12 posts tagged "Isabella Blow"
Curator Alistair O’Neill only met the late Isabella Blow once. He was at an art opening with designer Julien Macdonald, one of the late, great Blow’s charges, whom he studied with at the Royal College of Art. “Isabella was wearing a famous Philip Treacy hat, which is in the exhibition. It had feathers around the eyes, which covered her nose and her mouth and her forehead,” he recalled. “I spent the evening talking to her and was completely fascinated. But all that I could concentrate on were her eyes, because I couldn’t really see her mouth. I could only just about listen to what she was saying, and I was just mesmerized by this image of these eyes being framed by the feathers. The combination of her intelligence and her laughing was really intoxicating,” he continued. “I’ve never forgotten that.”
On November 20, O’Neill, along with Shonagh Marshall and Central Saint Martins, will aim to bring the editor, patron, and muse’s work and wardrobe to life with the opening of Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at the Somerset House in London. Before her tragic suicide, in 2007, Blow was a pillar of London’s emerging fashion community. Having worked everywhere—from British and American Vogue to The Sunday Times to Tatler—Blow is credited with discovering such designers as Alexander McQueen (as the story goes, she bought his entire graduate collection after it walked down the Central Saint Martins Runway in 1992), milliner Philip Treacy, Jeremy Scott, and Hussein Chalayan, as well as models Sophie Dahl (whom she once described as a “blow-up doll with brains”) and Stella Tennant.
Aside from being a steadfast supporter of young talents (Treacy and McQueen both lived with her at one point, and she not only gave the designers financial and editorial support but also fed them ideas from her wealth of historical knowledge—fashion and otherwise), Blow, who came from a complicated aristocratic background, was known as a great eccentric—both in her behavior and her dress. Her infamous wardrobe comprised the most extreme pieces by all of the conceptual up-and-comers she helped along the way. And, of course, Treacy’s hats were her screaming signature. Following her death, her sartorial collection was to be sold at Christie’s to settle her estate, but Blow’s friend Daphne Guinness swooped in at the last minute and purchased every piece, because that’s how Isabella—or Issy, as she was known—would have wanted it.
O’Neill, however, did not want to simply paint Blow as an eccentric. “I thought it was important to distance Isabella from those literary ideas of the English eccentric, because they’re often quite tragic,” he explained. “And I’m not sure Isabella was fully tragic—she was quite brave, and very funny. She had a very bored and black humor.” Furthermore, Blow always wore her outfits—whether it be a metallic McQueen corset or an ensemble crafted from brightly hued garbage bags—in a deeply considered manner. “Isabella used her clothes, her hats, and her accessories as a means to modify and transform herself,” said O’Neill. “She had a great eye for silhouette, and her hats were almost a means of plastic surgery for her face, without going under the knife,” added Marshall. “She said they can lift you, they can make you look different, and I think that was something that she really indulged in.” Continue Reading “Isabella Blow: Beyond the Eccentric” »
“The world of fashion has changed,” milliner Philip Treacy told The Telegraph this weekend. His statement was in response to a slew of cruel remarks that online commenters made about a hat he recently crafted for Dita Von Teese. “The power is with the consumer, which is not a bad thing, but hats are different. Hats are really for ultimate occasions, so when I make one, I try to do something different, something noticeable. Hats make people feel good, and that’s the point of them,” he continued.
The interview was conducted as a preview, of sorts, to the Isabella Blow exhibition that will open later this month at the Somerset House, in London. And online disapproval was not the only thing that rubbed the milliner—a protégé and great friend of the late fashion eccentric—the wrong way. “She thought she no longer mattered,” said Treacy of Blow, who before her suicide worried that fashion was for the young and that her unique and exceptional point of view was no longer relevant. “It’s all very well, them feting her now and going on about how wonderful and brilliant she was,” he told the newspaper. “There will be people at that exhibition who laughed at her when she was alive. They’re hypocrites, and they make my blood boil!”
News broke late last week that photographer Deborah Turbeville died in Manhattan on Thursday from lung cancer at the age of 81. Having served as a fit model for Claire McCardell and an editor at Harper’s Bazaar early in her career, Turbeville introduced a personal, heady, and refreshingly feminine aesthetic to the world of fashion photography when, with the support of Richard Avedon, she began seriously taking pictures in the 1970s. “My photographs are extremely feminine,” she said in an interview with Style.com last year. “But it doesn’t have to do with any kind of conviction on my part. It’s all instinctive and spontaneous with me. There is a certain approach that women have. They do get into some kind of inner thing more than the male photographers do.”
That approach landed her editorials in publications like Vogue, W, and The New York Times. She worked alongside icons such as Diane Arbus, Polly Mellen, and Isabella Blow and even got arrested with Bob Richardson during a shoot for Harper’s Bazaar in Texas. Her legacy will live on through her moody, sometimes controversial images, which have been inspiring editors, stylists, and fellow photographers for decades. Here, a look back at the legendary lenswoman’s most memorable shots.
The Swarovski Collective—the crystal house’s initiative to help promising young designers and established names—was started in 1999, after Isabella Blow introduced the Swarovski family to Alexander McQueen. “We saw then the magic that resulted from putting our crystals in the hands of cutting-edge talent, how they push the creative boundaries and limits of creative craftsmanship,” says Nadja Swarovski, the initiative’s founder, who notes that collaborating with young designers has been the “cornerstone” of the project from day one. “The fashion industry is fiercely competitive, and it’s incredibly hard for young designers to fulfill their creative potential season after season,” she adds. Indeed, Swarovski has done its part—the initiative has helped over 150 talents since it launched. This season, fourteen brands—Mary Katrantzou, Creatures of the Wind, Suno, and Eudon Choi among them—have been supported by Swarovski and its stones. And to further celebrate the designers’ creative processes, Swarovski has made behind-the-scenes films that follow every label on its journey down the Fall ’13 runway. Style.com will be giving you exclusive looks at two of Swarovski’s films from each of the four fashion weeks. The series kicks off with Creatures of the Wind, above.
If Gigi Burris has her way, soon enough, every street-style star (not just Anna Dello Russo) will be wearing her statement-making headgear. “Getting dressed used to mean planning out an outfit that was truly head-to-toe, and while today there’s more of an emphasis on casualness, I think there’s also a major resurgence in ladylike dressing,” Burris (pictured) tells Style.com. The 25-year-old up-and-comer first got into millinery while studying design at Parsons. “I was abroad in Paris and fell in love with the chapelleries there. When I came back to New York, I signed up for a hatmaking class, but they nearly canceled the course because there weren’t enough students interested, so I got my friends to sign up,” she said. “When I was creating my ready-to-wear collections for school, I always included hats because I thought the looks were incomplete without them, and eventually they became my focus.” Burris lucked out and found a mentor in couture milliner Leah Chalfen, who really invested time and effort in training Burris as an apprentice. “I love the old-world, romantic aspect to the craft,” she said, explaining how she draws inspirations from luxurious materials like felt, ostrich, and exotic skins (she even sources some of the gator skins from her family’s property in Florida).
Her latest collection was inspired by dead palm trees. Featuring straw boater, panama, and wide-brimmed hats as well as a “crown of thorns” made from leather cording, the lineup evokes “a sad beach vacation that you have really high hopes for and it ends up raining.” Burris has also been collaborating with NAHM on the label’s upcoming Spring ’13 collection and expanding her brisk made-to-order business (the base price for custom pieces is $700). “I really love doing custom pieces because the women that want funny hats are the kind of women you want to sit down and have a long conversation with,” Burris explained. “Just look at icons like Anna Piaggi and Isabella Blow (R.I.P.), who really paved the way for girls who want to get daring with their headgear. Now with the popularity of street-style blogs, you see that the girls who wear hats and know how to wear them well are definitely the ones getting attention.” Speaking of, we wouldn’t be surprised if we see more than a few of those Tommy Ton stars pop up next month wearing Burris numbers.