Joan Rivers, A Modern Day Mr. Blackwell

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Joan Rivers was a trailblazing comedian that helped paved the way for performers like Rosanne, Whoopi Goldberg, and Amy Schumer. She was also an equally sassy style icon.

A prominent aspect of Rivers’ career was fashion criticism. An often-overlooked medium by the public, Rivers became a fixture for her red carpet commentary. Many remember Rivers on the red carpet, interviewing celebrities about their clothing in a snarking manner for E! Television. After years at E!, Rivers became a part of “Fashion Police”, a television show that comments on celebrity style. This show reached out to the public in ways that commentating from The New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily couldn’t. Who watched wasn’t always fashion conscious, and was more likely to watch the show for its flippant commentary than for its fashion advice. However, Rivers created content that appealed to everyone, even the style minded. She was a host who did not agree with everyone, but she always provided an honest opinion with a couple of jokes, which in the world of fashion, was quite rare.

Rivers had an eye-catching sense of style, she was sometimes trendy and always chose glamorous silhouettes. She favored lush fabrics, which included furs and silks, and like her personality, her clothing was non-apologetic. Rivers always wore black eyeliner with a glossy lip that was never too overbearing. Mostly in her later life she kept her at chin-length, only flipping the hair’s ends out from time to time. Although Rivers became known for her changing face due to her love for plastic surgery, she never strayed from her beauty routine. As Rivers once mused, “The ideal beauty is a fugitive which is never found.”

Rivers’ fashion work is reminiscent of Richard Blackwell of “Mr. Blackwell’s Worst-Dressed List” fame. Rivers’ commentating was similar to Mr. Blackwell’s but “with a bite” according to James Wolcott in his piece, “Wearing Out The Carpet” for Vanity Fair. Although Rivers was far more daring, they both commented on celebrity fashion in a witty manner that appealed to the public.

Joan had the style and taste level to back up her commentating; Rivers knew what she liked and what she didn’t both on and off the red carpet. Although her icon status is from her long comedy career, Rivers’ fashion history is something to comment on too.



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