I have been intrigued by the late Isabella Blow for years, but have been stimulated (by the McQueen play) to find out something about her. As I am doing had a mini-series about people who dress stylishly I thought that poor Issie deserved a post. Her personality is summarised by one of her biographers, Lauren Goldstein Crowe:
A wickedly funny, tragically insecure, very vulnerable little girl hiding beneath a painstakingly created fantastic facade that attracted the attention of the world.
Isabella is famous for
- Being a PA to Vogue editor Anna Wintour
- Working as a stylist
- Editing various fashion supplements and magazines
- Buying Alexander McQueen’s entire first collection
- Promoting Philip Treacy, hat maker
- Committing suicide in 2007
“Stylist” is a word that can include someone who runs around for the photographer checking for loose threads, but IB was a proper stylist. A highly artistic individual with a good education and a sense of humour she knew how to put things together beautifully from an early age.
However you have to feel sorrow and sympathy for her. This poor woman, tragically blamed for the accidental death of her baby brother, and by implication for the failure of her parents marriage, was talented and emotionally needy in equal measure. Her dysfunctional family had some upper class credentials but a funny attitude to money so Isabella always worried about not having enough (love or money). Two failed marriages, eight unsuccessful attempts at IVF, ovarian cancer and severe mental health problem, Blow was both embraced and rejected by the Fashion in-crowd. Her funeral was well attended by the rich, famous and stylishly extreme. On her coffin – white roses and an extravagant black galleon-at-sail Philip Treacy hat.
Sadly Isabella Blow felt ugly and was decidedly unhappy about her appearance. As you can see she wasn’t ugly at all – just an ordinary or normal looking girl. In fact her lovely figure and natural dress sense meant she generally looked sensational. The amazing outfits she was given or bought from modern designers meant she always made a statement, with courage and charm. I love the black and white dog-tooth dress she is wearing with a lips hat. She said she dressed up to prop herself up, so unhappy she was with her own raw material – a woman with a high-profile but crippling low self-esteem.
Always interestingly dressed she liked well-fitting clothes, bare arms, bustier and tremendous hats.