Daphne Guinness has surely amassed the most desirable and iconic wardrobe in the world today. The lady that Tom Ford labelled “the most stylish woman living” has been an haute couture collector for decades and was rightfully inducted into The Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1994. It is therefore no surprise that the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York is showcasing countless couture pieces from the icon’s private collection until January 7th 2012.

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Guinness once said “what’s perceived is not what I am.” Ironically, this exhibitionist is said to be painfully shy and somewhat of an introvert. After marrying Greek shipping heir Spyros Niarchos at the tender age of 19, Daphne entered into a sheltered and rigid lifestyle and turned to shopping for comfort and solace. The couple divorced in 1999, with Guinness pocketing a reported $40 million. Undoubtedly, this hefty sum was invested in some serious threads.

Daphne caught the attention of late influential stylist Isabella Blow who subsequently appointed her as contributing fashion editor at Tatler Magazine. In fact, when Christie’s intended to auction the fashion-maven’s wardrobe, Guinness stepped in and bought the entire collection to preserve the integrity of her friend and ensure her fashion legacy would remain intact in one piece.

Unlike many “style icons” of the day, a term used so frivolously in present media, Daphne never appears to be a mere clothes horse. She has declared she prefers to “inhabit clothes rather than wear them,” an ideal that is evident when one sees a picture of Guinness in larger than life costume dress, as she manages to command the outfit and make it entirely her own. In complete incongruity to the image that she exudes, the muse to countless designers told Gareth Pugh that her idea piece of clothing would be a “coat to make her invisible.”

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Daphne Guinness at the funeral of friend Alexander McQueen

While exhibitions commonly showcase the works of fashion designers, it is rare that a style icon’s private collection be shown. This is a testament to the skunk-haired lady’s life long contribution to fashion. Some of her most famous pieces are being exhibited, including her collection of unfathomably high shoes and diamond jewellery.

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“I’m not eccentric, im very level headed.. when people say you are eccentric they are trying to do you dow n or say youre crazy” -Daphne Guinness

By Freya Drohan