Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daphne Guinness at FIT

In the midst of the rain, I walked over to FIT after acupuncture to meet Emilie, who had suggested we catch the Daphne Guinness exhibit. She was the perfect partner and we spent a happy hour looking at the formerly unseen McQueens and Chanel haute couture, Givenchy, Gareth Pugh, Alaia and assorted others. It was a pretty engaging exhibit, beautifully staged (six stages showcasing various themes--armor, exoticism, sparkle, chic, etc). One immediate thought--Guinness is skinny--she's 5' 8" but her thighs are the barely bigger than my arms. There has to be some major discipline involved as well as some fortunate genetics to stay that thin after 40, but there is no way someone bigger than sample size could wear some of those McQueen catsuits.

My favourite looks from the exhibit were some of the McQueens and, surprisingly, some of the Chanels (one black and gold beaded Chanel minidress was a standout, as was a black bias cut gown with beautiful rhinestone trim on the back and train). Possibly the most beautiful piece was the diaphanous ivory McQueen empire waist dress above that I thought would make a perfect wedding dress. Some of the most eyecatching work was also McQueen's (a black feathered cape over a gold rhinestone catsuit, some beautiful black dresses and, of course, the suiting).

But the strangest part was just how few extreme garments or looks were presented. One section of little black and little white (and gray) dresses had some nice looks but several pieces were very "ladies who lunch," including little suits that were conservative and minimally interesting. Her accessories were pretty incredible--as were the shoes, most of them heel-less, and all of them insanely high. Certainly, there was a clear presentation of her style, as well as some beautiful clothes, but I would have liked more detail on the garments and their narrative. That said, it was nice to see these clothes in a beautiful setting on a quiet afternoon where you could actually look at the garments without crowds. It's certainly an exhibit that you have to look at more than once--to see the clothes individually and in the context of their staging. And then go back one more time to see your favourite pieces once more.

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