The Art of Fashion

Some of the best pieces of 20th and 21st century fashion will be on display as part of an exhibition of the collection of late fashion patron Isabella Blow

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If the month of May is anything to go by, there’s no greater time to be in Sydney. Alongside Wool Week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, and Vivid, the Powerhouse Museum, with the support of The Woolmark Company, will present the exhibition Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life

Photo: Foc Kan

Curated exclusively for Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life celebrates the wardrobe of the late British patron of fashion and art. Through her work in publishing – first as assistant to Anna Wintour at American Vogue, and later serving significant stints at British Vogue, Tatler and the Sunday Times Style – and her own well-documented, and often eccentric, outfits, Blow championed a vast number of emerging artists and designers, making household names of Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy, Hussein Chalayan and Julien Macdonald, among others.

The pieces shown in the Powerhouse Museum exhibition are drawn from Blow’s personal collection, which, following her death in 2007, was purchased in its entirety and preserved by fashion muse and patron the Honourable Daphne Guinness. Combined with clippings of her editorial work, photographs and illustrations, the Isabella Blow Foundation, as the collection has been titled, is one of the world’s most significant repositories of 20th and 21st century fashion and related ephemera, providing not only an insight into the creative vision of Blow but also an incredibly rich tapestry of fashion history. 

Wool is a central theme running throughout the exhibition and many of the pieces will be seen for the first time as part of Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life.

“We are extremely excited to be supporting the Isabella Blow exhibition,” explains The Woolmark Company Managing Director Stuart McCullough. “Isabella was a true believer in nurturing talented fashion designers, and this perfectly aligns with The Woolmark Company’s ongoing commitment and dedication to fostering the education of emerging design talents. The exhibition also highlights the historic connection between global fashion designers and the Australian wool industry.” Indeed, many pieces shown in the exhibition are crafted from Merino wool, which points to the heritage and connection between wool and contemporary global designers.

In marking the opening of the exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, Guinness will visit Australia for the first time, appearing at number of public events at both the museum and Westfield Sydney, one of the exhibition’s partners. Other events as part of Wool Week and the exhibition include a special pop-up, curated by the same Powerhouse Museum and UK-based curatorial teams for the Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life exhibition, in Westfield Sydney’s Styling Suite on Level 6 and showcases how Merino wool has inspired the winter 2016 collections of leading designers. Westfield Sydney shoppers will also be invited to ‘meet the designer’ through a series of intimate interviews with the designer. Participating designers include Bianca Spender, Ginger & Smart and M.J. Bale. 

Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life will be on display at the Powerhouse Museum, 
Sydney from 14 May – 28 August 2016. For tickets, visit

[Photo Top] Peter Macdiarmid

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