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Guinness' fashion an important icon 

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Those who dress as their own person should inspire

At the beginning of January, an exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology museum in New York City was nearing its end. The exhibit showcased over 100 pieces from various fashion designers such as Valentino, the late Alexander McQueen, Chanel and some less known individuals.

This hodgepodge of an exhibit was not focused on the designers themselves. The pieces came from a personal collection of a famous socialite: Daphne Guinness.

If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because she is the heiress to the Guinness beer fortune.

Many designers, from Tom Ford to Karl Lagerfeld, looked to Guinness as an inspiration for their collections. It’s very rare to have designers turn to an individual as a muse of sorts. It’s always the designer’s individual style that influences the masses of women who go through life experimenting with different looks, not the other way around. In the case of Guinness’ exhibit, though, it’s not hard to understand why she is an original.

In the piece from The New Yorker, Precarious Beauty, reporter Rebecca Mead calls her style “futuristic … she appears to come from a bygone age when getting dressed was considered a demanding form of self-expression.”

Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the F.I.T. museum places Guinness in the realm of other fashion icons such as “Grace Kelly, Tina Chow, and Nan Kempner — women whose wearing of clothes amounts to a form of creativity in itself.”

It is true that she does possess an “artistic temperament” as she calls it when discussing her style with Mead. In the article and during her interview with NPR, one can tell that fashion is her passion. Of the many so-called “style icons” the media tries to push the public into believing are such, very few of them possess that “it” quality that makes them stand out.

Guinness’ exhibit is important because it shows not just a personal evolution, but also the cycle of fashion itself. Everything begins when something before it comes to an end (e.g., the end of the bell-bottoms gave way to the dreadful shoulder pads of the ‘80s). That trend made way for the beginning of the grunge look and so on.

What I find the most interesting is that her impact is somewhat similar to Chanel’s. When Chanel stood up with her simplistic style in an era where excessive ornaments and corsets were the norm, she was already dressing like the modern woman that she was, and others followed suit. Guinness’ eccentricity set the tone for entertainers who go to extremes like Lady Gaga. The difference is that Guinness makes her image a part of her everyday life and the assortment of outfits demonstrates her love for the craft.

I think Guinness is important aside from being a living fashion history exhibit. I think she should be looked at as a muse for young women. From my observations, most girls nowadays are walking advertisements for a mass produced look. It’s understandable that there are more important things to focus on than just fashion, but it still needs to be a priority. It should be just as important because one should never close themselves off to fashion.

If young girls get into the artistry of fashion, rather than what the media make it out to be, then the perception will be somewhat shifted and others will attempt to inspire people with their style.

As women, we should be inspiring ourselves to take more risks (in a tasteful manner) and be encouraged to always be evolving into our ideal selves. It doesn’t make sense to progress emotionally, mentally or even financially, but still be stuck in the Victoria Secret PINK section at 40, or buying hipster clothes only fit for a 17-year-old.

As one’s interior changes, so should the exterior. The most important thing is that one’s look should be unique and not like the rest of the mannequins in the world.

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