As someone interested in fashion and studying not far from Somerset House, it was not long until I decided to see the gallery’s latest fashion display. Isabella Blow’s exhibition, organised by the Isabella Blow foundation, showcases her incredible wardrobe.
Isabella Blow was an aristocratic hugely famous editor (she started her career as an assistant to Anna Wintour in 1980) and stylist (she launched many great designers, such as Alexandre McQueen and Phillip Treacy). She became famous for the oufits she wore and imagined, until her tragic death in 2007.
The exhibition is huge, thanks to Daphnee Guiness who bought Blow’s wardrobe after her death. While certain parts of the immense collection of hats and dresses, relate Isabella’s life events, some others make you feel that she is in the room: the perfume emanating from the dresses (in perfect conditions, as if they had been worn the day before), the hand-written letters, make up features and videos. Dress after dress, you can begin to trace back Blow’s extravagant style and life. In a room at the end of the exhibition, a huge screen playing Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2008 catwalk, illustrates his and Treacy’s tribute to Isabella.
The retrospect is an absolute must if you are interested in fashion: both for the extraordinary pieces it displays and for the great tribute it pays to Blow. Her legacy shows how dynamic, inspiring, eccentric and creative she was (well before Gaga and Della Russo). She taught us that fashion should be fun; and she made the world more vivid and vibrant in colors.
“Fashion is a vampiric thing, it’s the hoover on your brain. 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. I want to be kissed by the people I love.” – a legend.
Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! is on at Somerset House until March 2, with tickets from £6.25 – £12.50.