31 Reasons Why Fashion Icon Isabella Blow Is The Absolute Best

Before there was Gaga or Dello Russo or wacky street style period, there was Isabella Blow. And she was wonderful.

Celebrate the incomparable stylist’s legacy as British museum Somerset House announces a retrospective of her life and wardrobe.


It will be great.

1. Because she wore feathery headpieces crafted in her name.

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2. And because she once wore a lobster “hat,” Schiaparelli-style.

It didn’t look ridiculous in the least, and there are few people who can pull such a look off without looking like they fell in the fresh fish counter at Whole Foods.

3. An extravagant headpiece became Blow’s calling card.

4. Hats like this.

5. And hats like this.

6. This one too.

8. One more hat, because it’s lovely, and because hats were her thing.

Blow once explained her love of the accessory as a way “to keep everyone away from me. They say, Oh, can I kiss you? I say, No, thank you very much. That’s why I’ve worn the hat. Goodbye.” Now that is a British way to do things.

9. Because that love of hats led to her fervent cheerleading of Philip Treacy’s work.

10. Treacy first designed a headpiece for the bridal look she chose for her second wedding, to art dealer Detmar Blow.

And thus began their long-standing friendship and collaboration. (Also, she wore this to her wedding.)

11. In other words, this might not have happened without her.

12. She’s also widely credited with discovering Alexander McQueen.

Blow famously purchased McQueen’s entire graduate collection for ₤5,000, paying him back in weekly installments of ₤100. She remained a fervent champion of his work, and a firm friend.

13. Case in point: this fabulous David LaChapelle photo.

Yes, that’s McQueen and Blow pictured.

14. She even walked in McQueen’s fall/winter 1994 show.

15. Following her death in 2007, invites to the spring/summer 2008 McQueen show featured a tribute to Blow.

After numerous suicide attempts, Blow (suffering from depression) excused herself from a weekend party at her estate by saying she was going shopping. Instead, she drank weedkiller and was found, collapsed, in her bathroom by her sister. Blow died in hospital a day later.

16. She styled this phenomenal editorial entitled “The Dark Knight Returns” for The Face in 1998.

That’s Alexander McQueen.

And that’s Erin O’Connor and Jeremy Scott.

17. She discovered top model Stella Tennant.

18. And top-model-turned-cookery-show-host Sophie Dahl.

(Blow described Dahl and her curvaceous figure as “a blow up doll with brains.”)

19. It’s time for a few more hats. Like this one.

20. And this one.

21. She could never say no to a nice pile of plumage.

23. She ruled the street style scene before there even was street style, and had more fun with the concept than anyone does today.

24. She once got photobombed by a surprised/amused Suzy Menkes.

Dello Russo et al, take notes.

25. She even wore Gaga’s pink burqa first.

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That’s Blow attending the Christian Dior show during Paris Fashion Week in January 2003; Gaga performing at Philip Treacy’s spring 2013 show at London Fashion Week in September 2012.

26. She made a cameo appearance in the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

27. She sat next to André Leon Talley once when he wore a velour tracksuit to a fashion show.

After starting her career as assistant to Anna Wintour (then fashion director) at U.S. Vogue, Blow spent time as Talley’s assistant too.

28. A McQueen look dedicated to her once covered The New Yorker.

29. She was the life and soul of many a fashion party.

30. And her sense of style remains inimitable.

Shot by Steven Meisel in 1993.

31. Inimitable.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! will open at Somerset House in November, thanks to a special partnership with Blow’s close friend Daphne Guinness, the Isabella Blow Foundation, and London fashion college Central Saint Martins.

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