Insofar as hats go, this is mild stuff for Isabella Blow, the style icon who passed away in Gloucester, England, earlier today. Blow was essentially a talent scout for fashion; she could sniff out a fledgling designer from twenty paces. Famously, she bought Alexander McQueen's entire graduation fashion show from Central St. Martin's School of Art; her long and fruitful collaboration with Philip Treacy began when he designed the hat for her marriage to Detmar Blow.
There are many great stories about Ms. Blow, her style, and especially her wearing of eccentric hats. She was the kind of person who turns up completely unexpectedly, as she does, exiting a church, in the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The Guardian (U.K) describes many of her hats in the three articles devoted in Tuesday's paper to Ms. Blow. Alexander McQueen called her a "cross between Lucrezia Borgia and a Billingsgate fishwife." The Times has a tad more about Ms. Blow, nee Broughton, and her colorful family: her grandmother claimed to be a cannibal, and her grandfather was embroiled in the "White Mischief" scandal in Kenya that was the subject of an entertaining film. The Times also spends a bit more time talking about the hats. Blow's discoveries brought her notoriety, which she enjoyed, but little money, which toward the end of her life is said to left her depressed; she died of cancer at the age of 48. The photo above was taken in March.
Update: Subsequent stories in the British press revealed that Ms. Blow died from ingesting paraquat, an insecticide, that she drank during a weekend house-party at her home. Her father-in-law committed suicide the same way.
Photo by Piers Allardyce via Flickr.