Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore (Event)

“Five days before she died she said she felt she didn’t matter anymore. This exhibition proves her wrong – she’s always going to matter now”

– Philip Treacy

Head to toe in swathes of immaculate flesh-tight black that cascaded into a delicate train behind her, The Hon. Daphne Guinness effortlessly glided over to me in her gravity defying heel-less shoes with a lightness of grace I had never quite witnessed in another human being. Her personal hairdresser followed, teasing that trademark platinum blond and jet black duality into finalized perfection with two precise sprays of hair lacquer and a theatrical poke of his comb.

“Pint โ€˜o Guinness!” she said disarmingly, pointing to her iconic pompadour up-do. I felt I laughed a little too hard at this, composing myself to say, with as much plausible calm as I could measure, “Oh, my god. You look STUNNING, Daphneโ€ฆ”

David Barron and The Hon. Daphne Guinness 2013

Her skin was translucent, glowing from within and as flawless as cream silk draped taut and pore-less upon her light bones of delicate porcelain and she brimmed with heady emanations of patchouli and tuberose as she came to rest at my side, cupping my elbow and lowering her gaze with an inquisitive peer at the picture I held in my hand.

My grandfather – Eryck Barron

I was holding my grandpaโ€™s image pressed against my wallet by a clammy thumb, when I looked into the eyes of she whom I now considered a friend – there exists you see, a particular brand of adoration for a Rara Avis, that in the flesh, can unhinge even the hardest to impress of any neatly put together gay man. Yes, it was she whom I now held in such regard as to be the most inspirational person to have touched my wonder and hopes since my grandfatherโ€™s agonizing death years ago.

London, I must confide, had thus far been the intimidating seat of my lifeโ€™s greatest and most cruel tormentors. Yet now Daphne filled my hopes with a renewed faith, pure as a child honing his truest wishes onto a polished penny destined for the bottom of a wishing well – with a belief in a magical realism that was absolute and spellbound.

“Best thing about London?” she said, ‘is getting the hell out of here.’

Quite the reassurance then…

David Barron and Daphne Guinness

The evening ahead was to honor her late friend, the legendary editorial fashion maverick and aristocrat, Isabella Blow, who had adorned, edited or featured across all the magazines to have carried my coffee cup rings and daydreams since I first came to know of her, through The Sunday Times Style Magazines of the late nineties – where I wrote to my crush and writing inspiration, AA Gill, telling him all about my Cheshire frolics and pretensions, asking my favorite critic and good pal of Joan Collins, why he rarely reviewed anywhere outside of London.

He didn’t reply direct – instead he took Jeremy Clarkson on a road-trip there, to rip the piss in the Culture supplement. Letting me know, ‘Joan Collins is just an actress’ which was humiliating in the extreme having opened up in writing – but a thrill non the less. He was, and still is – my favorite writer, wit and style, even if he thought me as mad as a hatter, for I was but a tender 20 years old.

“”Itโ€™s easy to mock Cheshire, but then thatโ€™s hardly a reason not to. Cheshire is mock everything: mock gentility, mock Tudor Gregorian, mock family, mock style, mock casual and mock happiness. Every garden gnome, carriage lamp and novelty door chime here has been earned, if not entirely paid for. This is Hello! Country, Posh-and-Becksville, Cheshire twinned with Dynasty, a faux Florida with rain.” – AA Gill

Anyways, 33 now and still being very un-London and having never had the wallet, inclination or indeed any notion of what to wear when asked to escort a global fashion icon to the launch of her own star-studded exhibition of Isabellaโ€™s couture – I thought only to hire a groomsmanโ€™s suit from a wedding supplier, and bull shine some old leather shoes.

It must have worked. Daphne complimented its stitching and silhouette, which placed me at ease a degree whilst my heart pulsed ferociously for the significantly terrifying night ahead, of chaperoning my empress to the private launch of โ€˜Fashion Galoreโ€™ at Somerset House, London —- and what better way to celebrate Issie’s supportive and authentic and pioneering personality, than with a new foundation in her name? Set up on the very day she would have turned fifty years old. Just marvelous!

Indeed, we had bonded over music, high art and a sense of being an alien in this world, and I was there to help Daphne celebrate the life of her friend Isabella Blow. To honor her inimitable and authentic personality and influence on the worlds of fashion, art, and style that we both so loved, except I was no longer a spectator.

โ€˜Thank you for everything, and for being my friend.โ€™ I said stood there, awake inside a dream, โ€˜you canโ€™t know what it means to me, Daphne! Not with the horrors Iโ€™ve endured.โ€™

“I am not a flakeโ€ฆ” she said, “and besides, my friend, this is only the beginning.”

Taken with David’s iPhone
Taken with David’s iPhone
Fashion Galore! Isabella Blow
Daphne, tender inspiration and friend
David’s iPhone
Fashion Galore! Isabella Blow
Daphne, working her magic.
Taken with my iPhone
Fashion Galore! Isabella Blow
Taken with David’s iPhone
Fashion Galore! Isabella Blow
Isabella Blow’s Pink Burka
Grace Jones and Philip Treacy
Taken with David’s iPhone
Fashion Galore! Isabella Blow
Taken with David’s iPhone
Fashion Galore! Isabella Blow
Daphne in conversation with Liberty Ross ahead of the gracious Mary J Blige.
Taken with David’s iPhone
Grace and Philip

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!


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