Last entry, I talked about the “be true to yourself and you’ll be fabulous” rhetoric of fashion, and how I believed it. If I believed it for much longer than I should have, the reason is probably Isabella Blow. I’m not privy to any of the shifts in business and politics within the fashion world, and I can’t say necessarily that anything has changed. But it certainly feels like it has, since the days when she was walking through that world, so beautiful and strange. Looking at photos of parties, or the front row of runway shows, no matter how bland everyone else looked, there would be a towering hat somewhere, reminding you that there was life and weirdness in the world.
It’s my birthday today; I remember when she died, a week or two before my birthday in 2007. I felt, with no justification, like I’d lost a distant but dear relative–an aunt or older cousin who I only saw once a decade or so, but who would tell wonderful stories, give me the perfect advice, and tell me to stop acting like an idiot and get to work already. That’s the kind of message I found in her outfits, her hats, her position as fashion’s oddball-empoverished-aristocrat-in-chief. (I love the story of how she bought Alexander McQueen’s entire St. Martin’s degree collection for £5000, but she didn’t actually have £5000 to throw around, so she had to pay him £100 a week for 50 weeks. I always tell my clients that they can pay me in whatever installments they have to, inspired by this tale.)
Like so many people I love and admire, she suffered from depression; and she died from drinking weed killer, after several previous attempts. I hope she’s happier now, and I hope there will always be people out there like her, keeping life strange and lovely.