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Benjamin Epstein / Style

Blackwell Dubs Princess Worst-Dressed

January 24, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

Mr. Blackwell, who revealed his infamous 10 worst-dressed list on Tuesday in Atlantic City, has named Princess Stephanie of Monaco the worst-dressed woman of 1985.

The designer, who appears at 8 tonight at the Forum Theater in Yorba Linda and Saturday at the Wilshire Auditorium in Fullerton, made the announcement at Trump's Castle Hotel & Casino, noting, according to an Associated Press story, that Princess Stephanie's "unisex wardrobe entitles her to use either bathroom."

Next on Blackwell's 26th annual list were actress Joan Collins ("Dynasty") and rock star-actress Madonna, whom he called "Skid Row's nomination for a poverty party centerpiece contest."

It was the first time the list was revealed at a location other than Blackwell's Los Angeles mansion. In two other departures from tradition, Blackwell named actress Lauren Hutton "Fabulous Woman of the Year," and gave Liberace a "Halley's Comet" award.

In a phone interview back home, Blackwell, whose first name is Richard, likened Hutton to "a cross between the best of Garbo and the eternal Marlene Dietrich."

Of his nod to Liberace, he said, "I only give this award once every 75 years. I won't be here to do it again. I gave it to the person with the most flamboyance, drama and flair, for his out-of-this-world, brilliant array of flashy, glitzy glamour.

"Of course, I'm not saying he's well-dressed."

On his 10 best- dressed list, Blackwell named first lady Nancy Reagan; Raisa Gorbachev, wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; Princess Caroline of Monaco, sister of Princess Stephanie; Diana, princess of Wales, and actresses Jaclyn Smith, Meryl Streep, Mary Tyler Moore, Priscilla Presley, Jane Wyman and Jane Seymour.

"I've always done a best-dressed and a worst-dressed list," reminded Blackwell. "Would you believe that only one out of a hundred newspapers will print the best-dressed list? Everyone will print the worst. The worst is wonderful, of course, but I don't know what it says for society when we find the negative so amusing and forget the positive entirely. Maybe it says we'd better take inventory about our lives."

He talked about some of the women who, "in spite of fashion," manage to look wonderful:

- Nancy Reagan: "There was a time when if you were over 21 1/2, you were down the tubes. Nancy confirms the fact that being a few days older can still be elegant."

- Raisa Gorbachev: "Understated, elegant, fine and refined. Finally that nation has a lady, not a bag of potatoes."

- Princess Caroline: "A consummate woman, even in her youth. She's taken up the challenge of responsibility magnificently, indeed a princess."

"On the other hand," he continued, "her sister Stephanie heads up the worst. Too bad they don't talk to each other. I'm not against pants, but when any girl only wants to dress like a boy. . . . Of course, I must admit Stephanie's the best looking boy I ever saw, absolutely divine. . . ."

Also named to the worst-dressed list, after Stephanie, Collins and Madonna, were rock singer Tina Turner and actresses Michele Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Cybill Shepherd, Lisa Hartman, Apollonia and Heather Thomas.

Blackwell was happy to comment on his worst-dressed winners:

- Joan Collins: "A woman with this kind of beauty doesn't need pickup bras that make her look as if she's wearing coconuts."

- Madonna: "Betsy Johnson once did a line of knickers and other uglies which she photographed with garbage pails in an alley. You might say Madonna's a Betsy Johnson reject, a poverty-stricken refugee from the next town."

- Tina Turner: Some women dress for men, some dress for women, some dress for laughs. I don't know if she's trying to be a Flash Gordon or what . . . but bully for Tina. She's a great singer."

He noted that one designer helped put at least two of the women on his worst-dressed list; had he known all the designers, he said, he would have done a 10-worst designers list.

(He declined to name the Los Angeles designer, but it's obvious he was referring to Melrose Avenue-based Ellene Warren, who designs clothes for Apollonia and Lisa Hartman, and whose decidely risque creations have recently surfaced on some of Orange County's most socially prominent women.)

"If she continues to distort women," Blackwell said, "she'll be putting her career on the line. When a woman puts her client, in this case Apollonia, in the ugliest dress I have ever seen, in the history of my entire professional life, for the Academy Awards. . . . She's happening at the moment, but this kind of happening has a way of exploding. This image is unappealing and embarrassing to me, both as a designer and as a man."

Blackwell described his local appearances this weekend as one-man "show shows, not fashion shows." Fashion does, however, provide the backdrop for "An Evening With Mr. Blackwell," which will feature singing, dancing and fashion critiquing for audience volunteers. ("I've learned to devastate them in two minutes instead of three," he said.)

Those who attend will see a new, improved Mr. Blackwell.

"My new face is divine," Blackwell humbly admitted. "Other people have face lifts, nip-and-tucks. I used to look like a basset hound that'd had a bad night. This was total restoration--$9,982 worth. I could have made a three-yard dress with what they took out."

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