A fashion catalyst in many ways Socialite, Daphne Guinness evokes the meaning of fashion off the runway. Keeping in her circles, her imagination and taste is a vast ocean of couture and self designed pieces that are all flamboyant and irreplaceable. In her own words fashion is about expressing ‘individualism’ and what a beautiful thing that is.
Leading a charmed life, Daphne Guinness was born heir to the Arthur Guinness fortune on the 9th of November 1967, spending her childhood growing up in idyllic country houses all over England and Ireland. During summers, she would spend her time in Spain, swimming in Salvador Dali’s pool – not your average Spanish escape, but for Daphne this was just life.
Jump to the 80s, New York, the beginning of the Club Kids and new icons emerging, Daphne was pulled to the bright lights of the city after her sister was a PA for Andy Warhol, whom she got to meet. Instead of becoming an irrevocable party girl, she instead chose marriage; marrying at the age of 19 to Spyros Niarchos and mothered three children during their relationship. The couple divorced in 1999 and suddenly the world began to get a taste of the unleashed, free Daphne Guinness.
She referred to her marriage as a “birdcage” to The Times and soon began to make more public appearances with designers and photographers she admired, instead of just admiring them from afar. One of these close friends became the Fashion bad boy, Alexander McQueen; they remained friends for the rest of his life. Another name connected to Alexander McQueen was another dear friend, Isabella Blow, who after taking her own life after severe bouts of depression became front page news again when Daphne Guinness stopped the auction of Isabella Blows Wardrobe. Speaking about it afterwards, she said it was to preserve the memory and artistic merit of her friend, whose outlandish style was irreplaceable and one of a kind.
Her absolute devotion to art is only part of what creates the enigma that is Daphne Guinness. What creates more fascination is her view of fashion, an almost constant kinetic installation. She has spoken of her feelings when wearing a new item by one of her many designer friends, pulling on the feelings and emotions that went into making it, appreciating it wholly. It is not commercial fashion she has a love for, it is couture where she has accumulated and collected thousands of pieces, some of which have made it into a gallery at the Fashion Institute for Technology.
Her fashion sense is indefinable. It’s futuristic mixed with tradition at times; a juxtaposition explored with designers, yet Daphne seems to always take this quality off the runway and apply it to her own fashion sense. Her hair, blonde most of the time with black streaks running through is mostly pulled back, exposing her angular face.
You can only guess what Daphne will turn up to an event in, however staple pieces recently have been luxurious tunics, skinny pants and heelless shoes, all cinched in and thinning her already slim silhouette.
It is this look which has garnered her so well with designers, with the likes of Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford using her as inspiration – Tom Ford even had her close his comeback collection in 2011. Daphne has also walked two of Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief charity shows as well as being a cover girl for Vogue Italia twice which was shot by friend, Steven Klein.
Close with surrealist artist David LaChapelle, she became the focus of the fashion moment shot titled ‘Daphne Guinness in Water’ which appeared on a billboard in New York to promote an exhibition showcasing LaChapelle’s work. Her involvement in art has seen her provide her own creativeness, appearing in a Barney’s window display getting ready for a gala at the Met and producing her own designs in the form of accessories, garments and perfume when she can’t find exactly what she is looking for.
This design work has lead her to collaborate with Comme des Garçons on a perfume in 2009 and creating her own clothing line for Dover Street Market in 2007. More recently, she has created a cosmetics range for MAC, a job many other contemporary fashion icons take today.
Now in her forties, Daphne has exploded on the fashion scene with the likes of Lady Gaga calling Daphne Guinness an inspiration to her, and like the outfits and the dandy demeanour she possess; she has proved to be a storm; always changing direction, leaving us guessing where she’ll take us next.