Isabella Blow

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Isabella Blow at the Turner Prize (December 2005)

Isabella Blow (born November 19, 1958 in London , † May 7, 2007 in Gloucester ) was a British stylist, fashion journalist and patron . She discovered and promoted numerous fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy , as well as models such as Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant .

Childhood and youth

Isabella Delves Broughton was born the eldest child to Sir Evelyn Delves Broughton, an officer, and his second wife, Helen Mary Shore, a lawyer. Her father was the only son of Sir Henry Jock Delves Broughton, who had to sell the 34,000 acre family property in Cheshire to pay off his gambling debts. Jock Delves Broughton continued to hit the headlines when he was acquitted of the murder charge of Josselyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Eroll, for lack of evidence, and killed himself shortly afterwards. Isabella's younger brother drowned in the family swimming pool when he was two years old. This tragedy disrupted the parents' marriage. Isabella's parents separated in 1972 and the relationship, especially with her father, deteriorated noticeably. Isabella was largely excluded from the line of succession. When the father died in 1993, Isabella inherited only £ 5,000 of the £ 7 million fortune.


She received her education at Heathfield School in Ascot . Among other things, she worked as a cleaning lady to secure her livelihood. In 1978 she went to New York to study Chinese art at Columbia University . After dropping out of college, she worked for Guy Laroche in Texas . Upon her return to New York, she married Nicolas Taylor in 1981 and met Bryan Ferry , who introduced her to Anna Wintour from American Vogue . With Bryan Ferry she should have a lifelong friendship. Isabella Blow achieved her social breakthrough through her work as a Vogue editorial assistant at Anna Wintour, which gave her access to New York artist circles around Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol . In 1986 she returned to London and worked for Michael Roberts, the style and art director at Tatler magazine . After her marriage to Nicholas Taylor had failed in 1983, she had been in a relationship with the art dealer Detmar Hamilton Blow since 1988. In 1989 she met the milliner Philip Treacy at the Royal College of Art . In 1989 he designed her wedding hat in the form of a medieval lace cap and she was to have a positive influence on Treacy's career as his muse until the end of her life. In 2002 Philip Treacy dedicated the exhibition When Philip Met Isabella in the London Design Museum to his mentor Isabella Blow with all the hat designs he has created for her since 1990.

Isabella Blow worked from 1997 to 2001 as head of fashion and style for Sunday Times Style magazine. In 2001 she returned to Tatler as fashion director. Her working style during this time is characterized by provocative and extravagant photo shoots, such as her campaign “See nipples and die”. She worked on photo campaigns with famous and provocative photographers like Steven Meisel .

Three years after the discovery of Philip Treacy, who opened a studio in her London home, she discovered in 1992 at the Central Saint Martins the Master of Arts -Students Alexander McQueen. Convinced of his creativity, she bought his entire graduation collection for £ 5,000 and paved the way for Alexander McQueen to lead him to Givenchy as the successor to John Galliano . Isabella Blow also became a muse , protégé and mentor for McQueen . After his breakthrough in the fashion world, Alexander McQueen sold his label to the Gucci Group at the end of 2000 without offering Blow a position in the new label. This increasingly led to a strong bitterness in her. She worked as a consultant for companies such as DuPont , Swarovski and Lacoste .

In 2004, Blow had a cameo appearance in the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) by Wes Anderson .

Shortly before her death, she worked on book projects about fashion in the Arab world, which were produced by the Kuwaiti entrepreneur Sheikh Majed al-Sabah.

Sickness and death

In the last years of her life, her influence on the fashion scene began to wane. She felt abandoned by those she had sponsored and became increasingly depressed . In particular, Alexander McQueen's disregard when switching to Givenchy hit her very hard. An unfulfilled desire to have children and a marriage crisis in 2004 and 2005 increased the psychological problems. During this time she was diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder . In 2005, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She made several suicide attempts in the following years . She died in hospital on May 7, 2007 after poisoning herself with the herbicide paraquat the day before .

Numerous celebrities from the fashion and entertainment industries attended her funeral on May 15, 2007 at Gloucester Cathedral . She was laid out in a red and gold brocade dress by Alexander McQueen. Philip Treacy decorated the coffin with a black frigate hat . Her long-time friend Rupert Everett gave the funeral oration, the coffin was carried by her godchild Otis Ferry, the son of Bryan Ferry, among others.


Alexander McQueen's model "The girl who lived in the tree" with a hat creation by Philip Treacy (2008)

Alexander McQueen dedicated his 2008 collection, which he presented together with hat creations by Philip Treacy, to Isabella Blow. The invitation cards showed Blow in a McQueen dress with a Treacy hat, sitting on a carriage rising to heaven. Isabella Blow's longtime friend Bryan Ferry also dedicated his 2010 album Olympia to the late fashion icon. The original plan was to auction 90 Alexander McQueen outfits and 50 Treacy hats as well as photographs by Karl Lagerfeld and Mario Testino at Christie's . The auction was canceled after Blow's friend Daphne Guinness bought all of the exhibits. In 2010, shortly after Alexander McQueen's suicide, the Rose Alexander's Issie was presented, chosen by the fashion designer in memory of his mentor. In October 2011, the National Portrait Gallery, with financial support from Daphne Guinness, bought a double portrait of Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen by David LaChapelle from 1996. Both wear creations by the designer himself, Isabelle Blow also has a Philip Treacy hat.

Isabella Blow Foundation

In memory of Isabella Blow, a non-profit foundation has been set up to provide financial support to young British fashion and art students and to help them start their careers. The Foundation has set itself the task of preserving the collection of Isabella Blow's fashion designs and presenting them to the broadest possible public in exhibitions around the world. Another aim of the foundation is to support research projects and charitable associations that are committed to researching and coping with depression and mental illness . The proceeds from auctions and exhibitions, such as the Fashion Galore! -Exhibition, parts of the foundation benefit.


  • When Philip met Isabella (2001)
  • Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House (2013 to 2014)


  • Philip Treacy: Philip Treacy: When Philip Met Isabella . Assouline 2011, ISBN 978-2-8432-3393-7 , 79 pages (English)
  • Alistair O'Neill, Caroline Evans, Alexander Fury and Shonagh Marshall von Rizzoli: Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! . Rizzoli 2014, ISBN 978-0847841721 , 160 pages (English)
  • Martina Rink: Isabella Blow . Thames & Hudson 2010, ISBN 978-0500515358 , 192 pp. (English)
  • Lauren Crowe: Isabella Blow - A life in fashion . Quartet books 2011, ISBN 978-0704372191 , 304 pp. (English)
  • Detmar Blow: Blow by Blow. Harpercollins UK 2010, ISBN 978-0007353118 , 304 pp. (English)

Web links

Commons : Isabella Blow  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. On the death of Isabella Blow: Before the people on guard , accessed on January 15, 2014
  2. a b On the death of Isabella Blow: Before the people on guard , accessed on January 15, 2014
  3. Sü She was lost without a hat , accessed on January 15, 2014
  4. ^ NY Magazine: The sad hatter , accessed January 15, 2014
  5. a b c d e f Isabella Blow , accessed January 15, 2014
  6. ^ The Guardian: Isabella Blow , accessed January 15, 2014
  7. ^ Artnet: Linda Yablonsky: Biography Isabella Blow , accessed January 15, 2014
  8. In Pictures: Isabella Blow's funeral , accessed January 15, 2014
  9. Horticultural Week: Tribute rose chosen by Alexander McQueen will honor his untimely death , accessed on January 16, 2014
  10. Isabella Blow Foundation: Foundation Goals , accessed January 15, 2014
  11. Isabella Blow lauch party , accessed on January 15, 2014
  12. Fashion galore¡ , accessed on January 15, 2014