Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daphne Guinness. That’s one dedicated follower of fashion

I am proof positive that one can live a good long time without ever having heard the name Daphne Guinness. Then damned if she isn’t everywhere. Or at least in a recent New Yorker profile, and then getting a mention in the Vanity Fair I picked up in New York City when I finished the not-very-good novel I’d brought along with me for our mini-vakay.

For those who, like me, have been living under the cone of ignorance, Guinness is:

  • Heiress to a pint or two of the Guinness fortune.
  • Ex-wife of Spyros Niarchos, son and heir of shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos
  • Granddaughter of Diana Mitford, of the batty and fascist-leaning Mitfords
  • A dedicated follow – or perhaps leader is a better word – of fashion, who buys a ton o’ couture, and whips up her own designs as well.

In other words, Daphne Guinness is a style icon. Which is not all that easy a way to make a living, even if you don’t exactly have to make a living. Being a style icon, you can’t get caught heading into D’Agostinos for a bag of, say, Orange Milanos wearing a pair of mom jeans, a comfy fleece, and a pair of New Balance walkers. Not that Daphne Guinness would be caught doing any of that stuff. Tsk, tsk.

Not only doesn’t she wear, or even have sitting around idling in the back of her closet, comfy clothes. It’s not clear whether she actually eats. As one might infer from Guinness’ throw-away line in the New Yorker profile, which has been getting a fair amount of play in the w.t.f. universe:

“I’ll eat when I’m dead.”

Great line, that.

Personally, since I’m not quite sure I’ll be doing much eating when I’m dead, I’ll take mine now. And even if there is after-life dining, who’s to say that I’ll like manna. So I’ll stick to earthly delights, like the hot fudge sundae on coffee ice cream.

While “I’ll eat when I’m dead” seems to be the profile’s prime takeaway, there were a couple of other intriguing aspects of Daphne Guinness that were of greater interest to me.

One was that Diana Mitford connection.

Okay, Diana wasn’t the Mitford sister who went ga-ga over Hitler, and tried to kill herself when she lost out to Eva Braun. That would be Unity Mitford. Still, Diana had her own fascist cred. She dumped her first husband (that would be Daphne’s Guinness grand-pater) for Oswald Mosley, the head of the British fascist party. The happy couple were married at the home of Joseph Goebbels, with Unity’s would-be beau in attendance.

Ah, love!

When Daphne finally became aware that her step-grandfather had a bit more to on him than just being the “very, very clever man” she found him, she quizzed her Granny a bit, letting her know that she, Daphne, thought Hitler was “the most uncharming person I’ve ever seen.”

To which Granny responded that “He didn’t photograph well,” and that “he was very, very funny.”

Oh, yes, that well known Hitlerian sense of humor we’ve heard so much about.

Okay, Daphne’s not responsible for her grandmother being a complete and utter nutter.

But sometimes, in terms of sheer nuttiness, the acorn doesn’t fall all that far from the tree.

As evidenced by Daphne Guinness’ repeated taking overflow baths in her posh NY flat, damaging the ceiling of her downstairs neighbor to the extent that he’s suing her for a million bucks. He’s a hedge fund manager, and I didn’t think I’d ever take the side of a hedgie. In this case, however, I must take exception. One bath tub flood’s an accident. Maybe even two. But to repeatedly let your tub overfloweth…

But what really got me about Daphne Guinness is that she wears heelless shoes.

You know, the ones that are like hooves. The ones taaaa-heellesshat are incredibly uncomfortable. The ones that you could break your neck falling off of. Or, in the case of Daphne Guinness, the ones that she fell off of and injured herself while attempting to clomp around in them – if one who will only be eating after she’s dead has enough heft to clomp. The injury was slight, but did draw blood. And Guinness professed to be “delighted that the blood matched her shoes.” (I hate when blood clashes with your shoe color. Which is why it might be best to stick with black or navy. Or green, because green goes with everything, even blood. Oh, and can you imagine how ick blood would look with cordovan?)

Guinness isn’t the only fashionista wearing hooves. Lady Gaga sports them, too. But Lady G balances them off with talent, while Daphne G balances them off with – what? money? Fashion sense as a substitute for common sense?

I know that uncomfortable fashion is nothing new. Think bound feet, whalebone corsets, bustles, hoop skirts, etc. But there are really few things more uncomfortable in life than wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes. I never thought I’d live to make the observation that wearing a pair of 5” stilettos presents a comfortable footwear alternative, but, thanks to Daphne Guinness, I now can.

And to think that just a few short days ago, I had no idea she even existed.

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