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Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow [Hardcover]

Detmar Blow , Tom Sykes
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Hardcover £18.65  
Hardcover, 2 Sep 2010 --  
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Book Description

2 Sep 2010

A life of extreme tragedy and remarkable inspiration, the story of Isabella Blow is a dramatic and compelling tale of a courageous icon.

Isabella Blow was the epitome of English eccentricity. A legendary figure in the fashion world, she nurtured and championed the talent of some of fashion’s most recognisable and important figures, all the time hiding her own personal unhappiness and severe depression. The news of her tragic death in 2007, aged 48, shocked the international fashion world.

Her thirty year career in fashion began as Anna Wintour's assistant at American Vogue, and took in stints as fashion director of Tatler and Fashion Editor of The Sunday Times Magazine. But she is perhaps best-known for the iconic images of her in Philip Treacy's hats, the first of two designers to launch his career from the basement of Isabella and Detmar Blow's house. With similar passion and verve, Isabella enthusiastically displayed her admiration for young designer Alexander McQueen, buying his entire first collection after he graduated from Central St Martins, in a move that many believe launched his career.

Detmar Blow was engaged to Isabella sixteen days after they first met in 1988, and the couple remained married until her death. In this visually stunning portrait, Detmar and Tom reveal the truth about the intriguing world of Isabella, providing incredible behind-the-scenes insight into the world of fashion and high-society, as well as tracing her ancestry and early childhood, offering a fresh and penetrating look at her domestic life, and celebrating her incredible achievements.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007353111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007353118
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


‘Over the years, whenever Issy would call me up to urge me to see someone new, I would do it because she thought it was important.’ - Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief, American Vogue

‘You were a one off, a genius friend, your own creation in a world of copycats and I will miss you for the rest of my life.’ - Rupert Everett, in his eulogy at Isabella Blow’s funeral

‘She was original, impactful, generous-minded and spotted some of the greatest talents.’ - Geordie Greig, Editor of the Evening Standard and formerly editor of Tatler

‘She was the most intelligent and creative person in fashion. In many ways she was the British queen of fashion. She was intoxicating. You could never get enough of her. She was a free spirit.’ - Philip Treacy

‘She discovered Sophie Dahl sobbing in a doorway; she bought Alexander McQueen's entire degree show, and had Philip Treacy design her wedding hat when she married Detmar Blow in 1988 - as well as being credited with discovering Hussein Chalayan and Stella Tennant.’ - Vogue

‘Mourned the world over by an industry that has lost a Muse with whom there was never a dull moment.’ - Daily Mail

About the Author

DETMAR BLOW was born in Stroud in 1963, and was educated at Harrow School and the London School of Economics, where he read history. After leaving LSE, he did a law conversion course and was called to the Bar in 1989. Detmar met Isabella Delves Broughton in September 1988. The couple got engaged sixteen days later, and remained married until Isabella’s death in 2007. Detmar currently lives between Lisbon, London and Gloucestershire.

TOM SYKES is a writer and journalist. He trained as a news reporter on the Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph before moving to New York in 2003 where he was nightlife reporter and gossip columist for the New York Post.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Facinating story very badly written. 26 April 2011
By Rockdoc
I was intrigued by the story of Issie Blow's life. However, this book is extremely poorly written and overly long - often because so many names had to be dropped. Blaise Pascal's 17th Century adage would seem to apply. If Detmar Blow and Tom Sykes had spent more time on this it would probably have been shorter and that would have been an advangtage. And they should have spent more time on proofreading. Don't buy the book, borrow it from your local library.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly moving, funny and tragic story 15 Oct 2010
I cannot recommend this highly enough. I read it in one go (a birthday present from my daughter, also, coincidentally, called Issie) as i just couldn't put it down. It is a marvellous insight into the life of a virtually unclassifiable genius. If you ever doubt how closely genius and sadness are so often intertwined then read it. Issie's husband (Detmar Blow) has done her proud. Whilst in some places it is unbearably sad in others it is screamingly funny, sometimes where it just shouldn't be; read the interaction between Issie and her nurses shortly before she died a truly ghastly death and see what I mean.

It is also full of schadenfraude - if you think your family is weird you ain't seen nothing.

It is certainly not high literature but that's not the point: at the end of it you will certainly feel you know the characters (the great and the good and the downright bad) intimately & what a large and varied cast of extraordinary people.

I'm sure Issie's story will be told on screen before too long & what a film it will make.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wish it had been written better 14 Jun 2011
By laurasw
Loved this book, she becomes your friend and I felt so sad when she died. Her husband pays a loving tribute to her just wish it been written better.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A poignant but irresistible account of Isabella Blow and her madcap and ultimately tragic life, this story is played out against an exotic background of crumbling houses, aristocratic scandals and the bizarre antics of the fashion elite. Fans of Issie around the world will enjoy Detmar Blow's narrative, which is packed with detail and provides a suitably exotic lens on a truly original character. A master of (sometimes unconscious) absurdity, Detmar chronicles how Issie's blend of raucous good humour and depression slowly tips towards darkness, even as she circles the globe at the centre of a glittering social whirl, all the while tormenting Conde-Nast with her outrageous expense claims. Issie inspired immediate devotion on a 24-year-old Detmar, who suffered a coup-de-foudre upon meeting her at a wedding and practically proposed on the spot, and she became the muse of such luminaries as Phillip Treacy and Alexander McQueen. She is bound to captivate the reader of this excellent book also.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars poignant, clever and a wild ride 15 Sep 2010
It's cleverly written and it is salacious and fun. Her life was pretty amazing. I couldn't put it down. Detmar Blow and Tom Sykes are a brilliant double act: searingly honest and perceptive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not good enough 30 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is very well written and when I got it I know it was from the point of view of Detmar Blow but I felt the even if the book it should be about Isabella it felt like it was more about him
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Amazing 29 Nov 2010
By Dylan
I am absolutely exhausted, after reading about Isabella Blow's life. I found it very difficult to put this book down - very easy to read - and an account of an absolutely outrageous lifestyle. I give full credit to Detmar Blow for putting this down in words - a truly harrowing experience for him, in many respects. To anyone with any insight of mental illness, one can fully appreciate how Isabella had this incredible life and how things would get completely out of hand.
I remember seeing an article on Isabella and Detmar several years ago in a magazine. I was absolutely amazed at their fashion style then - little did I realise how their lives were to turn out. Isabella will remain an icon in the fashion world, for sure, always to be remembered and never forgotten.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING & BEAUTIFUL!!! 26 Sep 2010
By ...
It's an amazing and beautiful story of Isabella's life, beautifully written and I will be sad when I finish it, but I will read it again and again.

RIP Issie
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love it, great read x
Published 8 days ago by Maggie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read
Published 9 days ago by richard allen
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book.
Liked this book and, for anyone interested in fashion, a must. Well written and Isabella's character & rather chaotic lifestyle really shines out from here.
Published 13 days ago by ClaraB
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service
Excellent quality book very quick delivery
Published 2 months ago by Julie Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved the book fascinated with her life what a sad end
Published 3 months ago by ANNE BUCKLEY
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and interesting beyond words
I bought this and read it quite a while ago but looking forward to reading again as there was far more in it than I imagined. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Magenta
3.0 out of 5 stars More About the Author
Whilst it was interesting to hear Isabella's story and the sad events that added to her growing depression and ultimate suicide the book also seems to be about the author's -... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Emmabemma
4.0 out of 5 stars very sad
terribly sad true story. would like to read another that shows her other brilliant side. the "up side" of her personality.
Published 8 months ago by EarthHorse
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok ish.
A bit weird, far fetched in places, but I guess that's how her life was, it was entertaining in places !
Published 9 months ago by choccie23
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight to an extraordinary woman.
It's a tragic and fascinating insight into an extraordinary woman and the people close to her. Well written and I recommend it.
Published 9 months ago by Julia Hotshot
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