The incomparable Isabella Blow

by Katie on September 2, 2010

“Visionary, conspiratorial, bawdy, inspirational: You couldn’t have invented Issy.”  – Hamish Bowles

This book really touched me when it arrived for my review. 

Isabella Blow by Martina Rink is a glorious and grand testament to the dynamism and personality that was Issy.  A breathtaking collectors book that dedicates itself to celebrating and honouring the life of the eccentric, bohemian and glamorous wonder.

As striking, creative and inspirational as she was, Issy’s true self shone in her humour, her brilliance and her damned down to earth niceness.  As a mere zygote in the fashion food chain in the late ’80’s, as a designer PR underling, I had to deal directly with Issy Blow on a nigh on weekly basis and where, I can truthfully say, she was always so jolly pleasant and polite to deal with:  She made you go the extra mile to get her exactly what she wanted and when she wanted it. The fact that her visionary styling genius was unsurpassed, aside.

Issy was a heroine of mine.  She was someone who strode out, paving her own way, her creativity and distinct take on life and unique insight were an inspiration whether seeing the glossy, often controversial editorials she painstakingly created or coming into contact with this colourful bundle of stardust as walking, living and breathing art.  Her ’40s style Debutante face carved her out inimitably as much as her vivid fashion identity.  As photographer, Mario Testino says of her, “Few people take it to that level as most people just want to fit in.  Issy just didn’t care.  We need another Issy.”

Mario’s right.  There’s been far too many of those with unique creative difference plucked from us in the last year or two: Malcolm McLaren, Alexander McQueen, Isabella Blow, Sebastian Horsley and now, Corinne Day. Can the Grim Reaper just F.O and leave us alone now, please? I’m building a wall around Hilary Alexander, John Galliano, Daphne Guinness, Grace Coddington and Colin McDowell.

Isabella Blow by Martina Rink is way more than a glossy coffee table fashion compendium.  It’s a collection of striking images, quotes and memories, the most heart warming catch Issy off guard and natural where her smile is as large as her personality.  It’s a testimony to her life and her talent that so many fashion luminaries speak from the heart in such honest, touching and emotional words in hand written letters, showing the true loss of a talent, energy and dynamism that cannot be replaced.  Personal reminiscences written exclusively have been collected from legendary names including Mario Testino, Manolo Blahník, Hussein Chalayan, Bryan Ferry, Jürgen Teller, Dita von Teese, Paul Smith, Sarah Doukas and Anna Piaggi to name only a few. 

Of the multitude of images present, it’s the one selected by Editor in Chief of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani that stands out.  Photographed by Steven Meisel, Isabella is framed like an beautiful, dignified and elegant Italian lady.  Draped in black bias, feathers and netting and clutching a small dog, she’s a vision of the past, present and future. 

As idiosyncratic as Isabella, this book rocks.

Publication date:  13th September 2010   Price:  £29.95   Published by Thames & Hudson

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

That's Not My Age September 2, 2010 at 7:43 am

How brilliant that you actually worked with Isabella Blow. The nearest I got was sharing an acupuncturist! The book sounds fantastic – can’t wait to read it.


Cherie City September 2, 2010 at 8:56 am

Brilliant post, it’s great to hear your personal experiences with Issy.
The book is great too, I caught a preview at colette and loved it.
She was one of the last true english eccentrics, long live Daphne!


RedlegsinSoho September 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm

I think this book is definitely on my Christmas List. I saw the one by her husband but it, mysteriously, didn’t have many photographs. This obviously redresses the balance. x


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