BetteBack September 4, 1974: Bette Midler Makes Number One On Worst Dressed List

Appleton Post Crescent
September 4, 1974


Singer Bette Midler is No. 1 on Mr. Blackwell‘s list of the 10 worst dressed women of 1973. No. 10 is a man: rock music star David Bowie.

For only the second time in 14 years of issuing the list, Blackwell included a man.

The designer explained, “If they want to face the public as a woman, they deserve to make the list.” He described Bowie as “a cross between Joan Crawford and Marlene Deitrich doing a glitter revival of ‘New Faces’.”

The other man who made the list in another decade is comedian Milton Berle. Berle dressed as a woman on his weekly television show to earn that title.

The 1973 list also includes such persons as Britain‘s Princess Anne and Jacqueline Onassis.

Blackwell, saving his most cutting remarks for Miss Midler, told a news conference in the drawing room of his mansion Thursday, “She looks like she took pot luck in a laundromat.

“Unlike Phyllis Diller, who worked at being bad, Bette Midler loves her scene,” said Blackwell. “She is really taking it seriously. She has put the worst of nostalgia together. Nothing really looks right on her.

“I don’t know where she got that push-up bra,” he added. “That went out years ago.” He said he judged her personal wardrobe rather than her stage costumes.

The worst dressed, named by Blackwell in order of ranking from one to 10, were: Miss Midler, Princess Anne, actress Racquet Welch, tennis star Billie Jean King, Mrs. Onassis, actresses Elke Sommer and Sarah Miles, the Andrews Sisters, actress Liv Ullman and Bowie.

The designer criticized Mrs. Onassis for her casual wardrobe. “I’d like to see her in a dress. I’m tired of $5,000 worth of T-shirts,” he chided.

He called Princess Anne’s wedding dress dull and declared she “makes her mother, the Queen, look fashionable, and that takes some doing.”

Miss Welch, who was No. 1 on the worst dressed list last year, dropped to No. 3, but not because Blackwell likes her taste any better. “She looks worse, but she’s become less important,” he said.

To dillute the sour taste of his worst dressed awards, Blackwell added a list of ladies who deserve plaudits for being “fashion Independents.” In this category he chose: Liza Minnelli, Rose Kennedy, Ann-Margret, Princess Caroline of Monaco, models-actresses Paula Tate and Marisa Berenson, Mrs. Henry Ford II and Mrs. Fred Hayman, the wife of a Beverly Hills store owner.

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