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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Muse You Can Use

A couple of weeks before he presented his first menswear collection in Paris, Gareth Pugh was busy blowing up 100 or so balloons in a tiny storeroom overlooking Tottenham Court Road, a street choked with office workers, kebab wrappers and lost international students.

As guest editor, Pugh art directed and starred in a cover shoot for Time Out's special London Fashion Week issue. His chosen photographer was Matt Irwin, his backdrop was a wall of pearly balloons and his co-star was Daphne Guinness, the half-pint Guinness heiress with a penchant for silver leggings, shock hair and diamonds as big as doorknobs.

Pugh has been a regular visitor and friend to Time Out since the magazine heralded his first show in 2005, so he was accustomed to the infamous rough-edged office block. Guinness was another matter. What would the fantastically posh eccentric/designer/filmmaker/patron of the avant-garde think of her makeshift boudoir, with its file cabinets, back issues and stale almond croissants?

She didn’t blink, of course. As the gaggle of scruffy fashion kids blew in with Pugh to unpack his spring ‘09 collection and fire up the hair straighteners, Daphne sweetly ordered a mug of builder's tea and warmed her feet on an electric heater. As most of the team chain-smoked on the roof, she happily settled into an hour or three of hair and make-up.

Pugh attracts a sort of polarized following, from the gothy young show-offs in the clubs and pubs of the East End to the effusive Parisian board members of ANDAM, who last year awarded him 150,000 recession-free euros and a slot at Paris Fashion Week. For her part, Guinness is fast-becoming recognized as an important ally to London’s creative scene, much like the late Isabella Blow (Guinness’ distant relative and friend). Little wonder that the 41-year-old was Pugh's pick for cover star.

Guinness, it turns out, is a natural. Propped up in her custom-made Christian Louboutin platforms and black-and-white armor outfit from Pugh's spring collection, she walked on set arm-in-arm with her designer friend. All smiles as she nestled in among the balloons, she was asked for her best cover star "look." Suddenly, she fixed the photographer with a pretend death-stare—to be unveiled on newsstands February 19.

—Dan Jones, Time Out London

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