Isabella Blow Exhibit
One of my favourite things about living in London would have to be the museums and galleries. I’ve only been here for a month but I swear I’ve been to almost all of them. The V&A, the Natural History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the Hayward Gallery – I could keep going.
Early this week I visited Somerset House to see the Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! exhibition and had the chance to fall in love with Izzy all over again. Although I’ll admit the crowd that I had to face there was quite frustrating, particularly the group of fashion students turning their noses up at Hussein Chalayan’s rusted nail dress. ‘Ewwwww its so dirty! Why would anyone want to look poor and dirty,’ cried one, completely missing the point of how such a dress became rusty in the first place – he buried it under the ground with rusty nails, experimenting with the beauty of decay.
Yes apart from the nails-down-a-chalk board conversations I overheard, the exhibition really was fantastic, giving the public an opportunity to walk through Isabella’s extraordinary life from her childhood at Doddington to her unique and odd-shoe approach to fashion, to her work at Vogue, The Face, The Sunday Times and influence over numerous designer’s careers, most notably Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy.
Treacy’s hats were incredible to see up close, and the magical displays, particularly the under-the-sea themed one which featured Treacy’s famous ship hat made entirely of black feathers, were a standout. If I could I would have loved to have taken a photo of the scene but photography inside the exhibition was banned – probably for the best anyway. It would have hurt me to see people experiencing these clothes through the lens of their phone rather than their eyes.
While I really enjoyed seeing video interviews with Isabella, gaining incite into her personality, my absolute favourite part of the exhibition was the display of McQueen’s and Treacy’s spring 2008 tribute collection to Isabella following her untimely death. The garments were also accompanied by the full video of the presentation. I know it’s very un-fashion to look back, but this collection was truly one of the best I think I’ve ever seen. Both strong yet feminine, sculptural yet delicate, bright yet dark, vintage yet modern, it was full of contrasts yet all came together seamlessly to hit a fantastic note. It was really incredible to re-visit the collection but at the same time also very sad. As if Isabella’s life wasn’t sad enough, what we know now that we didn’t know then is that it would be not only one of McQueen’s best collections, but also one of his last.
Isabella Blow: Fashions Galore! will be on display at Somerset House until March the 2nd.