Blow by Blow: A Review


As I mentioned before, one Christmas present that I received was the biography Blow by Blow by Detmar Blow and Tom Sykes.  The story chronicles the life of fashion icon, Isabella Blow, who ultimately took her own life in 2007.  I had not known much about her before reading this book, but I had been interested Mrs. Blow's life ever since I had first heard of her legacy.  I began the book knowing that she was credited with discovering Alexander McQueen and Phillip Treacy, but I had no idea the extent of influence she actually had on the fashion industry.  That being said, I will save my commentary on Isabella Blow for another post, and solely focus on the actual book in this one.

The story opens with Isabella's childhood, and actually goes back a great deal to explore her ancestry.  One thing that immediately became clear to me were the differences between American and British society when it comes to lineage and class.  It was made obvious from the start that family titles and connections are very important in this sector of the United Kingdom, while I have never felt that they held much meaning growing up as a middle-class American.

Detmar Blow goes to painstaking efforts to make sure that the reader knows exactly the types of families that are being dealt with throughout the entire story.  He is constantly backtracking, regaling who is related to whom, explaining connections to royalty, and giving unnecessary history lessons.  This is true not only of Isabella's family, but also of his own.  While a small portion of this information is actually relevant, the vast majority is not.

A recurring theme in the biography, directly related to this obsession with class, is wealth.  While monetary worth is actually very relevant in explaining Isabella's life, there is still a great deal that could have been left out.  Detmar Blow, on numerous occasions, speaks of how his family is not very well off.  However, the Blows do happen to own an expansive country home with a farm (of at least 100 acres, if I am remembering correctly) in addition to a home in London, run in the same circles as royalty and nobility, and have a family member who is a princess.  This speaks volumes about Mr. Blow and illustrates how out-of-touch with reality he is.

Speaking of royalty and nobility, another very distracting element of Blow by Blow is the amount of name-dropping that occurs.  It seemed that at every turn of the page, the author was mentioning a party with Prince Charles, or a dinner with Madonna, where it really added nothing whatsoever to the story.

All that being said, I am glad that I read this biography.  It did have its insightful moments, and it was very interesting to read about the connections within the fashion world.  As Isabella's widower, Detmar Blow probably has the most complete story of his late wife's life.  Unfortunately, although Mr. Blow undoubtedly loved Isabella, he ended up coming across as a very shallow and insecure man.

But I would still say that it's worth the read.


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