Conference Paper

Who Cares About the Best Dressed?: Mr. Blackwell’s Infamous List and the Art of Self-Branding


Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén

Popular Culture Association National Conference PCA/ACA


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.”

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  • Type:
    Conference Paper (other academic)
  • Conference:
    Popular Culture Association National Conference Pca/Aca
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About the Author

Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén

Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Media Studies. She holds a Doctoral degree in Fashion Studies and a Master of Arts in Cinema Studies from Stockholm University, and a Licentiate degree in Public Relations fr... Read more


Castaldo Lundén, E. (2014). Who Cares About the Best Dressed?: Mr. Blackwell’s Infamous List and the Art of Self-Branding. In: Popular Culture Association National Conference PCA/ACA. Available at: [Accessed 30 Nov. 2022].