Why Daphne Guinness stopped the Isabella Blow sale

08 July 2010

Daphne Guinness has finally spoken out to explain the story behind her decision to purchase the entire collection of Isabella Blow's clothes, hats and photographs, before the infamous style icon's personal wardrobe could be auctioned off at Christies.  

Daphne and Isabella Blow became friends, not just as a result of their similar roles in the world of fashion, but also because of their similar backgrounds. Not only were they both raised in English aristocratic families and boarding schools, but Isabella’s grandmother, Vera Delves Broughton, and Daphne’s great-grandfather, Walter Guinness, Lord Moyne “had been very much an item for years.”  

The pair were seemingly so close that Daphne says her feeling after Isabella’s death was “fury at what was, to me, the most tragic loss, [which] is something I cannot, even now, describe” and that the fact that her friend's possessions were due to be auctioned off to pay the debts on her estate was ‘the last straw’ for Daphne who was horrified at the thought of the unparalleled collection being sold off in bits and pieces.   “Indeed, in many ways, the auction would not be merely a sale of clothes; it would be a sale of what was left of Issie . . .the planned sale at Christie’s could only result in carnage, as souvenir seekers plundered the incredible body of work Issie had created over her life: the hats she wore every day and had made in duplicate; the laser-cut black leather dress Alexander McQueen had made her; the shocking pink Jun Takahashi burka.”  

Phillip Treacy and Daphne Guinness at Isabella's memorial service in 2007

But it was close mutual friends in the fashion industry who helped Guinness come to the conclusion that she should buy up the entire auction “I called Philip Treacy, Issie’s great friend and collaborator, and it turned out that he had been extremely concerned, and when I asked him his opinion of my plan, he was terribly relieved. I called Shaun Leane, another trusted friend, and he gave the same response. I called Amanda Harlech; I called David LaChapelle; it was all just to see if I was being disrespectful in any way but the consensus was unanimous: do it”  

AND – what we all want to know is – what will happen to the collection now? Daphne hints, rather than outlining concrete plans, saying – “I want – we want  . . . this unique collection, to be kept whole; it is like a diary, a journey of a life, and a living embodiment of the dearest, most extraordinary friend [and] to allow people (whether students, lovers of fashion, historians) to remember her and benefit from her legacy. Maybe we will be able to visit the Museum of Isabella Blow, or as Daphne would have it, “Isabella Blow’s Work of Art” after all.

FInancial Times


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