Isabella Blow is probably best known as being a notorious style icon with extravagant headpieces, but her influence on the fashion world extends much further than what she wore.
Like many influential artists of past years, she had a very colourful life that was tragically cut short. She was born November 19, 1958 in London, England. Growing up, she was fond of playing dress up in her mother’s clothes, which included, among other things, bold hats.
She moved to New York to study at Columbia University in 1979, but left after only a year in order to work for French fashion designer Guy Laroche. She quickly moved up in the fashion world, snagging a job as Anna Wintour’s assistant and then working directly for André Leon Talley, Vogue’s editor-at-large. She became a staple of New York’s fashion and art scene, and was a close acquaintance of American artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Following her successes overseas, Isabella returned to her hometown of London in 1986 to eventually became the style editor of Tatler magazine. While working for Tatler, she discovered the models Sophie Dahl and Stella Tenant.
During her wedding in 1989 to art dealer Detmar Blow, Isabella was introduced to budding hat designer Philip Treacy. The two became each other’s biggest inspirations – Isabella incorporated Treacy’s over the top hats into her outfits, and eccentricity influenced Treacy to constantly push the boundaries on his designs.
In 1993, she went attended the St. Martin’s College graduation design show, and was very impressed with the works of one of the students. She offered to buy his entire collection, despite being barely able to afford it. That student was Alexander McQueen, who is today one of Britain’s most famous fashion designers.
Unfortunately, Isabella Blow was bipolar and suffered from depression, a condition that only worsened once she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After several suicide attempts, she sadly passed away on May 6, 2007 after having poisoned herself.
Unlike many popular style icons, Isabella Blow always preferred the offbeat and outrageous over the simple and clean. Alexander McQueen commemorated her trademark style in his Spring/Summer 2008 show, complete with none other than Philip Treacy hats.