Nov 17, 2011 12:00AM

Daphne Guinness: Real Fashion Ended with Grunge

The best and worst of grunge: Kate Moss, Johnny Depp and Kurt Cobain.

The inimitably eccentric heiress that is Daphne Guinness has proclaimed grunge to be the last inspired era in fashion. "There hasn't been anything real since grunge," Guinness told Interview magazine. "That was the last movement led by music or an art form."

Clearly unimpressed with the state of fashion these days, Guinness was lost for words when asked to define the style of this period. When she did answer, the only term which seemed to suffice was a lustreless "corporate". I can't quite decide if I find this statement to be profoundly accurate, or if perhaps all fashion would seem drab and 'corporate-like' when compared with Guinness' outlandish wardrobe and her panache for outrageous and fabulous haute couture, soaring heel-less platforms and 'skunk hair' that would make Cruella De Vil proud. Either way, the heiress has a strong commitment to fashion, famously using the windows of Barneys as her dressing room - so when she has something to say about the nature of the industry, perhaps it's time we listened.

I sincerely hope that I haven't taken Guinness' words out of context, given that in the same interview, she also expressed the deep upset she feels when she is misquoted by the press or her words are taken out of context.

"Thoughts are fluid and words are sticky? But sometimes it's like they try to tie you into knots."

Instead of passing judgment as to the validity or otherwise of the heiress' claims, I wanted to look at the pros and cons of Ms Guinness' argument regarding the death of fashion as synonymous with the death of grunge by revisiting what was good and not so good about the influence of grunge, as well as some of the great stuff that has followed.

When grunge is oh so good:

Grunge gone bad

Great fashion moments that have followed the grunge movement

Fashion movements may have become more fluid and, therefore less definable over the last decade, but that is not to say that there haven't been some fabulous moments in fashion over the last ten years, or that there aren't designers out there carving their own paths by creating unique and beautiful designs. Here are some of our favourites from the past year alone:

Richard Chai

Richard Chai's unique blend of surprising fabrics, architectural touches and a minimalist approach to form and shape lend his designs a distinctly modern feel that is both covetable and wearable. His pieces certainly mark a positive moment in fashion since the reign of grunge.

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou's use of bold graphics and hyperrealist fabrications sets her apart from the masses. In what I see as a real departure from the 'recycled past', her designs are truly unique and contain their very own special moment in fashion.

Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang has pioneered an oddly sexy sporty-tomboy aesthetic that many designers would struggle to make work, yet somehow he does it time and time again. Though it cannot be denied that Wang certainly draws influence from the grunge era himself, his approach to female fashion is truly unique and definitely worth a mention as a definable fashion moment to follow grunge.

There are undoubtedly pros and cons to Daphne Guinness' claim that there hasn't been anything real in fashion since grunge. I must admit that her words on the recent tendency to recycle fashion's past, for example, is nothing if not poignant.

"Fashion is not just about trends. It's about political history. You can trace it from the ancient Romans to probably until the '80s, and you can see defining moments that were due either to revolutions or changes in politics? But now we've been feeding on a sort of cadaver. At the moment, we're just endlessly recycling the past."

In the end though, fashion is by its very nature cyclical and perhaps there is nothing wrong with that. Note to self: avoid corporate fabrications and three piece suits at all costs.

Rosie Dalton

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