(L) Alistair Blair in his workshop, 1 November 1981. (R) Harpers & Queen Qulted satin evening jacket by Alistair Blair, 1987. Photo by Ian Thomas.
Having just had one of his dresses published in a monograph about Horst and being part of the Horst photo exhibit at the V&A in London it seems fitting to introduce Alistair Blair to some who might not know him. He has surrendered himself to his passion and continues to evolve within this world. He has survived the fashion wars, countless fads, and trends and seen more and done much more than most. He has been the right hand of some of the greats of French fashion and he has surely earned his PhD in the fine art of fashion ... so to speak of course! (Including haute couture) He outshines many of those who came after him with unrivaled expertise and abilities.
Anyone who is not familiar with Mr. Blair needs to educate themselves concerning what and who made fashion the business that it was in the second quarter of the 20th century. He was one of the young British set who included Bruce Oldfield, The Emanuels, Zandra Rhodes, Tomasz Starzewski and Victor Edelstein and a host of many others who put London on the map at that time. His resume reads like who’s who of fashion and includes Valentino, Lagerfeld, Balmain, Givenchy, Dior, he has dressed British royalty, he has dressed Hollywood royalty and he has dressed the catwalk queens of fashion. To say that he was the “it” boy of his time is an understatement.
Spend a few moments and experience the wit and joy of Alistair Blair and meet a pillar of fashion!
Jeffrey Felner: What is your bliss?
Alistair Blair: An unending pile of snow white paper, pens and pencils
What is your guilty secret?
It’s a secret….. If it’s something that no-one but I can share: I can box!
If you could not be a designer/retailer/etc.: what would you be?
A Shakespearean actor
What’s your advice to the “newcomer?”
1) You must have self-belief and great passion. 2) Look, Listen and Learn. Inspiration is all around you. 3) There will never be another…/the next…/the new… Be original. It may not bring you great wealth, but you’ll be happy.
Who or what is your inspiration/style icon?
Both the Hepburns/Tina Chow. But I can be inspired just as easily by someone or something on the street
What is the best advice you ever received?
Upward & Onward.
In 3 words or less, describe the current state of fashion.
Misogynistic. Drowning. Elitist.
If you won a $200,000,000 power ball (lottery), what is the first thing you would buy or do?
Pay off friend’s debts/mortgages. :) (Then open up a small Couture house where as the designer I would hand pick my clientele.)
If you could invite up to 4 people for dinner, who would they be…dead or alive?
Fashion dinner: Beau Brummel/Coco Chanel/John Galliano/Diana Cooper
Serious Dinner: Elizabeth I/Modigliani/Ava Gardner/Charlie Chaplin
‘Evil’ Dinner: Chanel & Lagerfeld. Marie Antoinette & Joseph Guillotine. Elizabeth I & Casanova
One always feels one has to explain the choices as so many will criticize. Of course there are the Shakespeares, Byrons , Tom Stoppard, Callas & Ghandis of the world but they are, for me anyway, people I’d want to listen to not to have a conversation with. I’m fascinated by my choices and would love to sit up all night chatting & dishing the dirt.
What is the one thing you would change about yourself?
My lack of patience
Whose opinion do you value most and why?
Mine. I do listen to the advice of good friends then usually go off and do precisely the opposite. That way I only have myself to blame when it all goes belly up!
What’s your take on magazines, books versus the internet?
Books,newspapers every time. Internet is too generic.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
Past: I would love to have been with Chanel at the beginning.
Present: Cameron MacKintosh
What is your crowning achievement thus far in your career?
Princess Diana wearing Alistair Blair.
(L) Alistair Blair, 1987. (M) Alistair Blair, American Vogue, September 1987. Photograph by John Cocking. (R) Alistair Blair, S/S 1990.
(L) Alistair Blair, Harper’s Bazaar, September 1986. (R) Elle UK Editorial, November 1986, Photo by Marc Hispard.