To Somerset House for the private view of Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! on Tuesday night. Came, La Farmer and Mr Bowering, Simon, Vicki Sarge, Judith Watt and of course Shaun who invited one and all. Shaun had won the Walpole Award for International Creative Brand the night before (well-deserved) and was looking terribly serious. I suppose as a dear friend and creative collaborator of Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen, the evening must have been a rather bitter-sweet celebration replete with memories.
Don’t you find that whenever there’s a gathering of fashion people it calls to mind Barbarella and the land of the Great Evil where the matmos bubbles unseen beneath their feet fed by negative energy? Perhaps it is my insecurity in this company that makes one feel ever alert for a darting eye or whispered comment into ears behind hands. On the plus side, the exhibition was beautifully and intelligently curated by Alastair O’Neill of St Martins and demonstrated what a powerful good witch Isabella Blow was for her chosen fashion designers, milliners and models.
The mannequins were startling. One in particular modelling a Vuitton fur coat and Philip Treacy black net cloche made my heart skip a beat. The face was Isabella Blow’s and one half expected it to come to life and step off the podium upon which it was displayed. The most poignant piece for me in the exhibition was a fax from her employer the Sunday Times in response to what appeared to be a desperate plea for an expense claim to be paid. Isabella Blow is not the first and she won’t be the last fashion goddess to live on the brink of bankruptcy while the people she championed so fearlessly prospered.
It is of course something of an open secret that Isabella Blow was a sacred monster who terrorised and frustrated her editors on Tatler, Sunday Times Style and Vogue in equal measure. I wonder how many of those people who didn’t pay her, called her a lunatic behind her back and in some cases fired her were at the party glad-handing each other and raising a glass to her memory? Of course it would be folly to beatify Isabella Blow just because she took her life and her talent away. She was a complicated creature but one who also deserved a little more compassion than she was afforded. Which of us is not?
It’s been rather a week for dining out and after Isabella we decamped to The Delaunay; easily my favourite of Christopher and Jeremy’s restaurants with a menu to die and lighting that would do Jack Cardiff proud. Vicki, who knew Isabella rather well, made the comment that she always thought Isabella Blow carried her clothes and maximum millinery with recklessness and ease. Seeing the outfits on display on mannequins made Vicki realise that Isabella was a performance artist and endured extreme discomfort to showcase the most avante garde creations of her favourites.
Is there, one wonders, a pretender to Isabella Blow’s position as champion of extreme fashion? I suppose there’s Anna dello Russo but I would describe what she wears as a ‘get up’ devoid of sex or style whereas Blow always looked unselfconscious and divinely sexy as a result. For Blow, fashion was not fancy dress and you got the feeling she didn’t give a fuck about what anybody else thought. For her imitators fashion is clearly used as a desperate cry for attention and applause.
Speaking of desperation and applause, I had lunch with my glamorous Agent Geraldine at The Rivington for a pow-wow about the new projects codenamed ‘Operation Wolf From Door’. I always love a day with Geraldine. I knew we were destined to be best of friends when at our first lunch and asked whether we’d like a glass or a bottle of Champagne replied, ‘I always think ordering a glass is a false economy’.
What I’m finding these days is that the projects that really put fire in my loins that I think are long shots are the ones that garner the best responses. Let’s face it Rowley, if I thought I’d spend the rest of my life writing about menswear I think I’d hang myself from the chandelier with a Charvet tie. You know my motto of old ‘we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it’ but I have learnt to look back but not stare. As Scarlett rightly says ‘tomorrow is another day’.
Speaking of Miss O’Hara, did you see that Gone With The Wind is back on the big screen at the BFI? I think the Sherwood Massive might have a Christmas outing to see the movie equipped with picnic hampers full of barbecue and mint juleps. I do love a drink in the cinema, don’t you? I remember Lee ‘the Unsinkable Molly’ Brown and I laughing our asses off at a showing of Hairspray with a litre bottle each of pre-mixed gin and tonic. I tell you, our Miss Baltimore Crabs was quite the rage.
Well, what else is new? This weekend I am getting to work on the proposal for ‘Project Carnaby Boys’. My darling neighbours are also loaning me what has become known as ‘the miraculous machine’: an industrial carpet cleaner that’s got more suction than Monica Lewinsky. When I borrowed it last I took a bottle of Chablis over to No 27b with a note that read ‘I didn’t know what true love was before I met the miraculous machine’. Until next time…