Inside The 'Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!' Exhibition At Somerset House: The Top 5 Things To See

19 November 2013 by

The 'Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!' exhibition, curated by Alistair O'Neil with Shonagh Marshall, starts by exploring the talent that the fashion legend fostered from Julien Macdonald to Philip Treacy. Hamish Bowles described Isabella's work as 'truffling for talent.' In 1992 she attended Alexander McQueen's Central Saint Martins show and bought the entire collection. She paid him £100 per week and received one garment a month. The exhibition then moves to celebrate the beginning of McQueen and Treacy's career, with key items from their Autumn Winter 1996 collections.

Of course an Isabella Blow exhibition wouldn't be an Isabella Blow exhibition without some breath-taking creations. You can dive into her spectacular wardrobe, as mannequins wear full outfits as worn by Isabella, with some real treasures including McQueen for Givenchy, John Galliano for Dior and Viktor and Rolf. There is a Swarovski lobster necklace, the Philip Treacy ship hat made entirely from feathers and a massive Yoshiki Hishinuma red, green, brown and pink plastic wind coat. The collection ends with the Spring Summer 2008 Alexander McQueen collection in collaboration with Philip Treacy which was dedicated to Isbaella after her death. Here are the top things to look out for...

1. Christ Church in Somerset House

[Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House]

Isabella helped McQueen transition from a student to a celebrated designer. She helped present Alexander McQueen's Autumn Winter 1996 Dante collection, which was shown in Christ Church in Spitalfields. In the exhibition McQueen's A/W 1996 collection is presented in a lofty space, with columns and overhead lighting referencing Christ Church.

2. Spectacular headpieces

[Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House]

Isabella Blow was known for her wacky headgear and there is a Philip Treacy elaborate creation at every turn in Somerset House. Look out for the Philip Treacy ship hat, made from feathers only, which was inspired by Isabella taking about women wearing ships on their heads in the eighteenth century to commemorate a French victory over the English.

3. The odd shoes

[Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House]

Isabella Blow once said 'always accentuate the head and the feet,' so there is a section dedicated to her hats and shoes. She enjoyed wearing odd shoes, as when Andy Warhol spotted her wearing a pair of odd Maud Frizon slingbacks he invited her to dinner. Curater Alistair O'Neill commented that she then wore mis-matched shoes in tribute to Warhol.

4. Alexander McQueen for Givenchy Couture A/W 1997

[Instagram: Grazia_live]

Curator Shonagh Marshall from Somerset House Trust told Grazia Daily that her favourite piece in the collection is the Alexander McQueen for Givenchy Couture A/W 1997 satin silk cropped kimono with floral embroidery and feather detailing, as it is such a rare addition to the archive.

5. McQueen's tribute to Isabella Blow

[Instagram: Grazia_live]

The exhibition ends with the streaming of the Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2008 collection, which was a collaboration between McQueen and Treacy and was inspired by Isabella. Highlights include the red butterfly feather hat, the block heels with carved wood, leather and silver beading and the silk and feather Alexander McQueen gown with sculpted shoulders and a dramatic train.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! exhibition at Somerset House, presented in partnership with the Isabella Blow Foundation and Central Saint Martins.  The show features over 100 garments from designers such as Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy. Selected from the personal collection of the late British patron of fashion and art, the exhibition runs from November 20, 2013 to March 2, 2014. 


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