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Daphne Guinness, Performance Artist... Dov Charney's Paycheck...

Daphne Guinness, socialite and muse to the late Lee Alexander McQueen, can add another job description to her résumé: performance artist.

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ACTING A PART: Daphne Guinness, socialite and muse to the late Lee Alexander McQueen, can add another job description to her résumé: performance artist. Guinness on Monday presented a staged piece that included getting dressed in one of Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue windows in her gown for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala that evening. The beige feather-covered dress was designed by McQueen, who was being celebrated at the gala.

Dennis Freedman, Barneys’ creative director, originally had a window concept that would have shown the personal closets of various women. “Then we met with Daphne and she explained that she acquired the clothing collection of [the late] Isabella Blow,” Freedman said. He suggested displaying some of the clothes in a window. “We arrived at the idea that Daphne would get dressed in the window,” he said. “It was conceived as a piece of theater just as McQueen was a theatrical master of his shows.”

“I thought, Lee will be at the Met, Izzy had got to be somewhere,” said Guinness, referring to her friends McQueen and Blow by their nicknames. Barney’s windows feature 26 complete looks from Guinness’ archives, 10 of which were created by McQueen and others by Balmain, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Hauliuetrige, Gareth Pugh and Rick Owens. Blow’s signature hats by Philip Treacy can be seen in the windows along with ensembles by McQueen, John Galliano and Viktor & Rolf. Dressed in a gold bodysuit, her face and head wrapped in sheer scarves, Guinness slithered across the window. “To be covered expresses part of her grief,” Freedman said.

Talking between deep cleansing breaths, she admitted she was “nervous. I’m very shy.” Simon Doonan, Barneys’ ambassador at large, called the event “voyeurism and exhibitionism at the same time.”

If Guinness could see out the window, she would have found strength in numbers. Barneys invited students of the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons The New School for Design to create looks inspired by Guinness, Blow or McQueen. One FIT student wore a dress made entirely of feathers and had a paper butterfly covering one eye. Another wore a hat to make Treacy proud, with bent twigs covered with flowers and white netting.

Guinness’ appearance in the window was projected on the facade of the store while being live-streamed on Barneys New York’s luxury content site, The Window.

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