Isabella Blow was an English magazine editor and international style icon. The muse of hat designer Philip Treacy, she is credited with discovering Stella Tennant and Sophie Dahl as well as the fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
Despite her extravagant habits and careless manner, Isabella was shortchanged from the very start. Her wealthy businessman father bequeathed the young Issie only £5,000 from his estate, which was worth more than one million pounds at the time of his death. Her life as a penniless aristocrat was set in motion.
After she discovered, nurtured and helped broker a multi-million dollar deal with Gucci that would make Alexander McQueen wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, she walked away without a cent or even a job title. It’s no wonder the flamboyant creative oscillated between feeling like the Queen of England and a starving pauper.
For those lucky enough to witness Alexander McQueen’s ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY this summer, spare a thought for the visionary Blow, who used all her spare pennies to purchase McQueen’s entire graduate collection for 5000 pounds, which he handed to her in plastic garbage bags.
Towards the end of her life, Blow had become seriously depressed and was reportedly anguished over her inability to “find a home in a world she influenced”. Daphne Guinness, a friend of Blow’s stated, “She was upset that Alexander McQueen didn’t take her along when he sold his brand to Gucci. Once the deals started happening, she fell by the wayside. Everybody else got contracts, and she got a free dress”.
On May 6, 2007, during a weekend house party, Blow announced that she was going shopping. Instead, she went home and committed suicide on a bathroom floor. True to her spirit, her coffin was made of willow and was surmounted by one of her flamboyant Philip Treacy hats instead of a floral tribute.
Text by Howard Collinge- The Unique Creatures