At last night's fête celebrating the publication of Blow by Blow, Detmar Blow's biographical tribute to his late wife Isabella Blow, we asked Mr. Blow to tell us a little more about the lesser-known side of his wife—particularly her early years in New York. "It was a very important period for her," he said. "Issie loved New York. It was sort of the making of her."
Indeed, the legendary fashion icon known for her over-the-top headwear had quite a storied past rooted New York. Here are some things we gleaned from reading Mr. Blow's account of his beloved wife:
1. Isabella blow came to New York in 1983, where she shared a flat with the daughter of the Princess of Yugoslavia and enrolled at Columbia University studying Chinese Art. The area of Morningside Heights was a pretty dicey neighborhood at the time, though Blow writes that his wife attributed the fact "that she was never mugged or attacked to the wild way she looked and behaved."
2. After dropping out of Columbia to pursue more creative endeavors, Isabella found herself gainfully employed at Vogue in 1984, working as an assistant to then creative director Anna Wintour. Claiming a false education, she wrote to a friend that she had "lied like the devil" during her interview, however it was her eccentricity that left a greater impression on the editor. "People would stop by my office just so they could see what Issie was wearing that day," she recalled. "One morning she might be in full East Village punk regalia...the next dressed like a Maharaja, dripping in jewels and sari silks."
3. A consummate social butterfly, Isabella Blow brought artists and friends Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat into the Vogue offices; both subsequently ended up with assignments for the magazine as a result of the introduction.
4. Andre Leon Talley fired Isabella from Vogue (true story!), the result of a bounced check and a two-week long hiatus from work. "I didn't say, 'You're fired...' like Donald Trump, but I did let her know that this was not going to work," Leon Talley, said. Still, the two remained close, with Leon Talley putting in a good word for Blow at Tatler, where she was quickly hired.
5. Besides her well-known, oft-publicized discovery of designer (and also close friend—as was often always the case with Blow and her contemporaries in the fashion industry) Alexander McQueen, Blow also discovered Stella Tennant for a Steven Meisel shoot. At one point, Blow had said to Tennant, "If I make you famous, I want a bottle of my favourite perfume." In the book, Detmar writes, "A bottle of Fracas duly arrived."