Subscribe to Candid Magazine
Fashion Galore! The Isabella Blow Exhibition At Somerset House
November 27, 2013
Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! the exhibition dedicated to the late fashion editor is now open at Somerset House. Focusing on her extraordinary 30-year career, the narrative for the exhibition centres largely around her relationships with the talent she championed; Alexander McQueen and Phillip Treacy in particular.
Most of the pieces on display are from Blow’s own wardrobe, saved from auction in 2010 by close friend Daphne Guinness. However, the exhibition begins with a look back at the dramatic backdrop from which this inimitable creative mind sprung.
There is a picture at the entrance taken in Papa New Guinea by Blow’s paternal grandmother, adventuress Lady Vera Delves Broughton, which perfectly captures the ambition and spirit of adventure that Blow translated into her life’s work. After the aristocratic family name was brought into disrepute in the wake of scandal (her grandfather Jock Delves Broughton was involved in the White Mischief murder trial of 1941) Blow grew up without the financial luxury and comfort in heritage that her ancestors had enjoyed in pre-war Britain. In fact the exhibition is peppered with personal affects that hint at the depth of character underneath the flair for fashion, from a Rolodex covered in pink ink to the pair of odd shoes that led to a meeting (and subsequent friendship) with Andy Warhol.
Driven by creativity, Blow’s collection is a lesson in fashion from the last 30 years. Starting with pieces from the graduate shows of household names such as Alexander McQueen, Phillip Treacy, Hussein Chalayan and Julien Macdonald, the walls are installed with short films of these collections on the catwalk. A large section is also dedicated to McQueen and Treacy in 1996; this was the year McQueen first achieved international acclaim with his autumn/winter Dante collection, and the year Blow styled Treacy’s show.
Also dedicated to her two most prominent protégés is a series of installations by set designer Shona Heath, which feature key pieces (such as Treacy’s feathered ship hat) set up as editorial tableaus – a fitting life-size complement to the double page magazine editorials of Blow’s work that line the walls.
Preceded by a parade of some of Blow’s most iconic outfits, including her Undercover pink burka is a video installation of La Dame Bleue, the collaborative Spring/Summer 2008 collection created by McQueen and Treacy as a posthumous tribute to their mentor.
Aside from being a stunning collection of work, this show represents the legacy that Blow left behind, not least the Isabella Blow Foundation created by Daphne Guinness in the stylist’s name to support and nurture creative talent through financial and mental hardship.
Images courtesy of Peter MacDiarmid for Somerset House