2014 January

ISABELLA BLOW….ACCORDING TO SILVS

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“Reasons to wear a hat. To prevent being air kissed by all and sundry and to provide something to be removed in the act of love making .”

**WHERE TO START WHEN TAKING ON THE TASK OF WRITING ABOUT THE LATE, GREAT ISABELLA BLOW??

I started by reading ‘Blow by Blow.’ A comprehensive and personal account of Isabella’s life, written by her husband Detmar, as well as visiting the current exhibition about Isabella that is showing at Somerset House in London, the home of London Fashion Week.

This touching book made me realise one thing I couldn’t do here, and that was write a complete history of Isabella’s life. There’s too much to fit in anything shorter than the 304 pages that I’ve just finished reading. It is, however, more fitting I thought to pick out some of the moments of Isabella’s life that I found to be really interesting, or at times, just down right hilarious! 

In 1979, the then 21 year old Isabella moved to New York to study ancient Chinese art at Columbia University. She shared a room with the model and actress Catherine Oxenburg, who was later best-known for playing Amanda Carrington in Dynasty. 

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(Above: Isabella (centre) on her 21st birthday, with long time friend, actor Rupert Everett on the left.)

After a year of studies she decided to give it up and moved to west Texas where she began working for French milliner Guy Laroche. This was Isabella’s earliest venture into the world of hats to which she would become so well known for in the years to come. Eventually, she moved back to New York where she became acquainted with the “who’s who” of New York at the time.

She became friends with the artist who I’m sure needs no introduction, Andy Warhol. The two apparently met after Andy spotted Isabella wearing a mismatched pair of Manolo Blahniks at a party. Initially working as a commercial illustrator, Warhol used to draw shoes throughout the 1950’s. He thought this particular mis-matching was a rather daring move, and the pair became good friends immediately. So much so in fact, that at Warhol’s funeral in 1987, Isabella performed a strip tease in front of the whole gathering. Unbeknown to anyone apart from herself and the members from The Velvet Underground present. The reasoning behind it?

Because they knew it would please their late friend…. 

This is absolutely brilliant! 

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(Above: Andy Warhol & Isabella.)

Warhol introduced Isabella to the New York neo expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. (Who designed the record cover to the amazing proto hip-hop track by Rammellzee & K-Rob ‘Beat Bop.) She apparently became infatuated with the young rebel artist, and the three friends would hang out in Russian tea shops eating salmon fish cakes. Basquiat often used to hang around at Isabella’s desk waiting for her to finish work, but reasonably soon their friendship began to fizzle out largely due to Basquiat’s drug use, and unfortunately he checked himself into the infamous “27 club” from a heroin overdose in 1988.  

Isabella was also good friends with Brian Ferry of Roxy Music, and it was through him that she received her introduction to Anna Wintour, fashion director of U.S Vogue and began working as her assistant. It wasn’t too long before she had switched roles within the magazine and began assisting Andre Leon Tally, U.S Vogue’s current Editor At Large. 

Anna Wintour once said when talking of Isabella “I loved coming to the office, because I never knew what to expect. One day she’d be a maharaja, the next day a punk, and then she’d turn up as a corporate secretary in a proper little suit and gloves.”

One of my favourite shoots I’ve seen of Isabella’s work is the iconic 1993 “Babes In London.” Shot by Steven Meisel for British Vogue, the models used were all of the British upper class, set in working class London surroundings. These included Stella Tennant, Plum Sykes, Bella Freud and Honor Fraser. It was supposed to be a reminder that the British class system was still very strongly in existence. 

The image of Plum Sykes in the pub (below centre) reminds me of being young, and being taken to the pub with dad or older brothers, and being as bored as she looks in the picture:

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This image of Stella above, however, is my favourite. It’s like most girls I knew growing up, jumper covering the hands, panda eye make up and parent disapproving piercings.

Isabella’s friendship and promotion of Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy is obviously a well known tale. This is what Isabella said in an interview with Time Out magazine in 2005 on McQueen:

“My relationship with McQueen began in 1994, when I went to a Saint Martins graduate show. I couldn’t get a seat, so I sat on the stairs and I was just watching, when I suddenly thought: I really like those clothes, they are amazing. It was his first collection. It was the tailoring and the movement which initially drew me to them. I tried to get hold of him and I kept calling his mother, but he was on holiday. She kept saying: ‘He’s not here, he’s not here.’ She told him: ‘This crazy person is trying to get hold of you.’ I eventually got to meet him and I decided to buy the collection: I bought one thing a month and paid him £100 a week. He’d bring an outfit in a bin liner, I’d look at it and then he’d come to the cashpoint with me.

It’s such a great story I think, the Lady from an aristocratic background going to draw out cash to give to a fledgling Stepney born, son of a cab driver, fashion designer.

One of my favourite Isabella stories is the day she was on location in Italy shooting an editorial for Tatler with art director Leon St Amour and photographer Robert Astley Sparke. Isabella had noticed that Tatler had never published a shoot with a women’s nipple exposed. So in true anarchical style, she decided to make the shoot “Nipples in Naples.” Isabella insisted that her female assistant should model for the shoot, but she was apparently too nervous to do so, maybe because it was her first day on the job. Isabella, though, was less nervous and stood in front of the camera on the streets of Naples, showing nipples. 

Tatler ran the story, after deciding that Isabella’s original idea of “No Muff too Tough” was a step too far. Below is a great image from this story.

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As we all know, Isabella took her own life in May 2007 after numerous failed suicide attempts and battling years of depression. I believe it was her unwillingness to conform, to constantly be pushing boundaries and constant promotion of young talent that made Isabella one of fashions all time great figures, and of course her unmistakable talent as a stylist.

I will part on Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2008 show, which he collaborated on with Philip Treacy in dedication to Isabella, ‘La Dame Bleue.’

THE ISABELLA BLOW EXHIBITION – ‘FASHION GALORE’ IS CURRENTLY ON AT SOMERSET HOUSE IN LONDON: 20 Nov 2013 – 2 March 2014

Daily 10.00-18.00 (Last admission 17.00)
Until 21.00 Thursdays (Last admission 20.00)
Friday 21 February 10.00-20.00 (last entry 19.00)
Saturday 22 February 10.00-19.00 (last entry 18.00)

Embankment Galleries
£12.50, £10 concessions, £6.25 on Mondays

  

BRING IT BACK…….MARY QUANT’S DAISY DOLL !!

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I asked my good friend, the make up maven that is Kay Montano what product or item from the past that she would want brought back, that she once loved, and can no longer find. She said Mary Quant’s ‘Daisy’ dolls. Here’s why I agree…..sort of……

Mary Quant OBE, as I’m sure you all know, is a British fashion designer who was a key figure in British 60’s fashion. She was one of the designers who took credit for the mini skirt and hot pants. She encouraged young people to dress to please themselves and treat fashion as a fun game. Not a bad motto in my books. 

In 1973 Mary released her own toy doll range, known as Daisy, with the tag line “Mary Quant makes Daisy the best dressed doll in the world.” 

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(Above, Daisy with red hair and yellow/blue tartan.)

And she was! Mary Quant designed every garment that Daisy wore herself, using ‘of the moment’ fabrics and patterns.

Now, what I think should be brought back here, is the idea. Little girls (and some boys) are always going to play with dolls, so why not have them be educated about fashion designers at the same time as having fun? 

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(Above, two variations of ‘Daisy’)

The Daisy doll was predominately sold in United Kingdom, I think it would be a great idea if countries had their own version of Daisy, showcasing their own local homegrown talent, and in turn boosting interest and knowledge about their own designers.

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(Above, ‘Scotch Tartan Daisy”)

Each year a booklet was released showing the entire ‘collection’ that Daisy had been wearing. With brilliantly kitsch titles such as 1975’s “My Exciting Life as a Reporter”, or 1976’s “Im Having Fun as a Travel Courier.”  

I just think there’s more to offer the miniature people who will one day be the future of the fashion industry than just a perma-blonde doll who seems to make little girls more body conscious than fashion conscious. 

And while we’re on the subject of perma-blonde, let’s not forget about the hair on show here! Mary Quant’s own razor sharp haircut was created by none other than the man himself, Mr Vidal Sassoon, and each Daisy too came with her own mane of ‘on trend’ 70’s hair cuts, colours, and styles. 

As as we say here at Moodie HQ….. BRING IT BACK!! 

To have a read of my Q&A from last year with Kay Montano click……HERE.

Loving my new pleasure without the guilt

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Loving my new pleasure ( without the guilt) @rebel_kitchen Chocomylk. Dairy Free, No processed sugar. Thanks to @calgaryavansino for the recommendation. #delicious #dairyfree #coconutmilk #coconutmylk #cacao #nosugar Can’t wait for Orange and Banana Flavours to come out in Feb!

MOODS COMEDY MONDAY – THE TWO RONNIES ‘ FOUR CANDLES’

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The Two Ronnies are probably the most well known TV comedy duo to have come out of Britain. Their TV show aired from 1971 – 1987 on the BBC and at its peak their Saturday night, prime time show was pulling in over 20 million viewers an episode. 

The show featured comic sketches in which Barker and Corbett would appear both together and separately, with the programme feeling like a variety show. The sketches often involved complex word-play, much of it written by Ronnie Barker, who also liked to parody officialdom and establishment figures, as well as eccentrics. Corbett often appeared quieter, but remained an important part of the “chemistry”.

This particular sketch has gone down in comedy history as what’s quite probably one of their most memorable. With such a clever play on words, it shows off the talented and imaginative writing skills of Ronnie Barker plus the duo’s ability to act them out to perfection.

I Know Its Monday But Keep Smiling Everyone!!!

T-HAIR STORY- TODAY ITS BRAD PITT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN !!

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What can I say about Brad Pitt that hasn’t been said before or you don’t know about already. 

The 50 year old, ( yes 50!!)  one half of Brangelina, has probably had more varying hairstyles than I’ve had hot dinners, and here they are in their entirety.

In fact we found so many images where his hair was different, we had to create 4 grids worth of them to get them all in for you to see. 

And who said men aren’t vein, OR that they can’t be stylish for that matter ( well most of the time)??? 

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THINGS WE LIKE- The Healthiest Snacks around right now.

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Back in the 90’s I self diagnosed myself and then was professionally diagnosed “A Chocoholic”. I’ve since been on the eternal search for the most healthiest snacks around so I can enjoy having some kind of treat without all the guilt. 

Here is some of my most recent, favourite discoveries…….

….that are either wheat, gluten, dairy or processed sugar free or all of the above. 

Remember though that like everything else, these should still be enjoyed in moderation. 

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Raw Living Chocolate Crispy Cakes

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Raw Living Chocolate Crispy Cakes- Peppermint.

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My new Favourite, Toasted Coconut Chips- These are sugar free!! 

All of the aforementioned products are available to buy from any good health food stores or at any good online health food site. 

MENS HAIR DONT’S! – DON’T DO IT BOYS!!!!!!!

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THE BLOW-DRIED-BONANZA

Now I’m all for a bit of male grooming but there’s always been those guys that go just that 1, 2, even 3 steps too far. 

Today’s “Mens Hair Dont’s” is all about those guys that overstep the boudaries of blowdrying and gel applying.

I must admit i admire their patience but i’m not admiring their style…… sorry boys, you just need to reign in the styling horse a tad, oh and somebody should confiscate their gel and hairspray too.   

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MOODS COMEDY MONDAY- THE ROYLE FAMILY-MAMBO NO. 5

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The Royle Family is right up there as one of my favourite comedies of all time.

Written by Caroline Ahern ( Mrs Merton, The Fast Show) and Craig Cash ( Mrs Merton, Early Doors,Sunshine and The Cafe), The Royle Family is a BAFTA award winning comedy depicting life of a television obsessed family known as The Royles. It ran for three series on the BBC between 1998 and 2000, with Christmas specials from 2006 to 2012 ……

The series portrays a state benefit dependent families life and has some resemblance to kitchen sink dramas. The scripts contain often banal conversations and most of the episodes take place in the Royles’ home centring around their living room.

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In a British Film Institute list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes compiled in 2000 and voted for by industry professionals, The Royle Family was placed 31st. In a 2004 poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom, The Royle Family was placed 19th out of 100 nominations.

This particular sketch is one of those genius comedy moments where no words are spoken, but go down in history.  The father Jim, and his mate have decided to decorate the house and just as they start to strip the wallpaper with unusual stripping tools, Mambo Number 5 by Lou Bega begins to play on the radio… I’ll leave you to find out the rest by watching the video. Keep your eye open for all the small details that add to the comedy.