When I heard about designer Alexander McQueen’s tragic suicide this morning I immediately thought of the woman who championed his work and is a muse for so many designers and artists: the extraordinary Daphne Guinness, heir to the Guinness fortune. The two are such a mainstay of the New York fashion scene (and today is the start of New York fashion week). It's sad to think of how many people working the catwalk today will be personally devastated by the news.
But last night, before she heard, the fashion forward Guinness heiress was wearing seven-inch heels through the blizzard to attend a dinner in honor of Vanessa Paradis (wife of Johnny Depp) who fronts Chanel’s Rouge Coco lipstick. That's exactly the kind of spirited attitude that McQueen loved.
“You know, the last blizzard, in December, I wore these shoes and I walked twenty blocks in them, and then I tried to walk back and it was so cold," she told New York magazine. "And my best friend Robin was like, you’re going to break your neck in those shoes. And I was sliding a bit, but I have a very steady walk. Shit happens. I guess I could break my neck tomorrow.”
Earlier this year Guinness wore a pair of McQueen’s famously impossible “armadillo” heels from his 2010 collection – later seen in Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance video. She's too modest to say so herself, but Guinness is really the personification of the woman McQueen designed for.
“If you look at them carefully, they’re not that tall,” said Guinness of McQueen's ten inch heels. “They’ve got a huge platform. With any shoe, you have to condition like you’re conditioning for a sport. You work out different muscles. If you put me in a pair of eleven-inch stilettos without a platform, I’ll have blisters and I won’t be able to walk. There’s no way. Your bones aren’t built for that. Eight-inch with a platform, that’s easy. You know, I could map it out on a piece of paper for you and explain it to you distinctly and brilliantly, but if I do it now, I’ll sound pretentious and ridiculous.” Guinness continued, “I’ve got some Ugg boots. The only problem is I feel like I’m falling backwards. My muscles just aren’t built for flats anymore.”
McQueen will be sorely missed. I'm just glad we still have Daphne.