Tuesday, 7 September 2010


The Sunday Times Style 5th Sep 2010 top photo by Rankin bottom photo by Chris Moore.

For more years than I care to mention I have had a fascination with Isabella Blow style icon, muse to milliner Philip Treacy and the wonder who was responsible for seeking out the wonder that was, and still is in the legacy he has left Alexander Mc Queen.
I liked her for many reasons but one in particular she was a keen advocate for wearing red lipstick which at times was rather haphazardly put on like myself. Which is why I love the photo of her above, if the only way to put it on is a bit hit and miss go for a whole block of lipstick right across your mush.
She was like this wonderful eccentric character who was ever an inspiration when I was doing my fashion degree in the early 90s she was always pinned up on my inspiration board as a constant source of wonderment. She was friends with some of the people you could only just have dreamt of meeting like Warhol and another constant source of inspiration for me John-Michael Basquait. It was only on Sunday morning that I got a small insight into the life of the image behind the photos. Hers is a bittersweet story of a mythical creature of the fashion world, editor of the times style magazine & American Vogue and her immense suffering living with bipolar disorder. That in the end was to lead her to try and take her life many times and eventually succeed.
I have first hand experience of living with my brother who lives and manages his bi-polar and many of the artists that I work with at a project I set up that supports artists living and surviving with mental health issues. I have experience of those highs that make individuals think they can take on the world with energy levels so high , so focused working for days and nights with no sleep on paintings, designs, sculpture with little regard to anything else that is happening in the world. Everybody is unique and individual and manages their illness in different ways, but inevitably after the highs their comes the low, the crash where you sometimes hold on by a finger tip because the now and the future is to painful to consider being part of. Then when the crash arrives there is the decision as to whether you want to manage your illness with medication and therapy or not. Everybody makes different choices, some decide on medication which they feels stabilizes them and they want that balance, others decide not to because it numbs their creativity and stops them thinking clearly. What can we define as clearly? One person's clear can be another persons mud. What I think I am trying to say is that everybody has choices about how they live their lives. It's just always so desperately sad when we loose a character of the world like Isabella Blow as the world will be a little less richer for them no longer being part of it.
The new book about Isabella Blow
Blow by Blow: the story of Isabella Blow by Detmar Blow & Tom Sykes.

Close the book on mental health discrimination www.time-to-change.org.uk/