Lee McQueen and Isabella Blow Acquired by the National Portrait Gallery

Kindred spirits in the claws-out fashion industry is as remote a notion as the return of PVC. But when kismet does strike, it lasts forever. In this case, the triumvirate of David LaChapelle, Lee McQueen, and Isabella Blow—a quartet, if you count the Talking Heads song. London’s National Portrait Gallery is now home to, and showing, David LaChapelle’s Burning Down the House, perhaps the most enduring embodiment of the friendship between the designer and his muse.


First published in Vanity Fair in 1997, the gender-bending portrait was taken shortly after McQueen’s groundbreaking stint for Givenchy couture. Both in full McQueen regalia (plus a Phillip Treacy hat), the two proffer torches and roars of laughter as the ruins of Hedingham Castle burn behind them. One can almost hear David Byrne’s velveteen warning in the distance: You have seen nothin’ yet.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE

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