DAPHNE GUINNESS: THE LAST LEVELLER

Monday, October 12, 2015

Daphne Guinness is an artist of both British and Irish nationality. She is an heir by direct descent of Arthur Guinness, the 18th-century inventor of the beer that still bears his name.

As a child, the young Hon. Daphne Diana Joan Susanna Guinness grew up in the country houses owned by her family in England and Ireland. She spent her holidays in an 18th-century former monastery in Cadaqués, on the Spanish coast near Barcelona, where the neighbors included Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Dieter Roth, and Richard Hamilton.



Daphne Guinness has been referred to as an icon in the world of fashion. At the request of Fashion Institute of Technology director Valerie Steele, she spent two years mounting an exhibition of a hundred displays of her clothing, which was staged within the context of her other projects, film and modelling. She is courted by many of the best-known names in fashion (such as Karl Lagerfeld, NARS, MAC, Akris, Gareth Pugh and Philip Treacy), working with them artistically or as a model or both.

Her best-known friend was the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Scheduled to model for charity on the runway the day his suicide was announced, Guinness veiled herself in mourning.

She creates and invents many objects herself, many inspired by her fascination with armour. She is known for a taste for skinny pants and platform pumps. She designs fashion, jewelry, and perfume for herself when she cannot find exactly what she wants to wear or buy. She has said that she created more than 100 pieces in 2010 alone.

Since 1994, she has been on the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame, which seeks to identify the best-dressed women in the world. In 2010, she was named in Tatler’s top 10 best-dressed list. In 2011, she created a make-up line for MAC cosmetics. In January 2011, she was asked by Tom Ford to close his comeback womenswear show.



Daphne Guinness has worked in a variety of roles: artist, actress, muse, model, collector and designer. She is the muse of many photographers who are fascinated by her beauty and feel for artistic performance. Steven Klein, the renowned photographer of such celebrities as Madonna and Lady Gaga, chose Guinness for two Vogue Italia covers. In the first, she plays Jean Seberg in Romain Gary’s Les Oiseaux vont mourir au Perou. In the other, she embodies Delphine Seyrig in Alain Resnais’ masterpiece, L’Année dernière à Marienbad.

David LaChapelle is a longtime friend and collaborator, and chose her to appear in his Maybach advertising campaign in two intricate pictures for the car’s Zeppelin model. On another occasion, when working for LaChapelle, she spent six hours in a tank of water, immersed for up to two minutes at a time, to produce two underwater images, including the famous Daphne Guinness in Water.

She is also featured in the series Return to Eden, which has not yet been released.

In September 2011, more than half a million visitors attended the Alexander McQueen exhibition Savage Beauty, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Shortly thereafter, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology devoted one of its galleries to about a hundred of Daphne’s most important pieces.

On January 31, 2012, Styleite.com reported that Guinness had put her art-filled Fifth Avenue apartment for sale for $14-M USD.

In 2011 Guinness was photographed by photographer Bryan Adams and featured on the cover of Zoo Magazine.

She insists that she is not eccentric. “I loathe the word,” she says. “It has become devoid of meaning: it is a blanket statement hinting at lunacy. Perhaps “bohemian” might be considered as an alternative word, if one needs to be labelled.”



In 2014, Guinness allowed cameras into her Irish home to record an online documentary by David V Barron called Daphne Guinness, The Last Leveller that focuses on her musical endeavours and personal musical tastes. Watch this.

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