plump” figure and revealing clothes reminded him of “the rebirth of the zeppelin,” he wrote in 1963. Loren, he wrote, dressed like “the Italian shop girls she portrays in movies.” More recently, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, whom he called the “Screamgirls” and compared to “two peas in an overexposed pod,” made the list. So did Camilla Parker-Bowles, “The Duchess of Dowdy,” in Blackwell’s opinion. This year Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham topped his survey. It was his 48th annual list. Brigitte Bardot, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton and Madonna took the heat from Blackwell more than once. So did Queen Elizabeth. “From her majesty to her travesty,” he wrote of her. Blackwell gave his first annual assessment of celebrities and their tastes in 1960, placing Italian actress Anna Magnani, the star of “The Rose Tattoo” and “Wild Is the Wind,” at the top of his worst-dressed list. He credited her for being “one of the most distinguished actresses of our generation” but said she dressed in “tramp clothes.”

People magazine says he went out on a kind note with his last list. Kinda.

Next up is Amy Winehouse, whom he calls a “part 50’s car-hop horror,” and Mary-Kate Olsen, whom Blackwell says “resembles a tattered toothpick trapped in a hurricane.” Ouch! Also making the list: Fergie, Kelly Clarkson, Eva Green, Avril Lavigne, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan and Alison Arngrim. But the fashion critic does offer this salve to the style-challenged, explaining “Let it be said, however, that my criticisms are based purely on their fashion flaws — I’m sure they’re all wonderful people beneath the deluge of dreck they drape themselves in.”

-Shelby Grad

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