For Isabella Blow, almost any subject was perfect fodder for one of her larger-than-life hats — be it chinoiserie or crustaceans. Nothing was, seemingly, off limits.
With a balls to the wall outlook on fashion, she was usually spotted wearing a statement hat, a smoky eye, a bright lip and an avant-garde outfit — all at once. And she has served as both muse and mentor to some of fashion’s most influential individuals, most notably her dear friend milliner Philip Treacy and designer Alexander McQueen.
Blow’s fashion resume began when she moved to New York from England to study Ancient Chinese Art and befriended the likes of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. But she was drawn to the world of fashion and managed to snag a job with Guy Laroche after she dropped out of school and later began a stint at American Vogue as the assistant to Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley. She eventually moved back to London and took at job at Tatler magazine. However, what most fans of fashion know Blow for is her discovery and patronage of first Philip Treacy and then Alexander McQueen. Blow played muse to both designers and was hardly ever seen without a Treacy creation atop her head. She famously purchased Alexander McQueen’s entire graduate collection and continued to nurture the designer his entire career, even despite her disappointment that he had never given her an official appointment as he ascended into fashion super stardom.
Sadly, Blow committed suicide in 2007, but her signature spin on fashion still lives on. Most notably now in the likes of Lady Gaga.
With a closet full of zany outfits, each more crazy than the last, Lady Gaga has drawn inspiration from Blow since her career began. Every headpiece, off-kilter glove and head-scratching outfit seems to be pulled straight from the Blow archives and tweaked by her design collective, the Haus of Gaga. When Gaga stepped out wearing a sparkling lobster, however, we all saw the direct inspiration. Blow herself was photographed wearing a Treacy hat and a bejeweled crustacean, though each lady had her own spin on the lobster-as-accessory.
Not everyone is fan of Gaga’s take on Blow’s iconic look, however.
“I’m so happy she’s continuing to make an impact,” said Detmar Blow, Isabella’s husband, in an interview with the Daily Mail, “Although she’d be infuriated by Lady Gaga because she didn’t want anybody to look like her. For Gaga, the clothes are a costume, but Issie wore them all the time.”
We’re sure Gaga, who’s made no secret of Isabella’s inspiration, sees the connection as running much deeper. She told Vogue in a 2011 interview that she felt “embraced by this London cultural movement, the McQueen, Isabella [Blow], Daphne Guinness wing of the English crowd.” But imitation was only part of it. Said Gaga, “When I first started doing photo shoots people would say, ‘My God, you look so much like Isabella Blow, it scares me.’ And McQueen used to say, ‘Oh, my God, your boobs!’ He actually grabbed both of them and said, ‘Even your boobs are like hers!’” Now, we have never felt up either Lady Gaga up or Isabella Blow, but we do agree that certain profile pics of the singer offer a hauntingly similar resemblance to Blow.
It also seems that Lady Gaga has even expressed interest in interning at Philip Treacy’s atelier, and though he stated to the Guardian that he’d love to have her in his studio, her busy schedule has kept her from putting in her intern hours under Treacy’s tutelage. She may not have the time to work on creating new hats, but fashion fanatics know that she’s pulling from a rich archive every time she steps out wearing a Blow-inspired ensemble.
Photos courtesy the Daily Mail, Vogue and Style.com