The late style-arbiter Isabella Blow had an uncanny eye for the next big designer, famously buying Alexander McQueens first collection one item at a time until she owned it entirely. This September, Christie’s will celebrate her partnership with McQueen and the over-the-top milliner Philip Treacy in an auction of her outrageous wardrobe. The September 15 London sale will feature 90 McQueen pieces, 50 hats by Treacy, and shoes by Manolo Blahnik though details have not been released about the specific pieces heading to auction.
The former Vogue and Tatler editor’s sense of humor was a driving force in the fashion industry. She shrouded herself in Treacy’s huge, surrealist hats, which obscured her face, functioning as both mask and helmet. (In an indication that his style retains currency, Lady Gaga has reportedly asked him for an internship). Where some of Blow's choices may seem on the cutting edge of bad taste for some, she owned her style in a way that few have been able to since.
As Vogue editor Hamish Bowles told New York magazine, she once wore a necklace that read “Blowjob” to a party at the estate of the Princess Michael of Kent. On the tamer side of idiosyncratic dressing, she first met Andy Warhol in mismatched Manolos. (He asked if she had to buy two pairs.) Like the late Vogue editor Diane Vreeland, she was also given to absurd pronouncements like, “I do just love breasts — they’re so old-fashioned” and “There’s no point clomping around like a duck in flat shoes."
But for all the gregariousness, Blow suffered from crushing depression. In 2007, at 48, she took her life by drinking weedkiller. She was buried in red-and-gold brocade McQueen. Tragically, this past February, the young designer also committed suicide.