As London gears up for Fashion week, it’s also the last few weeks to see a one off fabulous showcase of the late British magazine editor and muse, Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore at Somerset House.
A look at the life and fashion of the lady who regularly wore daring, one off hats, made by designer Philip Treacy, having discovered his talents, setting him on the road to success. She was also credited for discovering the designer Alexander McQueen, from whom she purchased his entire graduate collection. A close friend to both, the exhibition has over a hundred pieces from her incredibly rich collection, and is one of the most important private collections of late 20th/early 21st century in British fashion design.
The collection is now owned by Daphne Guinness, another friend of Isabella’s, or ‘Izzy’ as she was fondly called by those close to her. Including garments from many other designers with talents she recognised and assisted the launch of including, Hussein Chalayan, and Julien Macdonald. The showcase, put together by award-winning architectural firm Carmody Groarke, with installations by set designer Shona Heath, honour both the couture, and Isabella, with the recognition they deserve.
Blow recollected her fondest memory as trying on her mother’s pink hat, which she explained led her into a career of fashion. But it wasn’t until 1981, when living in New York, that she was introduced to the fashion director of the US edition of Vogue, Anna Wintour, to whom she became a personal assistant, before becoming assistant to US Vogue editor at large now, Andre Leon Talley.
Returning to the UK in 1986, she then worked for Michael Roberts, the fashion director of
Tatler, and the Sunday Times, Style magazine. It was the occasion of her second marriage, in 1989, when she commissioned Philip Treacy to create her wedding headdress, which started the friendship between them.
Her personality was as bold as the designs she wore on her head, which had soon become her trademark. “Fashion is a vampiric thing, it’s the hoover of your brain. That’s why I wear the hats, to keep everyone away from me. They say, ‘Oh, can I kiss you?’ I say, ‘No, thank you very much. That’s why I’ve worn the hat. Goodbye.’ I don’t want to be kissed by sundry and all. I want to be kissed by the people I love.”
With such a sassy attitude, inventive and creative foresight, along with her sheer determination, makes it no surprise that Blow was going to have an impact, and assist the fate of others in the fashion world, such as models Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant, whom she again, also discovered.
At Fashion Galore, there is also a film showing, created by SHOWstudio, in which Liberty Ross struts her stuff showcasing Blow’s signature couture gems, along to Roxy Music’s, When She Walks in the Room, Blow’s favourite song.
Nick Knight who directed the film said: “The question is raised whether the license to be creative, is destructive in the end”. Which adds a sad thought to ponder on, but who could deny there is a fine line many artistically talented people recognize, if not experience.
With garments this cool, to miss the showcase, you’d be a fool!
Until the 2nd of March 2014 at Somerset House, Embankment Galleries.
Somerset House bookshop sells a range of books from Rizzoli with stylish stationery and greetings cards from up and coming British designers.
Daily 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.00)
Late night Thursdays till 21.00 (last admission 20.00)
Entrance £12.50, £10 concessions, £6.25 on Mondays
Photo copyright David La Chapelle
Read the article here published in Macs Magazine February 2014 http://www.macsmagazine.com/2014/02/isabella-blow-at-somerset-house/