Moxie File: Daphne Guinness


She lives off Red Bull and Ensure.  She openly admits to avoiding solid food altogether and recently told a reporter ‘she’ll eat when she’s dead’.  She claims she dresses for old people who look at her funny in the airport but she is one of the most revered and inspired fashion icons in the world.  Her aesthetic has been described as “often futuristic, but she also appears to have come from a bygone age when getting dressed was considered a demanding form of self-expression, rather than an opportunity to wallow in spandex-enabled comfort.”  She inspires me in both design and fashion especially after running into a client at Trader Joe’s in my workout clothes.

Fashion designer Tom Ford describes her as possibly the most stylish woman living, Karl Lagerfeld  claims her as a muse and The New Yorker lovingly described her as “a slightly deranged fairy invented by C.S. Lewis.”  She’s such a wildly creative style icon that the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is currently devoting one of its galleries to almost 100 pieces from her closet.  Who is this style maven known to make an entrance in 10 inch heels? Daphne Guinness, the heir to the Guinness beer fortune, close friend of Alexander McQueen and epic collector of haute couture.

Obviously, Daphne Guinness belongs in my moxie file since she literally wears it on her sleeve.  I admire her boldness, her authenticity and, of course, her mindblowing style but I also draw inspiration from her unabashed embrace of beauty and her reverence for its creation.  One of my favorite quotes is by Daphne Guinness:  “We need better things, not more. We should not pollute the world with meaningless, unused things when we can make and support things of rare and precious beauty.”

Guinness, a regular in both the upper realms of artsy bohemians and wealthy socialites, travels between her homes in Europe and New York City.  Her closet must follow separately with a recent estimate of 2,500 pieces in her wardrobe by some of the biggest names in the business including Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Lacroix and Valentino, not to mention her 450 pairs of shoes.

Guinness herself is not just a clothes junkie.  She has designed clothing with Dover Street Market and worked with fashion label Comme des Garçons to create a fragrance but she’s also writing a novel, painting, modeling and has produced and acted in films. Her legacy, though, is rooted in her personal choices and her closet which includes the entire of wardrobe of her friend and fellow fashion icon the late Isabella Blow.

One of Guinness’ most prized pieces is a gold and diamond arm glove from jewelry designer and friend Shaun Leane.  Building on her love of armour, the diamond drenched glove is entitled ‘Contra Mundum’ or ‘Against The World’ and took 5 years to create. It is thought to be one of the most technically intricate jewelry pieces in the world with 18K platinum and encrusted with 5000 pavé diamonds.

If you’re wondering if her interior design choices are just as daring as her fashion, here are a few photos of her NYC apartment which is packed with large scale contemporary art including works by Damien Hirst and photographer David LaChapelle:

Daphne Guinness is a couture collector but as noted by most designers and fashion writers, Guinness doesn’t just look good in clothes, she creates an inspired look with the tools of high fashion.  She wears risky clothes from dangerously teetering heels to winged capes draped in feathers.  Slightly less theatrical than Lady Gaga, there is an elegance to the style of Guinness that balances and softens the extreme fashion she loves. She often talks about how clothes and accessories give her insight into herself and her experiences which she then fearlessly applies to her daily life.

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