You are here: Home > Fashion > Fashion’s Isabella Blow in all her glory at Somerset House exhibition

Fashion’s Isabella Blow in all her glory at Somerset House exhibition

Fashion’s Isabella Blow in all her glory at Somerset House exhibition

Isabella Blow helped launch the careers of designer Alexander McQueen and milliner Philip Treacy (Picture: Mario Testino)

The late Isabella Blow is the subject of Somerset House’s new exhibition, which honours the fashion world’s quirkiest star.

Savage Beauty, an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of the late Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York, broke records as the venue’s most viewed fashion exhibition of all time.

This week, Somerset House has opened its doors to a new exhibition putting the spotlight on the woman who helped catapult McQueen to international acclaim.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! not only charts the wardrobe of the fashion editor and stylist, who tragically took her own life in 2007, but also explores her significance on late 20th and early 21st century fashion through her relationship with the two designers she was closest to: McQueen and Philip Treacy.

Blow came across them when they were students. Treacy was studying millinery at the Royal College of Art when she asked him to make the head dress for her wedding to art dealer Detmar Blow in 1989 and, as the story famously goes, she first met McQueen at his MA graduate show at Central Saint Martins in 1990. She bought his whole collection, paying in instalments, and he delivered it to her in bin bags.

‘The story is absolutely true,’ says Professor Louise Wilson, who took over as course director of the MA fashion design course at Central Saint Martins the year McQueen graduated.

‘Isabella arrived late. She sat on the floor; she didn’t want a seat. She loved the collection and came to the college the next day and bought it.’

Blow harvested their careers by wearing their designs at fashion functions, including their work in her fashion shoots and opening her Belgravia home to them.

‘The confidence that gives a designer fresh out of college is insurmountable.’ says Wilson.

‘When you’re at the start of your creative journey and someone responds to your work emotionally and financially, you can’t have a bigger influence.’

‘I can’t think of many fashion editors today who are connected to designers in the way she was,’ adds Alistair O’Neil, who co curated the exhibition.

‘She emerged at a time where support for young design talent in this country stopped.’ It was before initiatives such as the British Fashion Council’s New Generation scheme.

Treacy and McQueen’s trajectory from students to internationally acclaimed designers in the space of the four years they knew Blow serves as the narrative for the exhibition.

One of the first rooms showcases both designers’ graduate collections. Another celebrates their arrival on the international playing field in 1996.

‘During that season the New York Times started to write about these designers, saying they were world class,’ says O’Neil.

Shortly afterwards, McQueen was made chief designer at Givenchy and the hats in his first collection were all made by Treacy.

‘That was what we call Cool Britannia, when London designers and creativity became really influential worldwide.’

One of the final rooms looks at the collections the pair created after Blow’s death, most notably McQueen’s La Dame Bleue. He hired illustrator Richard Gray to create the invitations, which showed Blow riding through the clouds on a chariot drawn by two horses him and Treacy.

But Blow offered more than support, she also fed them ideas.

‘In 1998, she became fascinated with chain mail and told designers it was something they should invest in,’ says O’Neil.

‘That’s partly how we got McQueen’s Joan Of Arc collection. There’s also a fantastic editorial she did with The Face called The Dark Knight Returns, which had McQueen and US designer Jeremy Scott dressed in armour.’

The exhibition focuses as much on Blow’s wardrobe as it does on the work of McQueen and Treacy. That was only made possible by Daphne Guinness, who stopped an auction at Christie’s by buying the collection in its entirety.

‘This exhibition wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,’ says O’Neil. ‘It would have taken years to track down the pieces.’

Blow was a true eccentric, from the dramatic hats with which she became synonymous to the Manolos on her feet. But it wasn’t purely to provoke. Rather, her outfits served to push our preconceptions of good taste and beauty. It was never about wearing a strange outfit just to get photographed in the street, as has become the case today.

‘She helped set that in motion but what was different about Isabella is that she had a cause,’ says O’Neil. ‘She wanted to promote the designers she wanted to invest in.’

Wilson goes a step further. ‘When you imagine Isabella being around now, with all the bloggers etc, it might not seem unusual but you have to think about it in context,’ she says.

‘She wore the clothes. She didn’t dress up for press opportunities. She didn’t make a career out of how she dressed. That was just her. It was her innate emotion.’

‘People these days are given things to promote that hordes of people end up buying. It’s about commercialism and I don’t think it was ever about that for Isabella.’

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.

Links : air max 90 | replica cartier jewelry | replica cartier jewelry | Designer Pens Shop Sale | van cleef jewelry replica | スーパーコピー時計 | bvlgari b zero ring replica | スーパーコピー 代引き | Hermes Clic H Bracelet replica | Cartier LOVE Ring replica | Cartier replica love bracelet