When I was a little girl my mother would take me to Liberty of London every Christmas.
This collection is easily a Mecca for pieces of fantasy – the Gareth Pugh suit of nail studded leather, the almost impossibly converted Nina Ricci boots – and of dramatic, indulgent elegance – the Karl Lagerfeld black satin gown with the crystal dipped back and train. But it’s greatest strength is as a tribute to startling and perfectly executed everyday style.
Daphne Guinness’ own design of a cotton day dress with ribbon neck detailing in the perfect shade of pale grey shows Ms Guinness as an icon of nothing so rare as good taste.
We live in a time of spectacular designers who are executing incredibly their ability to create shocking, freeing and bizarre pieces. However it is unfortunate that we also live in a time when so many wearers of these pieces seem as though they are dressing up as either a circus freak or prostitute in order to wear them. Daphne Guinness’ outfit of an Alexander Mcqueen bra and harness of beaten leather worn over a classic longline Alaïa shirt and leggings is a shining example of how to wear these astonishing pieces without becoming a pastiche. Guinness says that she doesn’t “do event dressing, because every day is an event”, and here we see her clear ability to use even the most controversial pieces as part of every day elegance.
Guinness speaks in her films within the exhibition of the ability of clothes to create different characters. The different areas of the exhibition guide the viewer through her various dispositions – from leather clad, spiked and armoured provocateur to grey curled, Edwardian inspired dandy. It is refreshing that the strength of these does not come from their shock value but from Guinness openness in showing them as a reflection of herself. From the “cross dressing in Shakespeare” as the roots of her dandyism to her exotic rebellion against the “beige…Mao uniform” of fashion today, they are clearly a reflection of Guinness’ passions and ideas. In a fashion world where so many are shouting so loudly to be heard, Daphne Guinness shows that it is content and not the volume that is important.
If there is anything to be showcased more it is intelligent women and we are lucky in fashion to have so many. The exhibition of Daphne Guinness proves through her form of self expression, she is the cream of this exemplary crop.
- Rose Lander