Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Isabella Blow: The Original Gaga...

So until today, I had never heard of Isabella Blow - and after watching 'McQueen and I' in my lecture today, I've no bloody idea how I didn't! I am ashamed to call myself a fashion student! The woman who discovered milliner Philip Treacy and world reknown British designer Lee 'Alexander' McQueen, not to mention a pretty influential figure to the world of fashion as we now know it!

She was always seen in completely eccentric attire - more so with her hats and headwear than her entire ensemble, probably due to the fact that she had a good friend in Treacy. Well known from suffering from depression, and making several suicide attempts, she likened her visits to him as therapy as well as the art.

"If I feel really low, I go to see Philip, cover my face [with his hats] and feel fantastic... Wearing a hat is like cosmetic surgery."

One of Philip Treacy's first creations - Isabella Blow's wedding. Treacy once said: "I couldn't believe that I'd hit upon a person who didn't expect tulle and veiling and pearls for her wedding hat."

As well as Treacy, Blow also not only discovered, but became great friends with Lee McQueen. She first saw him at the St Martin's graduate show in 1994, and insisted on purchasing every single item in his collection - totalling £5000 of which she paid of in £100 weekly instalments. Everything about his collection was completely her - they were beautiful and they were savage, completely revolutionary for the world of fashion at that time.

A lot of his collections took on the silhouette and movement of birds, they way they flew and the movement they made inspired the majority of his lines. Blow famously said that:

"Lee is like a wild bird with a good silhouette. He makes clothes fly"

With such a career spanning from fashion director at Tatler and The Sunday Times, working with Anna Wintour and discovering now world reknown designers, it seems that her tragic childhood and upbringing was never far behind her. She had attempted several suicides within two years with her last attempt successful in May 2007.

I don't want to focus too much on the tragic way she departed, but more so on her accomplishments and the positive effects that she projected on to those she knew and loved. She took both Philip Treacy and Lee McQueen from nothing but university students to worldwide success and becoming some of fashion's biggest names today!

Possibly McQueens most famous show was that which he teamed up with Treacy in memory of Isabella entitled 'Le Dame Bleue'.  The audience began with mechanical wings flapping at the beginning of the catwalk from which the models emerged. The general theme of birds - although anticipated due to McQueens general love of the silhouette, was completely fitting for Blow who admired that particular aspect of McQueen's designs and it was something just out of this world.

I could go on forever with hundreds of quotes and pages and pages of writing but I think the best way to show what Isabella Blow was all about is with photographs. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so see what you take from it yourself...

Her coffin which comprised one of her favourite hats by friend Philip Treacey.

And just one last final bit from me. An influential fashion stylist and editor, a muse to the great Lee 'Alexander' McQueen and the woman who discovered Philip Treacy - the world of fashion would be a very different place had it not had her input. One thing that can be said about Isabella Blow is that she was hugely eccentric from the very beginning, to the very end!

Lee Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow in their spread for Vanity Fair. Fashion will always remember you. Rest In Peace.

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