Daphne Guinness in a vintage Armani Privé gown. Photo by David Bailey.
That is some couture collection Daphne Guinness has.
Yesterday marked the opening of Daphne Guinness, at The Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, on view until January 7, 2012. The exhibit highlights the couture collection amassed by Ms. Guinness, one of the heirs to the Guinness brewing fortune, and includes approximately 100 garments and accessories, as well as short films by and featuring Guinness herself.
Ensemble by Alexander McQueen, featuring a gorgeous iridescent cape.
Heelless platform shoes made of red crystals and gold medal studs by Noritaka Tatehana.
Organized into six sections, “Dandyism,” “Armor,” “Chic,” “Evening Chic,” “Exoticism,” and “Sparkle,” the show, co-curated by Guinness and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, offers a look into the never-ending fashion fantasy the combination of money and a profound love of the artistry of couture can create. For those who missed the exhibit Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, you can consider this McQueen Redux, since there are many pieces by the late designer, a close friend of Guinness, a dozen of which have never before been displayed.
From the “Armor” section, two sculptural dresses by the late British designer Alexander McQueen.
The exhibition’s design, by Ken Nintzel, is inspired by Guinness’s New York apartment, and from it I can only assume there must be mirrors everywhere in her house, reflecting her look from every angle. Suspended above all is the animated image of Guinness in a silvery catsuit, crowned with a diadem, a Statue of Liberty for the fashion-obsessed.
From the “Dandyism” section, with a focus on tailored pieces, blue jacket by Dior, black jacket by Daphne Guinness and pants from a London punk shop.
From the “Armor” section, dress and hooded cape of slashed metallic foil by Gareth Pugh, and heelless platform shoes of black patent leather by Natacha Marro.
From the “Armor” section, jumpsuit and modified Nina Ricci boots of brown leather and rhinestones.
Most of the pictures I see of Guinness in newspapers and magazines make her seem more the mother of Lady Gaga than the mother of Stavros, Alexis and Ines Niarchos, her three children by her ex-husband Spyros Niarchos, a Greek shipping billionaire. But in the quieter sections of the exhibit, “Chic” and “Evening Chic” especially, you learn the more extreme outfits Ms. Guinness veers toward, which garner the most attention, also have a counterpart: elegant clothing owned by a woman who appreciates the excellence couture provides—the best design, the best materials, the best workmanship. For those of you not inclined to wear, say, a leather catsuit with molded shoulders, you may find yourself understanding (and falling in love with) aspects of Guinness’s aesthetic in these sections of the show. Or maybe that’s just me and the fact that I am a mother myself. Catsuits I don’t understand. Catsuits I don’t do. But a gorgeous black dress with lace inserts by Alaïa? I’m so there.
From the “Chic” section, black dress with lace inserts, white eyelet dress with leather belt, both by Azzedine Alaïa.
From the “Evening Chic” section, a black Chanel dress and a pink Dior gown.
In the “Sparkle” section, a Chanel jacket of ivory sequins on silk net and white feathers.
From the “Sparkle” section, catsuit and cape by Alexander McQueen, made of gold and bronze bugle beads and sequins on silk net, cape of black feathers.
Because so many designers are on display in this exhibit, from McQueen to Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, from Christian Lacroix to Valentino (and many others), for anyone wanting to get up close and personal with couture, this show is not to be missed.
Best of all, admission to the show is FREE.
A book accompanying the exhibit, Daphne Guinness, written by Valerie Steele and Daphne Guinness, will be available for purchase in October. All royalties from sales of the book will benefit the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Come back soon, my next post will cover the remarks given to the press by Ms. Guinness and Ms. Steele, including a question posed to Daphne by me!
From the “Exoticism” section, two Japanese-inspired dresses and chopines by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy.
The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue and 27th Street
New York NY 10001-5992
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: Noon-8PM
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and legal holidays
Admission is free