Last week I went to the exhibition on Isabella Blow in the beautiful Somerset House, in London. Isabella Blow was a rich, quirky aristocratic woman, who discovered two great british talents: tormented Alexander McQueen and the mad hatter Philip Treacy.
Born into the rarefied world of British aristocracy, Isabella’s thirty year career began in the early 80s as Anna Wintour’s assistant at US Vogue. In 1997 she became the Fashion Director of the Sunday Times Style after which she returned to Tatler as Fashion Director.
The exhibition is extremely interesting and funny, as it celebrates her extraordinary life through her wardrobe. It’s very clear, complete and didactic, but I think it focuses too much on the apparel and too little on the complex personality of this late British patron of life and art, who committed suicide in 2007. My guess is her character explains a lot about her fashion choices, for example, she used outfits as armours to protect herself from the outside world and had an addiction for hats and shoes. Her clothes are like uniforms: dresses by McQueen, shoes by Manolo Blahnik and hats by Treacy, displayed, in the exhibition, by a large number of mannequins, just to give us an idea of her huge and surrealist wardrobe.
What I found really peculiar and caught most my attention were McQueen’s graduation collection clothes from Central Saint Martins and the video and runaway pieces of the scandalous, subversive, and oh-so-ninties show that him and Blow set in a deconsecrated church.
However, the main highlight was the last section, that displays La Dame Bleue, the S/S 2008 Alexander McQueen collection that McQueen and Philip Treacy collaborated on and dedicated to Isabella after her death, evoking both her legacy and her importance for British fashion.