Valentino admired her style, Naomi Campbell called her a huge inspiration and Boy George said she was what fashion was all about.
Isabella Blow, the eccentric British fashion editor and stylist best remembered for "discovering" and promoting Alexander McQueen, was one of the most influential personalities in the fashion world before she committed suicide in 2007.
Now two competing biographies — one being made into a movie — are telling her story, revealing a little-known struggle with depression and other emotional problems behind a glamorous facade of dramatic hats and decadent parties. Blow killed herself by drinking weed-killer, after repeat suicide attempts. She was just 48.
In some ways, Blow's story resembled a tragic, real-life version of "The Devil Wears Prada," the best-selling book and movie based around a fictional fashion magazine editor clearly inspired by the legendary American Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Like that novel, Blow's biographies offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into the exclusive world of couture shows and designer soirees. And like it, they reveal the darker, cutthroat side of the high fashion industry.
Blow was a true fashionista, and she delighted in shocking people with bizarre headgear and daring clothes. She once wore a still-fishy smelling, crystal-studded lobster on her head to a fashion show, and for her wedding chose a dark purple medieval robe paired with a gold mesh, helmet-like headdress. One of her favorite outfits was a McQueen-designed "bull dress" made of tulle and hide, with a visible hole where the dagger went in and killed the animal. (And this was all pre-Lady Gaga, mind you.)
The mundane and conventional was banned from her life: Wintour, whom she worked for briefly as an assistant, said at her memorial service that Blow not only wore fabulous outfits to work, but cleaned her desk with Perrier water and Chanel perfume.
Blow won friends and allies with her quirky charm, but what really helped Blow's career was her blue blood pedigree. Born to an aristocrat's family, Blow had the most powerful connections to the rich and famous: Manolo Blahnik and Andy Warhol were her friends, and Tim Burton and Princess Margaret visited her house for parties.
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