I’d been tipped off about the Isabella Blow exhibition, Fashion Galore! being good and when I visited this week, it didn’t disappoint. I’d advise all fashion girls to take a quick trip over to Somerset House to see it before it closes (on March 2nd). The place was packed (on a Tuesday morning!) with women of our age, all looking very stylish, so maybe you’ve all already seen it….
Isabella was a unique and crazy talent a in a world not short of unique crazy talent, she was uncompromising in her approach to beauty and lived life completely immersed in fashion. The exhibition documents her life and work well, with some surprising insights and I left wanting to find out more (in a good way) so I’ll read the biography her husband Detmar Blow wrote to fill in the gaps.
I knew she was quirky, but what I hadn’t realised was what terrific taste she had. I got used to seeing her looking whacky, but the show demonstrated her discerning eye for an outfit and challengingly balanced hat, as well as her work launching artists such as Susan Webster and Tim Noble. There’s a great quote in the exhibition from David Lebovitz who said she was “An academic with a punk rocker’s anarchic sensibility’, what a fabulous way to be remembered!
Highlights include getting up close and personal with Alexander McQueen’s Central Saint Martins graduation collection (which Isabella bought in total, paying £100 a month to him in exchange for an outfit). I’d never seen this collection before and it was thrilling to observe, as well as outfits from the 1996 Dante Collection that Isabella helped style.
The clothes all look beautiful but I also loved reading about how Isabella worked as a stylist, including the fact that she only ever wrote in pink ink -in order to think in a more up beat way (Yard O Lead Claret colourway, I’m refilling all my fountain pen immediately) and how she wore every outfit she used in a shoot for a while before styling it, to ensure it worked, even if it meant eating roast beef in the staff canteen whilst wearing antlers.
Somerset house has a few events connected to the show that look interesting, including ‘If you don’t wear lipstick, I can’t talk to you’, a talk by Jane Richardson, lead stylist at cosmetic giant Nars, based around Isabella’s love of bright colours and lipstick.
It’s an impressive collection of beautiful clothes, what a wardrobe!
Above is McQueen’s first collection, I found it extraordinary to see this knowing what was coming next in terms of greatness and tragedy.
The show is also full of Philip Treacy’s amazing hats, one of my favourite’s was this delicate graphic one, above, and the infamous ‘ship’ one below, which is made entirely from feathers. She wore the Undercover pink chiffon burka to a Christian Dior show in 2002, as an anti-war protest.
Isabella often wore odd shoes…
Get yourselves over to Somerset House before this lovely exhibition closes and see if you can get through the pop up gift shop without buying a red lipstick (nice little display of product from Nars there….you are warned). More details here.
All images from Dezeen