Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Isabella Blow: A disarming risk taker remembered

ISABELLA BLOW's husband Detmar confirmed this morning that the 48-year-old fashion guru died in the early hours of Sunday morning at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. The news has shocked the international fashion world, for whom Isabella has been a bastion, credited with the discovery of such successful figures as Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy, Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant. "She was a ray of sunshine," said Detmar, of the woman he proposed to just 16 days after meeting her at a wedding in 1988 before marrying her the following year. "She was a beautiful, brave woman; indefatigable, courageous and brilliantly intellectual." Blow, who recently underwent surgery to remove a tumour and had also suffered severe depression, had been confined to hospital for some time but her husband said he had still been hopeful of a recovery. "She was original, impactful, generous-minded and spotted some of the greatest talents," said Geordie Greig, editor of Tatler magazine for which Blow was still working as a contributing editor. "She was the most intelligent and creative person in fashion. In many ways she was the British queen of fashion. She was intoxicating. You could never get enough of her. She was a free spirit." Philip Treacy, whose hats Isabella was rarely seen without, also paid tribute from the Blow country home this morning: "She was a great champion of young people," he said. "She came from the establishment but she was a punk at heart. Her love was talent, rather than money. Her ethos was beauty and elegance. And her encouragement was rare." (May 8 2007, AM)

Dolly Jones,

10 reasons why I love Isabella Blow

1) There is no compromise about her. She is very much declaring with her style 'Here it is, you can like it or lump it.'

2) There is nothing random about her dress sense. It's a controlled madness, a whimsy that's not indulged to the extreme.

3) Amid the crazy ensembles lies a classic formula of a slick of fresh lipstick and a hat. There's something quintessentially old-fashioned about that and I love how in her own fantastic way she sticks to this formula.

4) She discovered Alexander McQueen.... good god, what the fashion industry owes her is priceless.

5) She describes herself as a pig sniffing out truffles when detecting fashion talent. Said truffles include models like Stella Tennant and Sophia Dahl, designers like Hussein Chalayan and photographers like Jurgen Teller--not to mention Mr. Treacy and Mr. McQueen.

6) She used to arrive much later at fashion shows than anyone else because she changed into a different outfit in between shows. That's an example of a perfect fashion spectacle in all its decadence.

7) Her relationship with hats is a true love affair - 'You can't be lonely in a hat' she says. It protects her from fashion vampires; 'That's why I wear the hats, to keep everyone away from me. They say "Oh can I kiss you?" I say, "No, thank you very much. That's why I've worn the hat. Goodbye." I don't want to be kissed by all and sundry.'

8) Unlike her steely ex-boss Anna Wintour (for whom Isabella worked for at American Vogue in the early 80s), you can sense a vulnerability about Isabella, underneath the hats, the sharply cut attire and the bolshy speech.

9) Popular culture seems to seek out Isabella as she appeared in Wes Andersons' Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in a cameo role (wearing a fabulous hat of course!).

10) Quite simply there just aren't that many risk takers in the fashion industry. People are constantly following other people. True, original, risk-takers are hard to come by.

Quoting liberally from susie_bubble, 07 August 2006,

B/W images by Steven Meisel, Orange acrylic disk hat photo by Donald McPherson, Alexander McQueen w/ Isabella Blow by David LaChapelle

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