MENTOR AND MUSE
Stylist Mary Fellowes on her entrée into the fashionable world of Isabella Blow.
“I met Isabella Blow in the early ‘90s, when she was the Fashion Editor of British Vogue.
It was the summer after I turned 15, when my boarding school classmates and I were required to intern for a week.
Most of them were like: Oh, I’m going to daddy’s office; I was like: I’m going to Vogue!
My first day was petrifying. I’d barely been to London, and Issie was wearing a see-through black top, with her bra showing, and a massive Philip Treacy hat that covered her face.
‘Darling,’ she said, ‘We’re shooting with [David] Bailey…’ — I had no idea who he was — ‘…and the actress, Tracey Ullman. Can you call Chanel? They’re doing my fucking head in.’
Later, at the shoot, a weird old man came up to me.
‘Who the fuck are you?,’ he asked.
I replied, ‘Who the fuck are you?’
It was David Bailey.
He looked at Issie and said, ‘God, I love this kid. How the fuck did you find her?’ Issie answered, ‘She’s my new bitch.’
I went back to assist her full-time when I was 20 — Issie was at The Sunday Times Style magazine — and I worked on a project with her, Alexander McQueen, Manolo Blahnik, Amanda Harlech, and Philip Treacy.
One day, I met her at a builder’s café — a super low-key diner — and Issie was sitting outside on the pavement in a giant black McQueen ball gown, Philip Treacy hat, and a pair of Alain Mikli crystal sunglasses. Her breakfast was in her lap, and she had a cigarette going at the same time.
Issie had no grandeur about her whatsoever. You’d walk into her country house — Hilles House, in Gloucestershire — and she’d say, ‘Welcome to Wuthering Heights on a withering budget.’
The first time I went there, Issie was sitting in the great hall wearing a bishop’s mitre and a huge black skirt.
‘Ugh, the drama,’ she said when I walked up to her.
‘What drama?,’ I asked.
‘Well, I poached Princess Michael of Kent’s chef for the weekend. She’s furious,’ Issie said.
‘And now I’m furious because the chef’s chopped his finger off in the blender, so I’ve got to cook the grouse. How do I cook grouse when I’m dressed like this?’
— as told to The Thick