Fashion critic Mr Blackwell dead at 86

Oct 20, 2008 at 2:46 p.m. ET

Sharp-tongued fashion critic Richard Selzer, famous for his annual list of Mr Blackwell's Worst Dressed, died late Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 86 years old.

Mr. Blackwell's fashion common sense will be missed

Selzer, who wrote the list under the pseudonym "Mr Blackwell", had been in failing health and was being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for complications from an intestinal infection.

His famous worst dressed list skewered celebs from Marilyn Monroe to Britney Spears, and everyone in between. Even Queen Elizabeth II was not immune to his critiques: "From her majesty to her travesty," he wrote of her dowdy wardrobe.

His colorful commentary was much anticipated each year. He once called actress Renee Zellweger a "painted pumpkin on a pogo stick", Mary-Kate Olsen a "tattered toothpick trapped in a hurricane," and called Amy Winehouse a "part 50's car-hop horror," and Barbra Streisand a "masculine Bride of Frankenstein."

Selzer was an elementary school dropout who first tried his luck at acting, then managing celebs - until it was noticed that the outfits he designed for his clients were often more highly recognized than their work. He launched his own label in the 1950's, but it was his acerbic commentary that finally brought him the fame he sought.

"The year the list came out everybody was mad as hell. They said, 'Who the hell does Blackwell think he is?' They made me a name," he once said, adding at his funeral, "Everyone will show up to see if I am really gone."

Selzer is survived by his longtime partner Robert Spencer.

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