Couture With Provenance: Daphne Guinness Sends Her Collection to Christie's to Fund Her Philanthropy

Daphne Guinness
(Billy Farrell Agency)

Daphne Guinness’s style has substance. A striking British fashion icon known for ultra-cutting-edge outfits that eschew comfort and conformity for ingenuity and flair, she holds sway in numerous artistic milieus. She is also a versatile artist in her own right, having created jewelry, clothing, and several films. Now, in honor of her deceased boon companion, Guinness has established the Isabella Blow Foundation, funded in part by 100 items from her fabled closet to be auctioned at Christie’s on June 27.

“I thought it was the only poetic way of doing it,” says Guinness. “With the money I hope to put a student through art school.” Additional funds raised by the foundation will be earmarked for research into bipolar disorder, which played a part in the suicides of both fashion editor Blow and designer Alexander McQueen, a close friend to both women. Treasures by McQueen as well as Balenciaga, Gareth Pugh, Prada, and Christian Lacroix are among the lots offered, estimated to bring a total in the region of £100,000 ($160,000).

With this auction a bittersweet irony emerges, as Guinness effectively preempted the planned 2010 Christie’s auction of Blow’s own coveted couture by buying every lot when she learned of the sale. She says she was motivated by a desire to keep that collection intact and prevent it from becoming “morbid memorabilia,” but also by her belief that “there’s no way Izzie would have wanted anybody wearing her clothes.” As for her own auction to benefit the foundation, Guinness admits that “donating a couple of these pieces hurt a bit.” The sacrifice is worth it, however, so she can make a statement. As Guinness says, “Ninety-five percent of fashion is trend; these are works of art.”

To see highlights from the June 27 Christie's auction of pieces from Daphne Guinness's collection, click the slide show.

This article appears in the June issue of Art+Auction.