Quote of Note | Rebecca Mead on Daphne Guinness

“Guinness was very close to her grandmother [Diana Mitford], although she was appalled by her politics, and was with her when she died, in Paris, in 2003. She remains dismayed that Diana never publicly recanted her admiration for Hitler, whom Diana had got to know in the thirties after travelling to Germany to visit her sister Unity, who had become part of der Fuhrer’s inner circle. ‘My grandmother had grown up in the countryside, and she hadn’t been to school, and then she goes to Germany, and Unity is there, and then she becomes very, very friendly with him,’ Guinness said. ‘I can’t imagine he was charming—he’s the most uncharming person I’ve ever seen, Hitler.’ She recalled discussing the matter with Diana. ‘I said, “Granny, it just can’t be right,” and she just said, “He didn’t photograph well.” She said he was very, very funny.’ When the war broke out, Diana spent three years in London’s Holloway prison. ‘She told me she read a lot of Racine,’ Guinness said. Meanwhile, when Britain declared war on Germany, Unity Mitford shot herself in the head. ‘Why didn’t Unity shoot Hitler instead of herself?’ Guinness said. ‘Then we’d be descended from heroes instead of villains.'”

Rebecca Mead, writing in the September 26 issue of The New Yorker about fashion icon and “precarious beauty” Daphne Guinness, who is the subject of an exhibition on view through January 7, 2012 at the Museum at FIT