The Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! exhibition

Live and breathe fashion? Make sure you don’t miss the highly acclaimed Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! exhibition which is now open at Somerset House (London). This exhibition honours the life and wardrobe of the late Isabella Blow and gives you a glimpse of her extraordinary fashion collection.

With over a hundred pieces from Isabella’s collection, such as clothes, shoes and hats, you can immerse yourself in the world of high fashion. Find items from amongst others Julien Macdonald, Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and Philip Treacy who Isabella Blow discovered and supported. She bought, for example, Alexander McQueen’s entire collection from his Central Saint Martins graduate show and when Philip Treacy was a millinery student she commissioned him to make the head-dress for her wedding in 1989.

But who was Isabella Blow? Known for her eccentric outfits and pushing fashion boundaries she lived an extraordinary life with ups but also downs which led to her tragic death in 2007. When she was an assistant of Anna Wintour at the US Vogue in the 80s she was famous for the bold outfits she wore and spotting new talent (I wonder whether she experienced any “The Devil wears Prada” situations). In 1986 she returned to London and started to work at Tatler followed by British Vogue and the Sunday Times Style as the Fashion Director in 1997 after returning to Tatler as Fashion Director. She influenced fashion with her discovery of fashion talents like Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy whose dramatic hats she often wore. But it didn’t stay with fashion designers, she also launched the fashion model careers of Stella Tennant and Sophie Dahl and she worked with major fashion photographers such as Steven Meisel. With him she did the Anglo-Saxon Attitudes shoot for British Vogue in 1993 with a cost of around £80,000 (!). One of the models she chose was Stella Tennant and it marked the start of her phenomenal model career.

This exhibition wouldn’t have been possible without Daphne Guinness. After Isabella’s death, her wardrobe was to be auctioned off at Christies. Daphne Guinness, however, purchased the entire collection thereby preserving one of the most important private collections of late 20th Century/early 21st Century British fashion design.

It goes without saying that fashionistas can’t afford to miss this exhibition. Curious about Isabella Blow’s life? Read more here.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! (20 November 2013 – 2 March 2014)
Somerset House
10am – 6pm Daily. Thursdays until 9pm
Embankment East Galleries, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

Image above: Isabella Blow, 1997 © Mario Testino.

PS. On Sunday 1 December 2013 Somerset House has an event, Hats Off to Isabella Blow, to celebrate the major winter events that have recently opened at Somerset House, Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! and Coach presents Skate at Somerset House. This event is a special one-off ice skating session where skaters are encouraged to don their most dazzling headwear.

There will be a prize for the best in show and all skaters getting into the spirit of it will receive a free hot drink after their skate and half price entry to the Isabella Blow exhibition! So make/find the most fabulous headwear, get your skates and head over to Somerset House on Sunday 1 December!

Jacket — Alexander McQueen, Central Saint Martins MA Fashion Collection 1992. Duchess satin jacket with boned bustle back and points at the front, silk. Underwear — Rigby & Peller. Shoes — Manolo Blahnik. Model: Alexia Wight. © Nick Knight

Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow: Burning Down The House, 1996, London © David LaChapelle Studio, Inc.

Coat — Alexander McQueen, S/S 2003. Black frock coat with feather stand up collar and embroidery detailing, silk and feather. Model: Alexia Wight. © Nick Knight

Isabella Blow and Philip Treacy, 2003 for Vanity Fair © Donald McPherson.

Hat — Philip Treacy, S/S 2003. Cut out mouths pop art hat, paper, silk and wire. Dress — Chalayan, S/S 1999. Cream folded pleat dress, silk. Model: Xiao Wen Ju at IMG. © Nick Knight.

Hat — Philip Treacy, c. 2004. Net dome hat, net. Coat — Louis Vuitton, A/W 2004. White fur coat, rabbit fur. Dress — Wunderkind, S/S 2006. Black silk draped low cut dress, silk. Worn to the film premiere of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, London, 6 December 2004. Model: Liberty Ross at Storm Models. © Nick Knight.


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