Monday, October 27, 2008


"...resembles a tattered toothpick trapped in a hurricane." - Richard Blackwell

(His comment regarding Mary-Kate Olsen on one of his notorius worst dressed lists)

Richard Blackwell died recently -- October 19, 2008. But for over 40 years this fashion critic, journalist, and artist; who worked successfully as a former child star and former costume and fashion designer, hosted his infamous "Ten Worst Dressed Women List." He was also known for publishing the "Fabulous Fashion Independents" list and an annual Academy Awards fashion review. Two books he wrote, 30 Years of Fashion Fiascos and his autobiography, Rags to Bitches, were also published.

His designs were very sucessful, and most assuredly presented him with the credentials he felt necessary to produce such lists. Over the years "...Worst Dressed" became a very sought after list NOT to be found on. But a lot of people didn't care about their placement there; many just read his lists for entertainment. Can you imagine these famous women changing their wardrobe because of Blackwell's assessment: Cher - "A million beads/And one overexposed derriere"; Queen Elizabeth, "Was she the palace ChristmaS tree, or just a royal clown?" and Martha Stewart - "Dresses like the centerfold for Farmers' Almanac ." In fact, some people such as Mariah Carey and Dolly Parton actually considered it an honor to be placed on his list. By being mentioned, their outrageous dressing accomplished their goal!

So why would we even care about Mr. Blackwell's lists? After all, once the initial shockingly entertaining ones came out, many began to consider them to be noticeably rude, only fixating on the most popular celebrities, and geared to gaining and continuing their own popularity.

Well, the answer is really very simple. Whether we like them or not, Blackwell's lists not only include rather sharp-tongued remarks; they also contain some very factual comments. And, such comments could conceivably cause a maven to change her ways IF she gave them any credibility. And that is what I'm getting at - how we perceive the credibility of a critique is the key to the importance of any critique.

In our group we don't need or respond well to sarcastic, scathing comments from those who judge us. Instead, we look for remarks that really evaluate our work and give us some valid, constructive criticism. We need to know when something is deemed unique or outstanding just as we need to know what our failings are. "Pretty dress" comments are best left to our audience - we do appreciate and need those also, but not from our judges!!

So aren't we incredibly lucky that we have a most talented group who have stepped forward to fill the complex job of judging this project? They are:

Mia Tyler, is not just the daughter of mega-famous rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and half-sister of actress Liv Tyler. Actually, she made her own place in the fashion world at the tender age of 17. Mia began appearing, on MTV's “House of Style,” a program featuring rock and fashion, and from there landed a modeling job, posing for clothing line/retailer Lane Bryant. Mia is a plus size model who believes "Beauty comes in all different packages. If you're a size 12, then you're not any less beautiful than a size 4." She continues to represent plus size beauties by gracing the pages of such well-known magazines as Seventeen, Vogue, USA Today, and Flare; has numerous movie credits, and recently published her own book titled Creating Myself.

Maren began her journey into fashion early, also. She was only ten when she began working as the stage manager for three fashion shows managing the accessories, garments, and hair for 104 models. Her passion for fashion continued to be useful in high school where she created fundraising fashion shows and worked as a DJ to create music CDs for each show. In college she produced, directed and created the music for a fund raising fashion show that raised more money in one night than any other event. Today she works for T-Mobile as a manager, free lance make-up artist, and clothing designer. She is also a new bride, and the daughter of our fashion guru, Gabby.

Connie - Doll Fashions by Sweet Creations has a passion for sewing, and a great inventory of fabrics and trims to execute it. She makes wonderful doll clothes for Silkstone through Cissy, and other sized fashion dolls in between. She is even open to doing commissions that can bring your ideas to life. Perfection and pleasing her customers is her main goal. Connie's webpage can be found at and she also has her work available through Dollpage, eBay and Etsy.

Jamesson Beane is definitely not just another pretty face. After attaining his BA, he chose to branch out into promotional modeling -- representing independent jewelry and clothing lines, and even was a featured model in photographer Lindsay Lozon's coffee-table book entitled All My Boys. He also has seen his written works published in various publications such as Imagozine, Fantasticsmag and What's Happening Magazine. As an actor, he recently appeared in the independent film "Fair Play" and several theater projects with the Orlando Fringe Theatre Festival. His current projects include a lead role in the forthcoming indie, The Beauty of the Shadow.

LoraG. of Silly Dog Designs is the oldest of seven siblings who necessitated the need for her to learn to sew at an early age; she’s been sewing at a machine since her feet could reach the pedals. She had little formal training, but was inspired by her Mother’s strict discipline for perfectionism, and her desire to dress Barbie. Today she enjoys sewing for a variety of dolls. She has worked for The Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection, an independent pattern producer of mostly Asian influenced women's patterns, and has had her designs published in "The Cutting Edge," a quarterly craft magazine. Today she is content to be a housewife and domestic servant to her four Yorkies who inspired her design name. Her recent work includes contributing outfits and t-shirts for charity auctions such as Dolly Hearts for Asia and the USA, and a collaboration with Jim Dandy for the Metro Dolls convention.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our wonderful judges. I also hope you will enjoy this week's interviews of our artists - Agarva Moeller, Gary Fletcher, and Kevin Kilmer. And, our link of the week is a wonderful online magazine I just discovered. I recently enjoyed such wonderful pleasantries as a Vera Wang video and photos from the Spring fashon shows - bet you will find some fun on this site too!! Click on the link, then scroll down if you see a black screen.

Rive Magazine

Now before you go, I'd like to leave you with a few parting remarks.

-- Remember, we are in a contest developed around Project Runway. Their judges critique their designs, and each artists takes those remarks, and "makes them work," IF they see them relevant to improving their own design - and so should you.

-- None of the judges assumed their position for any reason but to assist Project Dollway - so don't get a chip on your shoulder or think a judge doesn't like you if you get a bad review.

-- Judging fashion, like any art medium, is subjective. While one group of judges might not like your designs; another might love them! Go figure! It really is a matter of taste sometimes!!

-- There are two different criteria for fashion designing - one for those who want to design what they want for themselves, and one for those who want to design commercially - conceivably to sell their goods. Deciding what your fashions are designed for may help you decide if a critique is applicable to your designs

-- YOU have to decide if you want to change something based on your vision of what you want to create - never let anything sitfle YOUR dream - remember, you can NEVER be wrong about YOUR opinion!!

And finally, farewell, Mr. Blackwell - thanks for having an opinion and not being afraid to voice it; and for shocking us and making us giggle! Thank you for creating beautiful fashions for Hollywood divas that included Yvonne DeCarlo, Jayne Mansfield, Dorothy Lamour, and Jane Russell. But most of all, thank you for showing us critiques that make those our judges give us much more preferable!

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