CHELSEA — After Alexander McQueen's death last year, Daphne Guinness knew the entire scope of her upcoming exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology would change.
The 43-year-old Guinness beer heiress, a well-known icon in the fashion community, was a personal friend of McQueen and also an avid collector of his work, some of which has never been displayed publicly.
She had intended to put a sampling of her personal fashion collection into the FIT show, but with the obsessive attention devoted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's record-breaking McQueen exhibit earlier this year, she knew his works would take center stage.
"When we first started talking about it, Alexander was still alive," Guinness said at the exhibit's grand opening Friday, wearing a jacket made by the late designer. "This whole thing has taken on another kind of proportion."
The exhibit, now showing at the Museum at FIT, features dozens of dresses, shoes and even medieval armor-inspired outfits from Guinness' massive closets.
The new exhibit also shows off work done for Guinness by a variety of designers, including Azzedine Alaia and Karl Lagerfeld, but McQueen's expansive work is most prominently featured.
"He wasn't just about making clothes," said Guinness. "He was one's real friend. He was innately gifted."
The show also features some items designed by Guinness herself, and the fashionista said she hoped the clothing on display showed budding designers the kind of power fashion can have.
"Fashion itself — or clothing — marks different eras or times," she said. "You can definite decades. There's a whole new generation that hasn't seen that."
The exhibit runs until Jan. 7, 2012, at the Museum at FIT, Chelsea.