"I think I was born in the wrong kind of family," says Daphne Guinness. The eccentric style icon counts the Guinness brewery family as well as the legendary Mitford sisters among her ancestors. "I should have been born in the circus. I can't imagine not dressing like me."
But it's not just her McQueen blazers, skunk-streaked hair and outrageously high heel-less platform shoes that's on her mind when I meet her at her downtown New York workspace on this early spring afternoon. Today she's going to play me some of the music she's been quietly making since 2011, when she set out to record a Bob Dylan song in honor of her brother, who had passed away. Three years later, she has written 13 original songs -- with the help of legendary producer Tony Visconti -- that she says represent 13 chapters of her life. As she starts to play songs with titles like "Optimist in Black" and "Marionettes," I'm struck by the dark charm and poetry of her lyrics (dare I say I detected some iambic pentameter?) and by the fact that, instead of the electropop or acoustic folk sounds that fill up today's charts, Guinness' songs have a raw classic rock vibe and her voice has the power and grit of Grace Slick. "My musical world ended in 1980," says Guinness. "For me it was always classical -- Bach, Mozart and Chopin -- or Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Stones, Jefferson Airplane. But the big, big thing for me was the Doors."
As you might deduce from her musical tastes, Guinness has no desire to be a pop star -- she would hate to be performing to a track out onstage alone. She loves to sing with a band in the dingiest dives possible -- the kind of place where people drink Natty Light and really feel the music.
But fear not, fashion-obsessed Guinness fans, her music career hasn't driven her to desert her striking sartorial tastes. The celebrated photographer Nick Knight, known for elevating fashion shoots to fine art, made Guinness' first video for the song "Fatal Flaw," a trippy black-and-white affair, last year. She will follow it up with a video for "Evening in Space" directed by her good friend David LaChapelle, who has suggested she make a disco album next. Luckily, she seems to be a bottomless font of inspiration. "I still can't stop writing," says Guinness. "It's slightly strange, because I know I'll get writer's block at some stage." And unlike many of her elaborate fashion looks, her approach to making music is fairly simple: "I just think if it rhymes and it suits the purpose of the song, do it."
Post Production by Jim Alexandrou at 1514 / Special thanks to Akmal Shaukat