Isabella Blow

Image of Isabella Blow
Release Date: 
November 1, 2010
Thames & Hudson
Reviewed by: 

The compilation of notes, written in their own handwriting, from some of the fashion industry’s leaders, legends and unknowns renders an extraordinary portrait of a much loved and much missed fashion icon.

There is little question that the death of Isabella Blow has had a profound effect on the fashion industry. Martina Rink, who was Ms. Blow’s assistant, has assembled the most touching and heartfelt remembrances from the likes of Manolo Blahnik, Anna Wintour, Sophie Dahl, Hussein Chalayan, Phillip Treacy, and many more who hail from the rarefied world of fashion.

One can only smile and wish to have known this great talent when almost every note recalls the memorable infectiousness of her laugh and the redness of her lipstick. Blow was a character within a business flooded with them, but she will be long remembered for her many talents, the least of which was nurturing other great talents. It is also hard to forget anyone who, when styling for the Tatler, conceived a photo story titled “Nipples from Naples.” She was irreverent, she pushed the envelope, and she dared to be different in a world where beauty and conformity seem to be more the norm than the exception.

With her trademark red lips, her full bosom, and her sartorial splendor—always set off by some confection or other conceived by Phillip Treacy—Isabella Blow achieved great celebrity. Alas, when all her “finds” such as Alexander McQueen and many others achieved their stardom, she was given very little credit. It was she, after all, she who introduced Mr. McQueen to Tom Ford, yet she was left out of the equation when it came to $uccess. She did much of the heavy lifting and took risks when it came to discovering new talent, spanning from designers to stylists to photographers, using her position and power to make the world take notice; she took chances and gained no financial remuneration when these stars were “discovered.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Blow also suffered her personal demons, not the least of which was her inability to conceive. She was haunted by her family skeletons, and a victim of her family’s past deeds. It is crushingly sad when any human takes his or her own life, but when we lose an extreme talent, who also happened to be kind, generous, and full of life, we mourn a loss that much more.