Who Is After Daphne Guinness’s Heart?
Who Is After Daphne Guinness’s Heart?
In her inaugural post for Vogue.com, the fashion icon muses about Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton, and the designers who have caught her eye.
A topic that I have been pondering over the last couple of years came to a head the other day as I was in a discussion about “A Life Through Fashion: The Biographical Wardrobe” at the Royal Academy in London.
I was asked about Alexander McQueen and the appointment of Sarah Burton after his tragic and unbearable loss. I made a comment there that needs qualification: Should old brands be revived, or should we, as a culture, nurture new talent under their own names? So often young designers lose their names to established fashion houses and live under the enormous pressure and expectations from their parent corporations.
In the worlds of fine art, photography, and writing, it would be unthinkable—could one imagine a young writer being asked by a publishing company to write a play in the manner of Shakespeare and under his name? Fashion is a little bit different, but I would argue that enough similarities exist that it should be considered to an extent.
My feelings about this trend, popular since the 1970s, are very mixed. Chanel, Dior, and to a great extent Givenchy worked very well because the houses still existed with their core and archive intact, and many of the same people were still present—the petits mains remained in place. One of the things that makes me smile (and takes me back to Paris) is when I find a pin in my sleeve. It conjures all of the incredible work—the blood, sweat, and tears—that have brought something from conception to reality.
In a similar vein, Sarah Burton at McQueen was a very wise choice. She is extremely talented in her own right, the studio was unchanged, and the archive that has been so lovingly documented and preserved (as will be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in May) serves as a wonderful resource. Sarah worked side by side with Alexander, and while these are trying times for all at McQueen, I think they have responded remarkably. I know Sarah, and I know her integrity and loyalty as well as her indisputable ability. I think that her first show was striking, at once identifiably McQueen but with an angle that was subtly and superbly her own.
On the other hand, it is encouraging to see the raw talent that is around. I have been to some inspiring shows and have been lucky enough to serve as a judge on various panels. The signs are really exciting—just look at Gareth Pugh. In October, I participated in the annual Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize and was exposed to some fine contenders. Thomas Tait was the worthy winner with his angular, sculptural designs. Then there was Chau Har Lee, an architectural shoe designer who combines her extensive knowledge of traditional shoemaking with a desire to create conceptual showpieces.
Hermione de Paula was also striking for its tailoring. In truth, all of the talent at the Dorchester was rousing. I don’t doubt that the high standard showcased there is reflective of an aptitude in new designers on a far wider scale.
I have recently been wearing shoes by Noritaka Tatehana (some are made for practicality, others for their defiant figurine design), and Natacha Marro is another shoemaker of a similar ilk whose designs I wear. I seem to have got rather stuck on shoes here—so many praises to sing!
While I’m on this sculptural theme, Jordan Askill is both a jewelry designer and sculptor, whose intricate artwork is astounding.
Another designer to watch is Zara Gorman, whose hats are bold and chic.
Finally, Jamie Cockerill, a designer currently finishing his M.A. womenswear collection at Central Saint Martins, is a man after my own heart. I can’t wait to see what he does next. . . .
Overall, I hope that at least some of these creators/artists find the financial backing or a partner whom they can trust so they are free to design independently. I am optimistic that we can strike a balance between preserving our heritage and fostering new talent because in order for designers to survive, they often have to create up to fourteen collections a year (including couture, pret-à-porter, cruise, accessories, notwithstanding art direction for the shows), which requires a delicate balancing act and huge amounts of strength and support. This can drain the artistic part of their imagination, the part of fashion that is so inspiring to so many, including me.
Regards, Velvet Magazine