Daphne Guinness Tackles Her Dressing Habits, McQueen at FIT

Heiress and couture collector Daphne Guinness sat down with the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Head Curator, Dr. Valerie Steele, as part of the Fashion Icons and Insiders Symposium to discuss her personal style and her relationships with some of the word’s leading designers. An exhibition on Guinness' fashion collection is also currently open at FIT through January.

Guinness recalled calling her friend Alexander McQueen several years ago when she was considering opening up her wardrobe to FIT for the exhibit to see if he would be willing to collaborate. She said he told her it was a “bit too soon for a retrospective." Six-months later, he died and Guinness said the exhibit has been “very intertwined with him" since.

The duos friendship, as it turns out, almost never came to pass. Guinness recalled McQueen's muse Isabella Blow telling her, “Daphne you’ve got to meet Alexander.” Content with just buying his clothes, Guinness initially refused until a chance meeting in Leicester Square in London. The designer apparently approached her when she was wearing one of her capes and said, "I’m the person that you don’t want to meet." Guiness laughed, "And then we went to a pub."

McQueen isn’t the only designer with whom Guinness has had a close relationship. She said of Valentino, whom she met when she was 16: “He’s a gentle soul and an artist. He’s really an artist beyond anything else.”

As for Karl Lagerfeld, Guinness said, “He is future-forward, he understands where the world is going.” She also revealed that she is the one that got Lagerfeld involved with the Grand Theft Auto IV video game (Lagerfeld was a DJ on one of the game’s radio stations). She recalled bringing him to the offices of Rockstar Games, the creators of Grand Theft Auto. She said, “He saw how video games are put together and said, ‘Yes I’m doing it.'"

Talk also turned to her own personal style. Speaking of her penchant for menswear, she said, “[It comes from] my love of Oscar Wilde and Proust. Also I didn’t get to go to Eton." She added, "I like the idea of being androgynous."

Guinness also gave the crowd some insight into her buying habits. “I do multiples of the same thing," she confessed. "Get to know what suits you and what doesn’t." As for her taste for gravity defying heels from McQueen and Natacha Marro, Guinness said, “I wear them because they are comfortable, easy.”

Don’t think this fashion icon hasn’t had a bad fashion moment. She recalled her wedding day when she was 19, in 1987, wearing a blue Chanel suit. She said, “[My hair stylist] cut about two feet off of my hair and I ended up with an awful haircut.” 

Now 43-years-old Guiness said, “I don’t mind getting older. My spirit hasn’t changed. I never thought I was a typically beautiful person.” 
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