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23-05-2010
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Not all girls are high-fashion or whatever. Some people are just not into clothes. Why should she wear her clothes? Besides, I don't think they'd be easy to pull off anyway.

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23-05-2010
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^Thanks Tatiana.
timesonline.co.uk
Daphne Guinness, fashion's invisible muse
Lisa Armstrong
She may say she wants to blend into the background, but not everyone can carry off lobster shoes and a dress made from bra cups
You’d think Daphne Guinness’s penchant for outlandish clothes, Madame de Pompadour hair and enviable ability to totter about the place in glittery 8in platforms would make her a reliable beacon in crowds. But scanning the vast saffron-hued horizons of the Dorchester hotel, I fail, initially, to locate her.
Then suddenly, among the chadors and twinsets, she bounces into view. “Bounce” being the operative word. Her latest glittery eight-inchers, which she co-designed, don’t have heels. Platforms, yes. But at the back, there is just an arc of air between Guinness and the seductive plush of the Dorchester’s carpet, a feat of engineering that allows her to rock back on the soles of her feet whenever her arches are feeling weary. Each time she tilts back, she plummets at least six inches beneath most people’s eye line, only to spring back, Weeble-like, when she’s gathered her strength. Now you see her, now you don’t. Genius. You might get rather seasick if you spent too much time with her, though.
She’s been wearing extreme shoes for years. When the rest of us were in fake Tod’s loafers, she was buying fetish shoes from sex shops.
Il faut souffrir, except, she says, these are supremely comfortable. “Honestly, they’re simple shoes. My whole thing is being invisible.” I’ll take her word, since she positively skipped into the lift that is now whooshing us up to the suite the Dorchester has lent her for this interview. She is a judge and mentor for the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, which has just been set up to support new design talent.
Oddly, given the bleak economy, this year has seen a blossoming of similar awards. But none of the others has Guinness on board. She’ll be a wonderful asset, with her lovely manners, unique taste and ingénue’s enthusiasm (“some of the most exciting moments I’ve had have been in designers’ studios”). Mind you, she can drift off-message, swooping and circling in ever more ruminative circles.
The characters who drifted across her childhood – Dalí, Oswald Mosley – make for engaging conversation. But my, she gabbles, perhaps because, as the youngest of five siblings, she struggled to be heard. Her voice, at times as splendidly clear and deep as Sybil Thorndike’s, frequently dips into a teenage mumble. Later, when I’m listening back to our interview, whole minutes pass during which all I can make out is, “not really a muse”, “definitely not a socialite”, “designers so hand-to-mouth, that’s why I wanted to get involved with the prize” and “my thing is the third sex”. And this is merely territory we touched on in the lift.
What does Daphne Guinness actually do? It’s a question that trails her like a private investigator in a badly cut jacket. It’s usually articulated by those who don’t fully appreciate fashion’s delicate ecosystem. Daphne Guinness wears clothes, not the way most of us do in our unambitious attempt to get out of the house looking reasonably respectable, but like a maestro conducting a symphony. She is Beethoven to Trinny and Susannah’s James Last. This, of course, makes her manna for designers – and not just because, unlike so many celebrities, she pays for her clothes (her impressive collection will get its own exhibition next year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York).
Where others see weird gimmicks with the ability to maim, she recognises a subversive but chic accessory. For the 90th birthday party of Maureen, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava (née Guinness), she decided it would be fun to go dressed as a funeral pony, “lots of plumes”. When she saw the results, the late Isabella Blow was so impressed, she took Guinness under her expansive fashion wing. Then Alexander McQueen saw her waltzing across Leicester Square with one of his embroidered dragons on her back and ran, “literally ran”, across to her to introduce himself. They became friends immediately.
Guinness is still perplexed by his suicide. “The irony is, he’d turned a corner. It was last year when all his friends were worried about him. He was on the up after a really black period. He seemed comfortable [here she sighs], but with Lee it all depended on his mood. He could be so funny and easy, and other times... But no one’s completely uncomplicated. Anyway, it will be a long time before we see another McQueen.” Sensing she may have veered off-message she quickly adds, “Actually, that’s not true. Look at Gareth Pugh. But it’s the corporate thing. They put these designers to the grindstone and that’s not good. They have to back off.”
She must have a high pain threshold. Once, when one of the bones in her corseted dress nearly punctured her ribs, she barely noticed until she got home.
She was the first to wear the lobster shoes from McQueen’s penultimate show. They were five sizes too big and she had to stuff them with newspaper. McQueen rang her the next day to ask her what the hell she thought she was doing. “But, coming straight off a shoot where you’ve been floating upside down, you don’t stop to think that people out there might be looking at you and thinking, ‘Oh Christ.’?”
She did notice when her eyes were bleeding, “literally bleeding” on one shoot. But this is the price you pay for a memorable picture: in this instance, photographer David LaChapelle had plonked her in a water tank, asked her to wear white zombie contact lenses (“It took an hour to put the bloody things in”), dressed her in a black plastic wedding gown, or maybe that was another time, and asked her to hold her breath for a minute because air bubbles would pollute the purity of the composition.
It is hard to imagine Gisele Bündchen submitting to such depredations, but for Guinness, fashion, at its best, is art. Designers love her because she brings their vision alive in a context that, if not exactly real by most people’s standards, is not, at any rate, the catwalk.
Ever since she returned to London in the late Nineties with a rumoured £20 million settlement from her marriage to Spyros Niarchos, scion of the shipping dynasty, she has thrown herself into one artistic endeavour after another. There’s her collection of shirts, of jewellery based on medieval armour, the sometimes arcane films she has produced and/or directed and her charity work.
She doesn’t like to talk about her years as a shipping magnate’s wife, whether out of concern for her three children (now 21, 19 and 15) or legal circumstances. She married young at 19. He was 32 and had swept her off her feet after they met on a skiing holiday. She had been planning to study opera singing at the Guildhall. She lingered for ten years among the Euro set, a milieu so incompatible she might just as well have gone to live with a tribe of pygmies.
She would probably have had more in common with pygmies. Euros don’t tend to dress up as funeral ponies, but more than the clothes, says Guinness, was the problem that “No one ever wanted to have a conversation about art, the world outside.” I think it was probably quite traumatic, this sequestering. When she returned to London with her three small children at the end of the Nineties, she says, “Everyone thought I was dead.”
Maybe this is why she has thrown herself into such a punishing form of patronage, darting between New York, London and Paris. Other muses seem content to waft into position in the front row every six months and cop the odd freebie. Guinness does not approve. “I don’t understand why celebrities can’t buy their own clothes. Elizabeth Taylor would never have dreamt of letting anyone tell her what to wear, yet nowadays they’re all styled by someone else.” Her passion, she says, derives from a conviction that “things aren’t really good enough”. Does she mean people don’t dress very well? “Oh no. People dress great. But, um, until the moon landings, everything was about the future, and then that optimism faded away, so I just try to redesign things that I feel could be better. But I’m not really in the fashion world and they’re teeny weeny projects...”
Although she doesn’t subscribe to the poor little rich girl scenario that some journalists have imagined for her, it is true that, at 42 and with her three children away at college and boarding school, she probably finds herself with time on her hands. Until last year, when her name began appearing in conjunction with Bernard-Henri Lévy, the dashing French philosopher, she had never been romantically linked in public with anyone other than her ex-husband. The only problem is that Lévy is married to the French actress Arielle Dombasle. Or maybe it isn’t a problem; perhaps everyone’s being very French and sophisticated? “No, no? erm not, it’s not exactly fine like that, but he’s the most wonderful person in the whole world and he makes me very happy and I hope that it will all work out eventually?”
I wonder what her children make of her returning from shoots with blood trickling out of her eyeballs. “They’re cool,” she says, although one of them did once ask her to stay in the car when she turned up to his school. “But I think all children get embarrassed by their mothers.” Her daughter tends not to wear any of Daphne’s clothes – “I’ve said borrow whatever you like. But she prefers Topshop.” I’d read, somewhat implausibly, that Daphne is also partial to the high street. So which are her favourite chain stores? “Er, Sephora?” she offers. Doesn’t count, that’s cosmetics. She ponders for a few seconds. “Waterstone’s?”
There’s no doubt that Daphne’s projects that Are Not Really In The Fashion World bring forth arresting results. One of the short films she produced, 2004’s Cashback, was nominated for an Oscar. Last December, she shot a campaign for Maybach, the oligarchs’ favourite car, in which she dressed up as a witch and sprawled on the roof of the car while “a guy pretended to be dead. And then there was an orgy.” The one thing that annoys her is when people assume she just slaps her name on to products for the hell of it. Typically, she got so involved in her perfume collaboration with Comme des Garçons, ­and so bogged down trying to describe it to everyone, that she ended up making a film about it.
She had been making her own scent, from patchouli and tuberoses, since she was 5. It was quite a childhood. Her French-born mother, Suzanne Lisney, part of Man Ray’s and Marcel Duchamp’s set, was the second wife of Lord Moyne (Jonathan Guinness), but by Daphne’s account, it was a harmoniously assimilated clan, sprawling in aristocratic tradition between country houses in Ireland, England and Spain. Dalí regularly dropped in for lunch, although even he was defeated by the Guinnesses’ eccentricity. “He’d turn up really early for lunch,” says Daphne, eyes opening wide, “like one o’clock or something, and then have to wait to eat until five.”
She must get her petite frame from the French side. If there were such a thing as teacup humans, Guinness would be the prototype. The short grey wool dress she is wearing (with silver Chanel belt and a criminal-baiting number of antique diamonds dangling from her ears, neck and wide, black ballerina hairband) is by McQueen, and also microscopic. “I was in his studio one day and asked him to make me something really simple, and he ended up taking this bra and cutting it in half, and using the cups for the shoulders. I have these big shoulders, and I like things to fit really well and be neat. I hate baggy. I had to take my school uniform in.”
She inherited her taste for tailoring from her grandmother, Diana Mosley, née Mitford. “She was very, very crisp-looking, almost minimalist, with very little jewellery. I got on really well with her. I slightly? um, oh God, you think you know someone really well, but you don’t and it was awful, horrible, finding out that the husband she loved was a fascist.”
She was 13, away at school, when she first learnt about Oswald Mosley’s politics. “He died and no one from home rang me. I found out from the telly, and then all hell broke loose.” She is, she says, still coming to terms with his role in British history, which seems a harsh legacy with which to burden herself. Perhaps she blames herself for being duped: “He was very charming and intelligent. He always spoke to you as if you were an adult.”
She does not, she says, feel guilty about her wealth, “because it’s all relative”. But she certainly doesn’t want to be seen merely as a designer’s mascot. “I’m not a muse,” she points out. “No one’s ever officially appointed me.”
Nor does she understand why people all seem to want to look rich these days. This, in itself, is a bit rich, coming from someone dripping in diamonds. “But half of them are paste,” she remonstrates. “And no one can ever tell the difference. That’s the point.”
The real question is, what does she wear to the gym? (It transpires that she works out “all the time”, and she is very wiry, although she says she takes a “stack of newspapers” in the taxi with her to the gym, which suggests she may not exactly be caning it on the treadmill.) “Not diamonds,” she laughs. “Normal stuff.
A Rick Owens white T-shirt and black leggings. I’m not high-maintenance. When I think my hair needs a bit of help, I just glue another bit on to my head.” It is a life less ordinary, but it fits her perfectly.
Entries for the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize close at the end of May

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23-05-2010
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There is something seriously wrong in the last picture...

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25-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eternitygoddess View Post
That's like having filet mignon as an option and choosing to eat Burger King.
Well have you seen pictures of her daughter?

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25-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harumi View Post
Well have you seen pictures of her daughter?
No- do tell...

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25-05-2010
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Yes Harumi, Do Tell ....

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25-05-2010
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^god! I feel like such an idiot!
I realize now I was thinking of Tallulah Harlech (who I find rather common if not downright vulgar).

Of course, like everybody in this thread I've never seen pictures of her daughter. Apologies all around!

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25-05-2010
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^ Oh that's OK- I get them all confused as well... Little Harlech was a little bit of a surprise- I know what you mean...

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26-05-2010
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Daphne appears in this video looking fabulous (and adorable at the end!)
From 2:25

Quote:
I realize now I was thinking of Tallulah Harlech (who I find rather common if not downright vulgar).
Ouch! "Common"? That's rather snobby! Though I get you, she's not as stylish as her mom, but I think she'll grow into her own...maybe. She's running with the NY hipster crowd at the moment, which is probably why she's a bit

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Last edited by ponytrot; 26-05-2010 at 03:50 AM.
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26-05-2010
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^ Yeah, it is no surprise when you hear Amanda is Lady Harlech, she looks the part...But her daughter looks like dozens of kids I see walking around the local shopping mall...

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26-05-2010
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@ponytrot Saw this video ages ago and I've got back to it twice just to watch the end haha so cute.
Psst, Daphne... DEREK!

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26-05-2010
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style.com
Dinner for Stefano Tonchi

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26-05-2010
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what is all that about???

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26-05-2010
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^The shoes? In the last article it said how Daphne kind of bobs up and down whenever her feet get tired. I have to say, looks kind of terrible, but I admire the practicality.

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26-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harumi View Post
^god! I feel like such an idiot!
I realize now I was thinking of Tallulah Harlech (who I find rather common if not downright vulgar).

Of course, like everybody in this thread I've never seen pictures of her daughter. Apologies all around!
Ah its alright, mistakes are easily made
her children are called Nicolas, Alexis and Ines

the shoes are rather weird how she rests them on the floor, and the guy next to her seems to be baffled to what shes doing

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