The day after the closing of New York Fashion Week, Daphne Guinness premieres, and while New York City is still on a fashion high, the exhibition could not have come at a better time.
Currently on view at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Daphne Guinness focuses on the ratified personal style of the heiress, style icon, and patron to various designers. With approximately 100 garments and accessories from Guinness’ personal collection, the exhibition showcases her individual styles. From avant-garde, menswear, and even chic, Guinness is completely unafraid to own some of the most extreme clothes and shoes. But Guinness does not merely collect the clothes, she also wear them.
“People who collect clothes get a bad rep because they’re told it’s all vanity,” Guinness said. Often misunderstood, for the 43 year-old heiress, the art of fashion is what draws her.
"Everything in Guinness’ closet reflects her knowledge of and respect for the art of fashion," Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, said for The Financial Times .
Steele, also co-curator of Daphne Guinness, believes Guinness is the perfect person to demonstrate how fashion can shape real life and vice versa. "It’s impossible not to notice her or the role clothes play in her world," Steel said. "And though she is not the first woman of style to have been honored with an exhibition, she is a rare contemporary subject, relevant not as a piece of social history but as a current force."
The exhibition begins with an introductory gallery featuring some of Guinness’ shoes. Modified Nina Ricci platform boots by Hogan McLaughlin, floral ceramic high heel sandals by Alexander McQueen, and red bejeweled crystal studded heeless platform shoes by Noritaka Tatehana (also worn by Lady Gaga), are just a few shoes that exudes her eccentric style.
The main gallery, spanning from 1995 to 2011, showcases a wide range of designers, including Valentino, Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld, and Alexander McQueen. But, Guinness does not forget to include younger designers like Jun Takahashi and Gareth Pugh. The main gallery, separated into six sections, are each devoted to an aspect of Guinness’ different styles, and each designer helps display them.
The gallery begins with ‘dandyism,’ which showcases Guinness’ admiration for menswear. 'Chic' exudes the simplicity and elegance of classic dress suits, while 'exoticim' showcases Guinness' love for drama. 'Sparkle' has to be the most breathtaking section of them all. With never before seen pieces by Alexander McQueen, like the bugled bead catsuit and the black feathered cape, the garments will leave any fashion enthusiast speechless. 'Evening chic' continues with the theme of elegance, featuring stunning gowns by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Valentino, and Azzedine Alaia. The last section, 'armor' focuses on Guinness' love for it. A jacket and pant ensemble covered in metal nails designed by Gareth Pugh is a must-see.
At the end of the exhibition, Daphne Guinness can be mistaken as an art gallery, but when observed closely, it is more than that. It is about Guinness' sense of individuality and encourages others to find their own.