May 03, 2011 12:00AM

Dressing for McQueen

Daphne Guinness dresses in Barneys window for McQueen-themed Met Ball.

The annual Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala was held last night in New York, this year themed Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. The timing couldn't be more appropriate, after Princess Catherine donned a gown by Sarah Burton for McQueen at last Friday's royal wedding.

To coincide with the McQueen retrospective, the Honourable Daphne Guinness - and fellow fashion eccentric - offered herself as performance art in the famed windows of Barneys' Madison Avenue Flagship. As the crowning moment of the department store's Fashion as Art installation, the heiress and couture collector gussied up for the Gala before a hoard of eager onlookers. When asked beforehand about her window-dressing display, Guinness told the New York Times, "I am not doing a burlesque - no way - I am going to be getting dressed behind something. I'm not Dita Von Teese, nor shall I be."

Slinking across the Barneys window, Guinness treated crowds to an interpretive dance before disappearing behind a screen, as promised. When she re-emerged, she was wearing a stunning, feathered McQueen gown. The spectacle lasted a mere seven minutes before the heiress was whisked from Barneys to the Gala in a vintage 1970s Mercedes convertible.

Guinness' stint in the world of performance art is the ultimate tribute to the late Lee McQueen, whose designs have often been likened to artistic masterpieces. This year's paradoxical theme for the Met Ball aptly captures the very essence of McQueen, an avant?garde designer who explored beauty where others dared not venture.

The event's host, Anna Wintour, is the mastermind behind the party and guest list each year. This year she hand-picked Colin Firth and Stella McCartney among her celebrity co-chairs for the ball, with Fran

Rosie Dalton

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