13.1.14

ISABELLA BLOW: FASHION GALORE

Somerset House forms the grand backdrop to the shows of the most influential and powerful designers during London Fashion Week. Where else then is a more fitting setting for an exhibition celebrating the life, achievements and eclectic style of one of the most influential and creative people in the British fashion industry.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore



Isabella Blow, whose career in fashion started as assistant to American Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, was the infamous Fashion Director of several different titles over her long and inspiring career, including Tatler, British and American Vogue and Sunday Times Style. Not only were her fashion spreads incredibly unique, her interest in historical referencing lead to all the images she produced  becoming absolutely timeless. It is fair to say that her influence will live on for many years.

Having very recently finished her biography, written by her husband, leant by Millie, a visit to the exhibition was an absolute must. 

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore partnered up with the Isabella Blow Foundation, an organisation that  promotes British fashion and encourages young, aspiring art and fashion students by providing bursaries and scholarships to arts colleges, and Central Saint Martins, part of University of the Arts London, to create a major fashion exhibition celebrating not only Isabella's inspiring career, and with this her own extraordinary style, but also the talented individuals she discovered.
The most famous of her discoveries was the late Alexander McQueen. Having viewed his graduate collection, and recognising his extreme talent for tailoring, Isabella bought his entire first collection. As an influential stylist and fashion director, arguably she raised McQueen's profile and contributed largely to building the empire that it is today, one of the most celebrated British based design houses.


She also aided the career of milliner to the royals, Philip Treacy. Often commissioning bizarre and unique hats from Treacy, she also featured his creations in her editorial shoots for big name magazine, thus raising his profile. One particularly interesting hat of Treacy's was featured at the exhibition, a lobster hat, that is exhibited on a mannequin submerged in a tank of water. This, just one example of Isabella's zany, quirky sense of creativity.


all images courtesy of Peter MacDiarmid / Getty for Somerset House 

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore brings together her incredibly eclectic wardrobe, full of early McQueen and several Philip Treacy pieces as well as a number of single, odd shoes, all now owned by Daphne Guinness, alongside examples of her work in Tatler and Sunday Times Style. 

One particularly striking area of the exhibition was the projected interview with Isabella after the McQueen show that she styled. Hearing her passion and true belief in McQueen made his betrayal even more hurtful. (To read more into this, I would urge you to see the exhibition and read her biography.)

That being said, it is undeniable that the McQueen collection of 2008 that was dedicated to her, right after Isabella's tragic suicide, does embody her creativity and pay a true tribute to the woman who served Alexander so well for the entirety of his career.


With a style so eccentric and an undeniable talent for spotting and shooting fashion in innovative ways, combining history with contemporary art to create timeless images, Isabella Blow is a definite inspiration to myself, as I am sure she is to others.

The final part of the exhibition was a film by Ruth Hogben to accompany the exhibition. A very touching, well made fashion film to stand next to a brilliantly curated exhibition that truly honours and respects one of the greatest women in fashion.



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