A legend, a wardrobe, an exhibition.
Text: Leonidas Liolios
If you did not wear lipstick she wouldn’t talk to you. Isabella Blow was not only a visionary, but the true essence of fashion in flesh and bones. She begun working as Anna Wintour’s assistant in the 1980s cleaning her desk with Perrier. Returned to London in 1986 to work for Britsh Vogue. Later on as a fashion director of The Sunday Times and Tatler Magazine. Along the way she discovered Alexander McQueen, Filep Treacy and Julien McDonald. She built careers overnight. Inspired people and the scene and earned a spot next to her majesty, Diana Vreeland, as one of the most legendary editors of all times. Her tragic death (in 2006) marked half the end of an era. A half that became complete with another tragic loss. That of McQueen’s, in 2009. Both committed suicide. Both slaves to an art form, that is not considered an art to begin with. Maybe the last representatives of pure fashion. Of pure creation.
And just because we live our lives in fashion and judging someone by the way he or she looks is quite all there is, what is there to say about Blow and her extravagance extraordinaire that remains until today as vivid as it was back in the days of her reign?
It is thanks to guardian of fashion, style icon and muse Daphne Guinness, who also happened to be a close friend of both Blow and McQueen that an exhibition is live and running as we speak at Somerset House dedicated to Isabella’s marvelous collection of clothes, shoes and headpieces, by hand of the very best, that she herself chose and mentored. Notably Guinness bought Blow’s gardarobe before it went out for auctioning at Christie’s.
“The decision to put Isabella’s wardrobe on display was a natural progression; it felt like what she would have wanted. I bought the collection because I couldn’t bear for it to be dispersed; it was her life’s work – her legacy. What better way of celebrating that legacy than allowing the world to view it?” – said Guinness.
From Philip Treacy divine headpieces to Chalayan dresses and McQueen’s graduate collection as bought directly on its entirely by Blow, to her own scent (that of Fracas by Robert Piguet) spawning out of the garments, the exhibition is a realistic representation of the later Isabella Blow through her own closet.
With Lee Alexander McQueen
The exhibition is curated by Alistair O’Neill with Shonagh Marshall and designed by award-winning architectural firm Carmody Groarke, with installations by celebrated set designer Shona Heath.
Partnerships: Isabella Blow Foundation, Central Saint Martins.
20 November 2013 – 2 March 2014
Daily 10.00-18.00 (Last admission 17.00)
Until 21.00 Thursdays (Last admission 20.00)
24 & 31 December 10.00-16.00, 25 & 26 December-closed, 1 January 12.00-18.00
£12.50, £10 concessions, £6.25 on Mondays