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Isabella Blow portrait by Phil Poynter Isabella Blow portrait by Phil Poynter

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Isabella Blow en vogue

Freitag, Nov. 26, 2010, 15:55

Three books, a play and a movie. Several memorial services. All dedicated to one eccentric person who parted three years ago, Isabella Blow. And the fashion world is still searching for someone new, someone equally quirky with a touching personality for the next fashion generation. In times where stardom and popularity vanish quicker then last season’s collections, and talent and creativity are desirable goods, the task has proved extremely difficult.

A book by Isabella’s husband, Detmar, Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow is out today, while Isabella Blow by Martina Rink, her former assistant and companion, will be released on September 9th in Berlin where Rink currently resides, and later on in London. The third one, Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion by Lauren Goldstein in December, not to mention a theatre play by Jean Grillo staged in New York this summer, and a movie with John Galliano rumoured to be one of the producers.
So now it seems that Isabella’s life – and death – is again in the spotlight, with several people feeling the urge to tell the world how enigmatic and irreplaceable Isabella Blow was.

Isabella Blow, an eccentric British editor, dedicated fashion-lover and a creative, glamorous woman, always pushed boundaries and used her personality as her most offensive weapon. Credited with discovering talents such as Alexander McQueen (by buying his complete first collection and securing him a deal with Gucci) and Sophie Dahl (who, at size 14, was not previously considered suitable for the catwalk until Isabella encouraged her to be a model), Philip Treacy called her a muse. Her status in the fashion industry was a phenomenon too: no show would start without her and her endlessly picturesque display of exotic style in the sea of classic black.

Isabella’s relationship with the fashion industry can be described as profoundly complicated. As Martina Rink, book author, states, “It embodied the most conflicted aspects of the fashion community’s ethics, identity and aspirations.” Throughout her career as a fashion director, editor, contributor and stylist, Isabella Blow often felt misunderstood and simply bored with the daily routine and general lack of true passion that she considered fashion world was going through.

Three years after her suicide in 2007, the fashion industry finally seems to be awake and aware of the influential role Isabella played in sustaining this passion. Martina Rink has brought together letters from all those who loved the enfant terrible – from Mario Testino to Boy George. The contributors list reads as a Who’s Who of fashion, with images from biggest fashion photographers, Rankin and Ellen von Unwerth, illustrations by Hilary Knight and Paul Smith, a foreword by Philip Treacy and a transcript of the memorial speech Anna Wintour delivered at Isabella Blow’s funeral in 2007.

Rink’s very personal and touching tribute to her mentor has even been acclaimed by the ‘competition’, Detmar Blow. She recalls the evening when the book had just come from the printers; Blow’s husband personally congratulated Rink and said he and, more importantly, ‘Issy’ would have approved of the book. A week later, in London, Rink literally bumped in Mario Testino who was very pleased with the outcome too, calling the book “amazing”.

Martina Rink did not know Isabella Blow for a long period of time; the two first met in 2006 in Milan during Fashion Week, where Rink simply had the guts to approach her long-time idol with an invitation for a drink. Isabella Blow replied she would love to but had a dinner with Dolce & Gabbana. However they met later on, and soon the two “shrimps” (as they were known due to their small statures) became firm friends, with Rink helping Blow through all of her ups and downs in the last months of her life.

Rink recalls anger and frustration being her first motivation to compile the book so full of love now. “I felt very angry at the memorial service. It has been frustrating that people did not show much appreciation when Issy has been upset and ill, and they only did once the limelight was on. Only around 10 people visited her in the hospital and when she was ill over her last six months, yet 700 arrived at the service.”

Frustration and anger are not the best companions but very powerful ones. The Daily Mail has been publishing extracts from Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow written by Isabella’s husband of 19 years and Tom Sykes, brother of American Vogue Contributing Editor Plum Sykes. The extracts reveal how, beneath all the glamour and glitz, the “maverick” Blow was crippled by depression, which, ultimately, led to her suicide. The book, due out today, is very personal, honest and deep, and it almost certainly will not be the last book written about Blow.

The fashion world might be a duller place without her, but the stories and the anecdotes about Isabella’s tragic life provide an insight and an entertaining value – all in an Isabella Blow sense.

Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow
By Detmar Blow, Tom Sykes
HarpersCollins, ISBN 9780062020871

Isabella Blow. By Martina Rink, foreword by Philip Treacy
Thames & Hudson, ISBN 9780500515358

Natasha Binar | TribaSpace

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