Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore is a bittersweet celebration of the infamous stylist and her unique vision. Produced in collaboration with Somerset House and the Isabella Blow Foundation (spearheaded by close friend Daphne Guinness,) the exhibition showcases the most remarkable pieces of Blow’s wardrobe: a fascinating collection of today’s leading designers’ earliest work, which makes for a fascinating yet heartbreaking experience.
The exhibition is an ode to the stylist’s ever-eccentric vision, and her remarkable eye for predicting the potential of some of today’s biggest talent across design, modelling and photography. Blow was instrumental in kick-starting the careers of many of today’s revered designers, yet her own was a life both embellished and marred by her all-encompassing talent.
The exhibition opens with Tim Noble and Sue Websters’ suitably macabre sculpture. An amalgamation of taxidermy casts an unnerving shadow of Isabella’s head, on a stick, onto the wall infront. The exhibit then continues to delve into the vast collections of the late stylist, revealing stunning debut pieces by Hussein Chalayan, Julian Macdonald, Philip Treacey and the late Alexander McQueen. These are just a few of the talents which Blow nutured from inception, pivotal in building the staggering and continuing success of these artists in recent years. This may be said particularly of McQueen- their collaboration was an enduring affair, first initiated at McQueen’s graduate show, where Isabella bought the entire collection- on the spot.
The exhibit also touches on her life in the magazine world, with personal possessions, letters, and magazine spreads providing a personal glimpse into her wonderfully eccentric days. When her death left the collection in the hands of Christie’s auction house, it was her friend Guinness who prevented its sale, by purchasing the entire catalogue. Guinness believes that Blow would have wanted her collection to be exhibited and celebrated- these are, after all, pieces to be lauded and admired.
The ominous grandiosity of the showspace is appropriately gloomy for a collection which is in equal measures whimsical and morbid, yet always unbelievably magical- much like the woman herself.