WHAT: The world’s largest collection of original designs by legendary fashion force Mr. Blackwell will be featured in an exhibit at Colorado State University’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising. The late Mr. Richard Blackwell – known as Mr. Blackwell – is best known for authoring the annual worst-dressed women list in Hollywood. He also was an extraordinary fashion designer. The exhibit, “Mr. Blackwell: A Retrospective”, runs from Oct. 23 through April 1, 2011, and is free and open to the public. The exhibit will feature 32 glamorous gowns – from outrageous to demure – designed by Mr. Blackwell.
In honor of the exhibit opening, Blackwell’s friend, actress Carol Channing, will present a master theater class at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at the University Center for the Arts. This free event is open to the public, but due to limited seating, required tickets are no longer available. However, reporters are invited to the class. CSU also will make b-roll footage of the class available to broadcast reporters on Oct. 23 by approximately 5 p.m. via a broadcast-quality online download.
Reporters are asked to contact Dell Rae Moellenberg or Kimberly Sorensen to make arrangements to obtain video or to RSVP to attend the event. RSVPs are required due to limited seating. Photographers are welcome, but flash photograph is not allowed by Ms. Channing at the event and photographers will be asked not to take photos from any position directly in front of class participants, per Ms. Channing’s request.
WHEN and WHERE: “Mr. Blackwell: A Retrospective” opens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, and concludes on Friday, April 1, 2011, in the University Center for the Arts Avenir Gallery. Reporters are invited to the opening, which will be attended by Channing and potentially other Hollywood names.
Free and public events surrounding the exhibit are:
– Inaugural lecture, “The Fine Art of Contemporary Design and the Legacy of Mr. Blackwell,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at the University Center for the Arts Annex, featuring designer and guest curator Ali Rahimi. Rahimi dressed Emmy award winner Jane Lynch, a star of the TV series “Glee,” for the awards in August, when Lynch won outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series.
– Gala opening reception, 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, University Center for the Arts Avenir Gallery.
– Evening lecture, “The Designing Life of American Legend James Galanos,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, University Center for the Arts Annex.
– Evening lecture, “Mr. Blackwell’s Worst-Dressed Women – The List,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, University Center for the Arts Annex.
DETAILS: The Avenir Museum holds more than 130 accessories and garments designed by Mr. Blackwell and has the largest collection of his work in the world. The collection ranges from formal gowns to men’s ties and feathered boas.
A number of artifacts were given to the museum by the designer in addition to seven large scrapbooks that chronicle his career, his master patterns, and promotional materials including his sketches and fashion photos.
Blackwell, who died in October 2008 at the age of 86, was also an actor, TV and radio personality, book author and journalist in addition to being a fashion critic and designer. His “Ten Worst-Dressed Women” list was unveiled each January. He also published the “Fabulous Fashion Independents” list and annually reviewed Academy Award fashions, now a tradition in the media.
For 48 years, Mr. Blackwell’s worst-dressed women’s list chronicled Hollywood’s fashion fiascos. The lists, first published in 1960, eventually became an annual ritual in Hollywood and covered by media around the world. Stars and celebrities such as Cher, Martha Stewart and even Queen Elizabeth made the list – those on the list often favored the media attention.
Blackwell’s acting career began when, as a teen, he made his first appearance on Broadway. He eventually became a Hollywood agent.
Blackwell launched his clothing line in the late 1950s. He became the first designer to present his line on a television broadcast and make designer garments available to plus-sized women. The House of Blackwell designed for famous women including Jayne Mansfield, Jane Russell and Nancy Reagan.
As a CSU Monfort Professor-in-Residence, Channing also will be teaching a master theater class to CSU music and theater students and guests on Saturday, Oct. 23, at the university. Due to limited seating, the free event is filled to capacity.
The Monfort Professors-in-Residence program, established in 2002, brings to campus distinguished leaders who are nationally and internationally renowned for contributions to the fields of business, government, the sciences and the arts and who interact with students and enrich their learning experiences. The program is supported by the Monfort Family Foundation.