Hats off to Issy Blow, Fashion Galore indeed!

I feel hungover today. Not from el vino mind you, though it is the festive season in one of the drinking capital of the world. No, I think it’s intoxication of the inspirational kind. You see, I went to see the new Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore exhibit at the Somerset House, London with a friend last night. And she was a living, breathing, walking work of art. Along with  live beautifully lived, if cut a bit too short.

me-and-issy

Issy Blow will not everyone’s cup of tea, but she represent such a unique British spirit. A bit aristocratic and eccentric, a heady mix of tradition and punk (in the same vein that Vivienne Westwood is too). Think Lady Gaga, but much more pervasive, seeping deeper into the pore of life. She is a truer heir to the surrealists like Schiaparelli. Though she’s a fashion editor rather than a designer, her discoveries and collaborations extends to her everyday and not just for shows and events. You feel she’s not just out to shock and impress others, but that she really enjoy her outfits and bringing them to life.

And I love how irreverent she can be with those priceless masterpieces of fashion too. I hate it when art is contained, treated preciously, starved of air. (In my youth when I was buying the occasional designer pieces I had similar attitude, wearing them to the painting studio, and yes once or twice gotten oil paint on them.)

The exhibit is of the extraordinary designer clothing, hats, and shoes she owned. They were going to be auction off to pay inheritance tax. But her friend and wealthy heiress Daphane Guinness halted the auction and bought the entire collection. She and other friends of Issy Blow put together this fabulous exhibit.

The collection famously contain Alexander McQueen‘s first collection from his fashion degree graduation show. And there are quite a few exquisite pieces by McQueen, who apprenticed with the fine tailors of Savile Row before getting his degree from the famous Central St Martin. I love his deconstructed tailored looks.


There’s a room full of the finest pieces from his Dante’s Inferno themed Autumn/Winter 1996 show. I wanted to take pictures for design and sewing inspirations, but was told off when the guards caught me after this one and only shot 🙁

mcqueen-aw-1996

I’m seriously considering paying another £12.50 to see the show again and bring along a sketch pad to note down all the inspiring details.

My friend doesn’t sew, so was more into the outre hats. Here are a couple of photos she managed to sneak in before being told off too. Stingy guards!

hat1hat2

There are more photos to be found here:

The exhibit is on until 2 March 2014. I highly recommend it. And hopefully it’ll travel to other edgy fashion capitals of the world, like NYC!

In the meanwhile, I must be off hunting for the best books on Issy Blow and Alexander McQueen! I feel so inspired to sew and make art, even if my everyday life can’t be as glamorous as theirs!

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3 comments on “Hats off to Issy Blow, Fashion Galore indeed!

  1. This was the great regret of last year, that I could not get to see this show. I am very glad you did. I did hear that sketchbooks were also not allowed (sketchbooks? What is this world coming to?). Thank you for breaking the rules for me! I am hoping this travels to my continent someday. Ms Blow is one of my heroes.

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