Showing posts with label Daphne Guinness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daphne Guinness. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


With Jane and Ben and their dog Fern
A friend recently emailed to say, "I need a Jane hit on the blog," and I replied, "Me too." It is always fun for me to see my niece and my nephews. Jane is now almost 14; when I started this blog she was 10 so she is growing up in photos. Jane likes art and fashion too so I met her at the Daphne Guinness show at F.I.T. at West 27th Street. I really enjoyed being there again. What struck me on this visit is the styling of the show; I think almost every outfit is accessorized with a bit of velvet ribbon, an old heirloom"diamond" brooch. Daphne wears very modern clothes but the way she styles them with her ribbons and diamonds make the clothes look romantic and timeless. In the dandy tailored section of the show, I noticed Daphne's quote, "There is a lot of cross-dressing in Shakespeare. I'm inspired by that." At the press preview, she had said she is most inspired by literature, and what the characters would be wearing.
Jane and I stopped for a bagel and then proceeded on to the Flea Market Garage on West 25th Street.
We strolled around the two floors of flea market vendors. One vendor was selling an old rotary telephone. Jane picked it up and said, "How does this work?" As we were leaving the second floor, Jane spotted some suede zip-up moccasins with fringe around the ankles. They fit her perfectly

so I bought them for her birthday. She has a good eye.
Then we schlepped down to West 17th Street to some more of my vintage store haunts – Pippin Vintage Home, Angel Street Thrift Shop, and Housing Works. At Pippin Vintage Home I ran into some friends, and also ran into a friend at F.I.T. It reminded me of when I was young and my uncle Brian, my mother's brother, took me on trips and excursions. He always ran into someone he knew, which was fun, whether it was at the Albany museum or on a bus in a snow storm or at the Utica Club Brewery. Brian, who is an attorney in the Albany area, often took my brother Thom and I on adventures – there were outings to the local fire department in Ridgewood, New Jersey, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the offices of the Albany newspaper. He was the first person to take me on an airplane trip. A great uncle. He is my model in this department.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Daphne Guinness Press Preview at F.I.T.

Daphne Guinness book cover, photo by Kevin Davies. Book available from Yale University Press in November.

I had the pleasure on Friday of attending the press preview for the Daphne Guinness exhibit which opened that day at the Fashion Institute of Technology at Seventh Avenue and 27th Street. You know Daphne Guinness – she is the fantastically creative style icon who inspires designers and brings their clothes to life, and also has forged her own signature look which is completely original. Daphne Guinness is an artist and her medium is clothes. This exhibition of her personal wardrobe was co-curated by Ms. Guinness and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, and includes 100 garments and accessories from the icon's personal collection, plus films, videos and images of and by her. It's up until January 7, 2012 and admission is free.

Daphne Guinness was born in 1967 to Jonathan Guinness, 3rd Baron Moyne, and his second wife Suzanne Lisney. Jonathan himself is the son of Bryan Guinness and...wait for it...Diana Mitford of the renowned Mitford sisters. The Guinness family of Ireland of course is known for its accomplishments in banking, politics, and dark beer brewing. Daphne married Spyros Niarchos, son of Greek shipping billionaire Stavros Niarchos who was famously the business rival of Aristotle Onassis. Daphne and Spyros had three children and were divorced in 1999.

Since then she has become renowned in the world of fashion for her personal style and knowledge of fashion. She was great friends with English talents Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, who both have tragically committed suicide. Her extremely romantic and imaginative style is a joy to see and I was looking forward to the exhibition at FIT.

When I am attending a press preview, I tend to rush in and circle around to try to take in the whole thing at once. Gradually though I slow down and the clothes begin to speak. The museum gallery space down in the basement level was designed by Ken Nintzel and divided into sections and rooms inspired by Daphne's New York City apartment so this show looks very different from exhibitions in the past like the Ralph Rucci one, where the gallery was open and expansive.
The show is organized by themes. The fantastic feather cape is part of the "Sparkle" group.

I loved these very precise jackets inspired by the tailoring of Savile Row in London.

A strict black tailored jacket is decorated with lace, a velvet ribbon and sparkling jewelry for a wonderful combination of structure and a touch of whimsy.

In contrast to that black tailoring are these white ensembles decorated with glittering stones. On the left is a silk chiffon dress by Alexander McQueen with rhinestones, and on the right is an ivory silk faile Chanel jacket with embroidered stone trim.

There were some futuristic, avant garde, sculptural silver dresses but my favorite piece was this narrow black sheath decorated with jewels around the neck and fur around the armholes by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy. I love the simplicity of the line embellished with a little extravagance.

A P.R. woman came around and said that Daphne was arriving upstairs with Valerie Steele to speak and answer questions. I went upstairs just in time to see Valerie and Daphne crossing the building lobby to a microphone. Daphne was wearing a black tailored jacket and a white shirt with the white cuffs extended and the collar turned up. Around the collar was tied a burgundy velvet ribbon which trailed down her shoulder, and a pin decorated the ribbon. She had on black tights and the high black shoes with no heel; I think those are by Alexander McQueen. So the top was very romantic and the bottom was very modern.

The first question she got was "Who inspires you?" and without a beat she said, "Diana Vreeland." She spoke with a lovely English accent with a little bit of an Irish accent at the end of a sentence. She said that Diana Vreeland really "inhabited her clothes." Daphne's inspiration also comes from reading a lot by books, as she imagines what the heroine would be wearing. She said, to laughter, that her own sense of style was "a series of mistakes."

I raised my hand with others and Valerie Steele pointed and said, "White hair." That was me. I said, "Daphne, your grandmother was Diana Mitford and I wonder if you could talk about her and how she influenced you." "My grandmother had very strict style," she replied. "She was tall and had a vertical line. She was a writer and not very into fashion. My great-aunts Nancy and Debo went to the fashion shows and that is how I met Mr. Givenchy. But I am always happy to return to the simple, neat, vertical style of my grandmother." I thought her answer was so interesting because that is exactly what I had admired in her black Givenchy gown downstairs.

Someone asked her if she was inspired by contemporary artists and she said she was more inspired by the Old Masters like the seventeenth century Spanish painter Zuburán, who Carolyne Roehm had also named as a favorite artist. "I go back in time," said Daphne.

When asked to name what she was wearing, she stated that it was an "old McQueen jacket" and a white shirt and leggings which she makes. "I always wanted to wear men's suits," she said. "When the cut is right, it's a default position." She talked about the role of clothing. "You can use it as a defense. Growing up you know your group by the way you dress. I was the anti-Sloane Ranger. Instead of a little skirt and a little sweater, I had leather studded belts and leggings and was very grumpy so no one would come near me."

"My style used to be a protective tool and now it's not," she said to more laughter since now her style is a subject of great interest. "Chic is a kind of armor that protects you against the world."

A big reason she agreed to do the show was so that students at FIT and others could view the clothes and look at how they are made. "It was the right thing to do," she said, "so that people would be able to see this." Don't miss this show. It's an inspiration and I plan to return.