From an article by Andrew O'Hagan in the New York Times' "T" magazine:
The outlandish, deeply unusual former assistant at Vogue who became mentor to a generation of fashion designers, editors and photographers, Isabella Blow is the subject of a new exhibition set amid the Neo-Classical splendour of London’s Somerset House.Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! is on at Somerset house from 20th November to 2nd March 2014.
The surroundings are appropriate, for this is not just a show but an acknowledgement of how her sense of style opened the minds of her peers. She is hereby raised into the pantheon, lauded for the very personal vision that once disgusted the establishment.
Blow was eccentric from her top feathers to the paint that adorned her toes. I used to see her at parties sometimes, and she was a fantastically alarming person; when she smiled, throwing her head back, you saw a sneering mouth so red with lipstick that it was like an open wound. She never seemed like just another one of the fashion crowd: she was a visionary who ripened with new ideas every morning, not every season, and was a genuine muse in a world of phonies.
True eccentrics - the Isabella Blows, the Vivienne Westwoods, the Anna Piaggis and the Stephen Tennants, as if there could ever be more than one of each - are the kind of people whose entire existence is devoted to individuality and innovation. That’s what makes a real eccentric: they really mean it, and they’re willing to suffer for it. Their social function is to explode our preconceptions about what beauty is and what good taste means. Eccentrics raise the bar on the impossible.
Yet, unfortunately, there are a few too many fake ones out there now. These are the imitators, the publicity scavengers, the ones who think it’s merely about fame or attention. They seem to be working not from a brilliant fund of ideas or from a conviction that their outer selves must be used to express a fascinating inner landscape. On the contrary, they’re just show-offs who dress up for the cameras. For people interested in our contemporary times, this is an important distinction: the true eccentric gives us more mystery, more wonder about being human, a new side to beauty, while the faux-eccentric gives us less of everything.