Tag Archives: Somerset House

Isabella Blow : Creativity in the Self Destructive

29 Jan

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Isabella Blow was an icon in British fashion; creating innovative styling looks, discovering models and designers, as well as serving as muse for top designers like Alexander McQueen & Philip Treacy. The exhibition, Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! is a collection of her wardrobe purchased by Daphne Guinness and is currently showing at the Somerset House in London through March 2, 2014.

The show is a dream couture closet. Mannequins are lined up and dressed in Blow’s astounding fashion archives.  It’s a stylist’s heaven. As much as I loved the spectacular outfits by top designers like McQueen, Julien MacDonald, and Hussein Chalayan, there is an unspoken & disturbing aspect of the show. Yes, Blow is fabulous, amazing, , etc, etc…. but she was really fucked up.  She had multiple suicide attempts, which finally got her when she hit the weed killer. Why does this aspect feel so important to me? Well, first, I love a lost soul…my friends are a collection of lost souls (I say that with the utmost respect and love for them). There is a deepness there that resonates with me from my life experience…& yes I’ve had years of therapy-(which is a different blog ). It just seems that the psychology of the show is screaming to be discussed and instead it’s presented as “Isabella the Fucking Hot Visionary Fashion Goddess”-which has some truth, but instead should be “Isabella the Fucking Hot Visionary with Self-Destructive Behavior that Fuels Her Creative Fashion Goddess”. The exhibit begins with photos of her as child and growing up; an emotional hook that’s not followed through. There is an overt sense of mental illness and/or addiction that could be explored further.

When there is a discussion or even just a viewing of an artist like Van Gogh- you know because we are taught that he cut off his ear and went crazy, hence the O.C.D. brush strokes and intensity of the image. What we know about his personality really elevates the understanding of his work. Fashion is full of fucked up, narcissistic people denying personal demons- and that is what I saw and felt from this show. Fashion-fashion is insular and ego based. Allowing dysfunction to thrive is rewarded. This isn’t a 100% true statement for all fashion people, but if you’ve worked in fashion you know there is a lot of truth in it. I don’t know anything about Blow personally (besides the multiple suicide attempts & she was BFFs with McQueen); but using the theory of like attracts like, I question whether there were structures in her life that supported a healthy mental state. Comprehending this really gives the exhibition a greater sense of awareness into her innovation. Toward the end of the show I felt that everything looked like costumes that conceal emotional truths. The incredible hats & head pieces were true pieces of art, but here they function as symbolic (& literal) masks. I felt like I was sober at a wasted fashion rave…I just wanted to get out of the frenetic energy.

As intense for me viewing the show, I love any show that creates a deep emotional reaction. The exhibit made me wish she were my friend and I could help her somehow, more than marvel at her aptitude. A big disappointment to show was the finale-gift shop. I know museums have to make money but the Disneyfication of museum shows, especially something as cutting edge as Isabella Blow, hampered my experience. They are selling of all sorts of nick-nacks, faux relics and especially disheartening was the Nars makeup section where you can by your very own Isabella Blow inspired make up kit, not to mention you can smell just like Isabella when you buy her favorite perfume, Fracas; all targeted toward the hoards of young fashion student milling around sketching their favorite outfits. I think I may have more of an individual take on this show having dealt with addiction & such, than the majority of the reviewers. I really loved experiencing the fashion but at the cost of a bit of sadness; but such is life.

London Fashion Week: The Exhibitors

21 Feb

I decided to skip a review of the fashion shows and take a look at the exhibitors of London Fashion Week. The exhibitors are the designers that don’t put on a runway show but display their products at the Somerset House venue. This was actually more exciting for me than waiting in a line for a runway show with desperate fashionistas, who are there more to get their atrocious-attention-seeking outfits on a style blog rather than see the fashion show. I really wanted to take pix of these fashion victims but I’m being good and not mean (but I’m sure if you google any London fashion blog you can see what I’m talking about). Back in the exhibition area I was very happy to find inspiring & beautiful work by some lesser known/up&coming group of designers, but relevant none the less. I loved being able to walk around and get a good look at the pieces and most importantly, talk to the designers. This made the experience of fashion week much more enjoyable and personable. I only took a few pictures (I’m so bad at remembering), but I at least got some good stuff.

Let me start with my fave; Amelia Powers. Miss Powers creates with the inspiration of classic Hollywood starlet that is a London socialite that is a supernatural sage. Her bags have a look Edith Head would take note of and that Kate Middleton would (should) be wearing. She loves a luxurious exotic skin (python is a fave) paired with a luscious goat skin lining. Talking to Amelia is like having a conversation with your new best friend and a shaman at the same time…she is a wise old soul ready to reach out to the fashion forward.

Amelia Powers

Around the corner from Amelia is the very well known and talented Stephen Jones. His hats are always stunning & I am in love with this mens beanie w/ attached beard. It keeps you warm & fashionably dashing.

Stephen Jones

On the other side of the room I saw this womens shoe line that was very cool & chic; Alain Quilici. The heel on his shoes are often a wooden wedge with some laser cut work that gives the shoe a sturdy and sculptural look. You could definitely kick some ass in them.  He’s also quite handsome- which has nothing to do with the shoe but it doesn’t hurt.

Alain Quilici

I discovered a Russian designer that I adore; Vilshenko. Absolutely gorgeous, rich fabrics…and lame (accent on the “e”)! I walked by her room & saw a beautiful tall blond model in the most opulent gold lame-patterned outfit. My jaw dropped. I took a pic but it didn’t come out very well, but you get the idea. Beautiful stuff.

Vilshenko

Vilshenko

There were a few others that I really loved but totally forgot to take pix. There is Tim Soar: adept, resolute and elegant in its structure…really nice guy too. Then there was Vassilisa. This is another Russian line that’s a bit ethereal Russian princess meets Givenchy graphic patterning. Sexy.

Experiencing a different side of fashion week was much better without the dregs of self-important fashionistas around and really seeing how much London is bursting with talent.

Check out the website links below:

http://www.AmeliaPowers.com

http://www.stephenjonesmillinery.com

http://www.alainquilici.com

http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk/designer_profile.aspx?DesignerID=1819  (Vilshenko’s website not working but here’s some info)

http://www.soar-london.com

http://www.vassilisa.com