life: the tragedy of being blow.

13 Sep

Every great Shakespearean play ends in tragedy, and the life of one Issie Blow was nothing if not worthy of being one of the greatest, complete with skullduggery, villains, and excess of the very worst kind, Issie Blow was loved by many, and an inspiration to many more.

The great Issie, comes to mind again this week as AP. is off to Waterstones tomorrow to pick up the new book, ‘blow by blow’ by her husband Detmar Blow.

Born Isabella Delves Broughton in Marylebone, London, England, she was the eldest child of Major Sir Evelyn Delves Broughton, a military officer, and his second wife, Helen Mary Shore, a barrister. Sir Evelyn was the only son of Jock Delves Broughton; his sister, Rosamond, married Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat in 1938.  Blow had two sisters, Julia and Lavinia, and a brother, John, who drowned in the family’s swimming pool at the age of two. In 1972, when she was 14, her parents separated and her mother left the household, shaking each daughter by the hand. Her parents divorced two years later. Isabella did not get along with her father, who bequeathed her only £5,000 from his estate, which was worth more than one million pounds.

In a career that reads like something straight off a movie script, Blow moved to New York City in 1979 to study Ancient Chinese Art at Columbia University and shared a flat with the actress Catherine Oxenberg. A year later, she left the Art History programme at Columbia, moved to Texas, and worked for Guy Laroche. In 1981, she married her first husband, Nicholas Taylor (whom she divorced in 1983), and was introduced to the fashion director of the U.S. edition of VogueAnna Wintour. She was hired initially as Wintour’s assistant, but it was not long before she was assisting Andre Leon Talley, now U.S.Vogue’s editor-at-large. While working in New York, she befriended Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

She will perhaps be best remembered for ‘discovering’ Alexander McQueen, and the model Sophie Dhal.  Even though the end of her life was marred by the breakdown in her relationship with McQueen, whom she (and judging by the book, Detmar too) never forgave for not taking her with him to Givenchy, or to his own label at the Gucci group.

Perhaps fittingly she chose to end her life (one of many, many attempts to do so) by drinking Paraquat, a weedkiller.  The very same thing that Detmar Blow’s father had killed himself with years before, now that is a twist of truely Shakespearean proportions.

Issie blow was a reformer, an artist and a style icon.  I hope that is the epitaph for a fashion great, not just who she discovered along the way.


2 Responses to “life: the tragedy of being blow.”

  1. ciaralegale September 13, 2010 at 22:23 #

    LOVE this post. Such an odd story, but captivating all the same.


    • amarige panache September 13, 2010 at 23:33 #

      I’m just getting stuck into the book, truly a bizarre life, with a needlessly tragic end. Fascinating all the same 🙂


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