So it’s been a sluggish start to the New Year blogging-wise, but after a busy week of working and prepping shoots I realised that I best put pen to paper and create some copy. And no, today’s blog is not going to be a belated synopsis of fashion in 2013 or a preview of the trends to come, but a piece about the amazing Isabella Blow exhibition at Somerset House, which I finally went to see with my friend Fi over the holidays.
The ‘Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!’ exhibition (Image: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)
Isabella wearing the Lobster outfit as seen on display above
Whilst both Fi and I are huge fashion lovers, I really didn’t expect the viewing to take more than an hour – as per a previous trip to the Paul Klee show at Tate Modern. How wrong could I be? This exhibition (curated by Alistair O’Neill with set design by Shona Heath) is so dramatic, rich and breathtakingly beautiful that even when rushing at the end (we were over an hour late to meet another friend-apologies again Bappa) it still took 2 hours to view everything. Room after room of Isabella’s exquisite clothes, all displayed on mannequins based on the late style icon herself, allowed me to closely peruse and truly appreciate the work of the genius designers she both discovered and mentored – chiefly Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy, but also Julien Macdonald and Hussein Chalayan.
A selection of stunning Philip Treacy hats (Image 2: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)
Alongside the stunning clothing, there is memorabilia that belonged to Isabella, including comic faxes sent at Sunday Times Style, Rolodex entries written in pink ink and a stub of her favourite Chanel Rouge lipstick. Also supplementing the garments are videos of McQueen and Treacy’s graduate collections, their first London Fashion Week shows and the piece de resistance, the McQueen tribute show to Isabella Blow shown at Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2008. With a symbolic bird theme, and entitled ‘La Dame Bleue’, the catwalk is flanked by a huge pair of illuminated wings (angel wings?), a thank-you to the person who helped him become one of the most revered designers of the 20th/21st Century.
A selection of looks taken from Alexander McQueen SS08 show ‘La Dame Bleue’ (Images:style.com)
I recommend anyone with even an iota of interest in fashion to visit this exhibition. It is stimulating, breathtaking and also hugely tragic. The late Isabella, with her dramatic hats and wonky lipstick, was a fabulous fashion director and a true eccentric style icon, without whom British fashion would be infinitely poorer. This is a stunning tribute to her work. Get down there pronto and be inspired.
Reclining in a dramatic Philip Treacy hat
Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen, at the launch of her lipstick collaboration with Mac, 7th Sept 2005, London
‘ Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!’ runs from 20 Nov 2013 – 2 Mar 2014 at Somerset House, Strand London WC2R 1LA.