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There are two competing biographies of the late, great stylist and tastemaker Isabella Blow hitting American bookstore shelves this week, one written by Blow's husband Detmar Blow with Tom Sykes and the other by veteran fashion journalist Lauren Goldstein Crowe. While we haven't gotten our hands on Goldstein Crowe's book, we have thoroughly read the Detmar-Sykes biography, one which has been widely derided as a vanity project designed to "cash in," claims the Guardian, on Isabella's death—the reviewer rails: "This book is to biography what a jar of Chicken Tonight is to cooking."
It's no coincidence that these two books and these authors are being pitted against each other, launched Stateside on the same day (Goldstein Crowe's book is not yet available in Blow's native UK) to stir up controversy. We received an email from Goldstein Crowe this morning with details of her book party in London last night. The email reads:
Personally I thought it more interesting that Detmar's sister and cousin were there as were both Isabella's sisters and her step-mother and a variety of cousins. Also Philip Treacy and Lucy Ferry who didn't attend Detmar's launch. But hey, that's the world we live in.We look forward to reading Goldstein Crowe's book—she is a seasoned journalist writing a thoroughly (and probably more objectively) researched traditional account of Isabella's life.
While it's clear that in the cutthroat world of publishing, coming out on top in competition and sales is hugely important, our lasting impression of the Detmar Blow book—and something we strongly feel is missing from this he-said-she-said media smackdown—is that his book is the memoir of a bereaved husband. That's made more than clear in Blow by Blow with its first-person narrative and anecdotal storytelling style. Any rumors, finger-pointing, fault-finding, and personal grudges aired publicly in this argument over who has the more correct account, we think, miss the point. If it's libel or slander, take it to the courts.
In the aftermath of his wife's death, we'll give Detmar Blow at least some benefit of the doubt. No one knows what happens between two people in a marriage, save the parties involved.
· Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow by Detmar Blow [Guardian]
· Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion [MacMillan]
· Blow by Blow: the Story of Isabella Blow [HarperCollins]