{Culture} A Fashion Icon at FIT

As I stepped through the doors at the Fashion Institute of Technology on 7th Avenue, in New York City, I could hear and feel the subway rumbling beneath me.  Strait ahead, was an exhibit entitled “Sporting Life,” a large space filled with sports clothing from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.  While clearly interesting, and an exhibit I took in before leaving the building, I came to see another one… Daphne Guinness.

If you’ve never heard of Daphne Guinness, take a few moments and type her name into Google.  Her iconic style is intriguing, but her enigmatic nature is captivating. From the shoes she wears to the words she chooses, there’s nothing predictable about her presence.

The exhibition is broken up into six distinct sections: Armour, Evening Chic, Chic, Sparkle, Exoticism and Dandyism and showcases designers such as Azzedine Alaia, Chanel, Christian Lacroix, and Alexander McQueen. Dandyism, devoted to the artist’s “absolute passion for mens clothes, especially a crisp white shirt and tailored jackets.” The sparkle exhibit shows an elegant floor length Alexander McQueen cape, made entirely from black feathers, from which it’s hard to walk away.  The piece is so impressive on the mannequin, one can only imagine how the piece would look in action, as the lithe lady, known for her diet of Red Bull and Ensure, makes an entrance with it wrapped around her shoulders.

A woman who wears her art, by way of clothing, has impeccable taste and knows what works for her, doesn’t “do event dressing because everyday is an event.” With her streaked hair and armadillo McQueen shoes, Daphne Guinness is today celebrating her 44th birthday. A part of the Guinness royalty, she was named to the international bet dressed list Hall of Fame in 1994… let’s take a look at some of the pieces and fashion elements that put her there.

*images from FIT website

While her clothes captivate the eyes, this quote captures the heart:

“I am always attracted to women who “own it”. Owning who you are, what you are, and rocking it. Whether you’re rich or poor, voluptuous or thin, black or white, busy or not busy. Whoever you are own it, and if you need to change it, own what must change.”

Well said, Ms. Guinness, well said.

The free exhibit is housed at FIT through January 7, 2012.  One could spend 15 minutes, taking in the fashions as eye candy, but could spend well over an hour, digesting each piece, reading the words and watching the films, playing throughout.  If you find yourself in New York City, and have any free time, I strongly advice taking a few minutes and doing a walk-through.

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