Vanity Fair, (August 2008), in Alexander McQueen

There are normal people and there is Daphne Guinness. Ms. Guinness is the ultimate fashion fantasy where everyone wears couture 24/7 and has ridiculously perfect bone structure. I like this world and therefore I love Daphne.

Vogue Italia (September 2008)

Born in 1967 into the blue-blooded Guinness family’s life of privilege (her father is a baron and a member of the Guinness brewing family), this gamine beauty has been on best-dressed lists – and a few worst-dressed lists (they just don’t understand!) – as long as I can remember. Daphne (may I call you Daphne?) is not everyone’s cup of tea. If your style icon is, let’s say, Jennifer Aniston (sorry), Daphne will look like a prettier and younger version of Cruella de Vil. So let’s not argue, just let me share my Daphne-love.

in Chanel Haute Couture

A.A Gill says it the best:

“There are people who dress up and there are people who dress down. There are people who dress badly and people who dress inappropriately. Some dress blindly or cheaply, and there are those who barely dress at all. There are people who wear costumes, and people who wear uniforms. There’s fancy dress and armor, clothes that say, ‘Come here’ or ‘Stand back,’ that whisper, ‘Trust me’ or ‘Respect me,’ that shout, ‘Fear me.’ But there are very few people, just a handful, who have a relationship with their clothes like Daphne Guinness. The Guinness heir and fashion muse doesn’t dress up or down. She dresses out. Her clothes don’t say anything at all, because they’re not talking to you. They’re too entranced by Daphne Guinness. But she has never had a look, never once, never remotely, that was anyone’s but her very own.” – Vanity Fair, August 2008
Vogue Italia, November 2009
(love her with black hair)

There is two underlying themes behind Daphne’s ensembles: armour and surrealism. The former extends from her long blood line of knights and barons, and the latter from spending her childhood surrounded by artists like Salvador Dali himself (geez, how many of us can say that?).

“I grew up in an artists’ colony near Barcelona with Salvador Dali and the Surrealists, so my dress sense is very coloured by my youth. Everybody knew that Dali was the most crazy; you’d go to his house and he would have lobsters in his pool. Anything went, clothes-wise.” – Times Online, August 22, 2007

She is a risk-taker (she recently wore the crazy Alexander McQueen monster shoes) but has her own signature look. I love how she combines tough-looking, armour-like accessories with very feminine elements like ruffles and lace. She is known for her impeccable eye for accessories, even creating her own metal gloves and cuffs.

in Chanel

in Proenza Schouler

wearing, and accompanied by, Oscar de la Renta at The Costume Institute’s “Model As Muse” Gala

in a Rick Owens jacket and a vintage dress

in Stella McCartney

with Giancarlo Giammetti in Valentino

in Alexander McQueen with André Leon Talley

her own metal glove design

amazing necklace
(she has THE BEST accessories)

another amazing glove
(dying for this one)

Drool. To prove that we all have something to aspire to, Daphne also has style icons of her own: the Duchess of Windsor, YSL muse Loulou de la Falaise and the brilliant late Isabella Blow (of course, ‘Izzy’ to Daphne). She counts Karl Lagerfeld as a close friend and claims to have hooked him on Grand Theft Auto.

She may be friends with many top designers, but Daphne insists on purchasing her garments. Most importantly, she never borrows pieces like Hollywood actresses and finds the whole lending-for-award-shows process offensive. I remember watching the documentary The Secret World of Haute Couture on CBC’s “The Passionate Eye” and she said something like: “If I see an actress wearing it, I don’t want to wear it!”

It’s art and she lives it.

Further reading:

The Phenomenology of Body, directed by Daphne Guinness (video).
My life in fashion: Daphne Guinness and her obsession with armour. The Times.
Daphne Guinness, golden girl. The Telegraph.
Rare Bird. W Magazine.
Heiress Apparent. The Sunday Times.

P.S. As intimidating as she looks, she is said to be very friendly and sweet in person. In April 2008 she donated 1,000 ready-to-wear and couture pieces for a charitable auction for Womankind Worldwide. Browse through the collection here.