Daphne Guinness is a woman who has little trouble turning heads. For years now she has been a fashion behemoth, attracting attention for simply existing. Akin, almost, to a mythical creature on whom sartorial enthusiasts project their likes and dislikes, her characteristically monochrome silhouette — all angles, hair and vertiginous heels — has become something of the caricature. And for the most part, silent. But now, Daphne has found her voice.
Back in 2011, following the gut-wrenching loss of some of her dearest friends and family — Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow amongst them — Daphne retreated from the fashion industry that had, in her words, left her feeling “burned”, and isolated herself in a secluded Irish landscape to record a cover of a Dylan track as some kind of cathartic release. However, what actually happened turned out to be rather different. The person she was meant to be working on the Dylan material with never showed up, and so instead, she wrote her own music. Flash forward to now, and she has an album out.
Speaking to the muse come musician on the eve of her first ever live show — an electric performance at the Natural History Museum for a Frieze Art Fair party hosted by Maurice Ostro CBE, Candida Gertler and the Louisa Guinness Gallery — the singer is remarkably calm, and unexpectedly candid. “I’m too honest,” she says, almost to herself.
Optimist In Black, her debut album, is by no means an easy listen. It is classic rock’n’roll story weaving, and plunges you into the depths of despair before soaring phoenix-like into almost jubilant territory. The title track is perhaps the darkest hour, and deservedly so, with its severe etchings of grief ringing out in every ‘60s-infused riff. “The album is completely what happened that year, in order.” Daphne tells us. “When I got to ‘Marionette’ [track five of 14] I had about four seizures and completely collapsed. Then I wrote ‘Optimist In Black’ [track seven], and went and got lost in Mexico.” The escape was undoubtedly needed. “At the time I thought if I do anything darker than ‘Optimist In Black’ then I’m going to kill myself. So I needed that. I got through it, and then I came back and wrote ‘Magic Tea’ [track 8, a pop song]. It was sink or swim,” she explains.
The Guinness sound is one born from pain, reflection and the resolution to find light in the darkest of times. It is determined in its subsequent dealings with life’s sucker punches, but ultimately, she is objective about her experiences. “I realise that everybody’s been through shit,” she says. “They’ve been through ups, downs, bad love affairs, death and disaster. I’m not really writing a unique version of the world here, these are basic human emotions that happen to everybody.”
When speaking about the losses she suffered, Daphne is frank. “It was like a magical time that abruptly ended,” she says. “It felt like dominos going down, down, down. And you can’t do anything. I thought, ‘you can’t just see everybody at funerals, crying their eyes out, and then you know you’re going to have to see them at some fucking party the next day, talking about something else.’ That’s why I started the initiative at Central Saint Martin’s and have tried to support people in terms of their mental health. Because to many people it’s just gossip, which is, you know…” Awful is the word unuttered, but hanging in the air nonetheless.
Credit: Jamie Kendall
Daphne has a knack of bringing something of meaning from truly bleak situations. Thanks to her creation of the Isabella Blow Foundation, she is putting two MA students through Central Saint Martins each year, as well as working with the Samaritans. This remarkable dedication to the nurture of talent is a continuous theme in Daphne’s life. Doing all these positive things “makes a little bit more sense” of the situation, she says.
And Daphne has always been a woman surrounded by and somewhat immersed in creative genius. From McQueen and Blow, to close collaborators such as Nick Knight and open-admirer Lady Gaga, she is a magnet for inextinguishable talent. Another such person, who influenced and encouraged Daphne a great deal, is Bowie. Although the musician is hesitant to discuss their relationship too much, for fear of capitalising on his legacy, it was he who set her up with her album’s producer: the legendary Tony Visconti. “Everybody’s talking about David at the moment and it [all] feels cheap.” She admits. “But he was incredibly supportive, and I always just thought: ‘But why me?’” She reluctantly continues, “He was the most remarkable person. And also, more simple than everybody gave him credit for. He was a very magical man.”
Despite having lived her life through somewhat of a lens, the stage isn’t Daphne’s natural home. “Yeah I’m very, very shy — strangely enough — but I’m getting better at it. I’m getting better at becoming someone else, when there’s a point to it, rather than just to be seen [performing].” Music is something of a shield, it seems. “I feel that you are protected in some sort of way by the art that you make, and by the people that you work with. And that’s fine.”
“What I don’t really understand,” she continues, “is what’s happened [to the music industry] in the last 20 years, where it’s all surface and there’s not much underneath… I’d much rather see almost nothing and hear what people actually have to say, rather than seeing just a whole lot of images.” She references YouTube and social media, and seems perplexed by the lack of authentic narrative, as well as the abundance of the visual above all else. For someone who has previously been so much a part of the aesthetic frontiers of society, it seems to be something of an about turn. “Fashion was a huge part of my life, but when all of that happened I thought ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” she reveals. “I sort of put myself into isolation and wrote this album instead.”
The sound that accompanies such a raw confessional is, as previously mentioned, a distinctively ‘60s one. Citing Marc Bolan as her “first big love” explains a lot about Daphne, although there are echoes of Nico and Faithfull too. For a woman who recounts making her album as a mix between “mad and brave”, and describes walking into the studio to record with her band thinking “Shit! What am I doing? I’m a complete amateur,” the result is incredibly accomplished. “I’m glad I didn’t know how difficult it was going to be, because I would never have done it,” she admits. “But I’m very glad I did. And I’m very glad I didn’t just do a cover of someone else’s song, because there are so many songs to be written.”
Optimist In Black is out now on Agent Anonyme/Absolute
South African Carla Fonseca is a woman with many strings to her bow. She is an actor, director and artist, but it is her role as lead vocalist for the group Batuk that sees her performing in the UK this weekend. With influences spanning afrohouse, soul, zouk, kuduro, deep house, techno and traditional African music, Fonseca is joined in Batuk by South African producers, beat makers, directors and visionaries Spoek Mathambo and Aero Manyelo.
Given her creative background, Fonesca was responsible for art directing Batuk’s musiv videos for ‘Daniel’, ‘Forca Forca’, ‘Puta’ and ‘Call Me Naughty’. In addition to this, she has also displayed her work at the likes of FNB ART Fair, Turbine Art Fair, Cape Town Art Fair, Basha Uhuru Festival, GIPCA’s Biannual Live Art Festival, and Johannesburg Art Week over the years. Here, Twin discovers more…
Welcome to the UK, you’re doing a few shows here right now…is this your first time performing here?
It is my first time in the UK, and our first time performing here as a group. Spoek and Aero have both played here many times before.
How would you describe what you do to a complete stranger?
I am a performance artist. A lover of all raw and honest performance work.
Is your music political? Does it have a particular message you’d like to convey? Isn’t everything political? Even a party song can be political. We have many messages in our music. It is important for an artist to have messages serve as through-lines in their work….or else it becomes weightless. It is our duty. In Batuk’s music we speak about love, war, sexuality, drug abuse, dreams, family, culture. Everything that is important to us, everything that we want to address and interrogate and express.
How does the music scene differ here in comparison with South Africa? The Internet is alive, which allows people from all over the world to share and be influenced at the click of a button. We are all connecting news, pictures, videos, rhythms and sounds so quickly…there are many things artists share purely based on rapid and wide information exposure. There’s an insanely dynamic buzz in South Africa that cannot be compared. A buzz brewed by 12-year-olds on laptops producing out-of-this-world music that receives 100,000 hits after only a week of uploading. Our many rich languages and cultures and links to neighbouring countries give us a really broad and direct access to diversification and constantly new, fresh material.
Would you call yourself a feminist? And what is feminist scene like in SA? Being a feminist has so many definitions these days, sometimes it confuses me. So I will answer by saying that I am a person who supports the rights of women and girls and their incredible power. It is a wonderful and revolutionary time to be female in South Africa….a time where young women are standing up and taking their positions as leaders and as power sources. A time where patriarchal structures are really struggling to stay standing. In my work I am constantly creating protest pieces in honor of women and their struggles and their victories.
There is an essence of strong, very visual artists such as MIA and Solange in a few of your videos – the sense of identity and power are palpable. How do you come up with the concepts? And do they ever differ in reality? Hahahaha…I think women with bold ideas and good execution will most likely be compared to one another. They are both two incredibly phenomenal women, I’m flattered. Batuk’s concepts are all honest expressions…if we have an idea, we work together to make it as strong as possible…visceral and beautiful. My art imitates life, and life reciprocates the gesture.
How have you found the industry to be so far? Have you encountered much bullshit? I’m not into bullshit, I don’t accept it. If you bring bullshit anywhere near me, I move. Like any industry there is a lot of shit, but the objective should always be to stay focussed by not entertaining anything negative or anything that tries to come against you and your passion.
Who else, musically or creatively, is exciting you right now? There’s an artist/painter by the name Alexa Meade, she has recently just created work titled Color of Reality. It’s so incredible how her work absorbs me into a dream world. She is famous for inventing a technique that optically transforms the 3-dimensional world into a 2-dimensional painting. Absolutely insane and captivating work.
What should fans expect from your live shows? Expect a lot of energy…a lot of good, powerful, uplifting energy. An energetic exchange that’ll have them busting dance moves that they never thought they had!
Batuk will tour Europe this September and October, with a headline show at London’s Jazz Café on October 15th.
Harriet Horton is heading to Paris. But not before she lets UK-based fans of her brand of taxidermy take a look at the new collection – ‘Camouflage’ – at her London studio.
Having beens fans of Harriet’s work for some time now, firstly becoming enamoured with her ‘Sleep Subjects’ exhibition of 2015, Twin is excited to see such an exciting and irreverent artist continue to develop.
Harriet Horton, Owen, 2016
For 2016 the signature neons are still gleefully present, but there is a new, multi-textured element to the works. Materials such as marble dust and cement have been introduced, and create a staggering contrast to the exquisite delicacy of the taxidermy itself, transcending each piece onto an almost angelic plane.
“I’ve always said that when animals are deceased their natural colouring and camouflage becomes redundant,” Horton explains. “I have explored this idea further [for ‘Camouflage’] by either using animals that have no existing markings or stripping them of their original colouring and reconstructing it with light.”
It is fitting then, that a city such as Paris, which is so often known for both its light and its love, should be host to such a stunning example of the two used to breathtaking effect. Unmissable beauty.
‘Camouflage’ opens at the mi* gallery in Paris on 26th October, and runs until 16th January 2017.
Harriet will be holding a private view of the new work at her studio, Darnley Road Studios, on 29th September.
Known for his social commentary artwork, London-based artist Antony Micallef has produced his latest pieces entitled, ‘Trump Fags’ for the non-profit organisation, Peace One Day. Now available via Paddle8, Trump Fags were made as a triptych and feature miniature oil paintings of Donald Trump on the front of Marlboro cigarette packets.
The project was curated by ambassadors of Peace One Day, Jude Law and Jake Chapman and has seen other leading artists such as Marc Quinn, Sir Antony Gormley and Tim Noble & Sue Webster donating artworks. All proceeds will go directly to the organisation that promotes peace in areas of conflict.
Artwork now live on Paddle8.com and running till the 5 October.
Londoners: if you only do one thing before 27 September – make it this.
To mark the release and subsequent immediate sale of its SS17 collection, British heritage brand Burberry has joined forces with The New Craftsmen to bring a pop-up curated artisan haven to Soho for one week only: Makers House.
Free to the public, and with the addition of a scaled-down version of the brand’s Regent Street eatery Thomas’s, which is set pouring out onto a picturesque courtyard dotted with busts and sculptures, the exhibition is a celebration of the craft and inspiration behind the latest collection. The clothes themselves are also situated in glorious catwalk formation to be browsed and bought at leisure on the first floor.
With interactive displays from the roster of The New Craftsmen represented makers, working away on their individual trades, such as sculpture, embroidery and silk-screen printing, the show spans a series of rooms inspired by Nancy Lancaster’s interiors, referencing prints from the SS17 collection.
In addition to all this, there are interactive elements, such as daily readings from a hand-picked selection of actors and actresses, each of which are based around Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, which was a poignant note of reference for spring summer. There is also a photographic studio, in which visitors can receive a professional portrait of their time at the event, but be warned: the queues are long and it tends to shut early each day.
Overall, however, it is an immersive and memorable discovery – nestled away from the continuous hustle of the city. And more than deserving of your time.
Burberry’s Makers House is located at 1 Manette Street, London, W1D 4AT – and runs until 27 September 2016. Opening hours are 10am-7pm and entry is free.
Flowers, friendship and the work of Hilma Af Klint were at the root of Paul Smith‘s charming Spring Summer 2017 collection this London Fashion Week.
With a considered floral base serving as the contemporary canvas for his latest wares, the much-loved designer presented look after look of effortless, oversized suiting, voluminous dresses and graphic accessories which, quite literally, bloomed before the eye.
While the silhouette may have been maximal, the styling was far less so, with the bold pieces themselves needing little in the way of overworking. A riot of colour, shape and texture ensured that while the concept of flowers and spring is not a new one, Smith’s treatment of it couldn’t have been fresher.
Just in time for London Fashion Week, Miu Miu is offering customers the chance to personalise their bags with a large selection of free-spritited badges. Calling the project ‘CustoMIUzation’, it is a novel and interactive idea which enables shoppers to truly make a piece of the brand their own.
The choice of how to customise the madras leather and denim bags is completely at the discretion of the customer, with the patches on offer including the now iconic Miu Miu stars, varsity-style motifs as seen on the AW16 catwalk and adorable wording such as LOVE, KISS and FOREVER.
The process of adorning each bag will be carried out by a dedicated artisan, flown in especially from Italy, and take around 30 minutes to complete. With up to 12 badges to add, one suspects that the majority of the time will be spent deciding on the look to go for. As ever, Miu Miu has kept exclusivity at the forefront of their minds, and as such, there will only be a limited number of bags available. So don’t delay…
Miu Miu ‘CustoMIUzation’ will take place from the 16th September at the Miu Miu New Bond Street store for a limited period only.
For 27-year-old photographer Kasandra Enid Torres, community is at the heart of the arresting and wholly joyous work she produces. Originally from South Florida, by way of Puerto Rico, Torres now resides in New York’s Washington Heights, and regularly shoots the kids in her neighbourhood.
This latest project, the ‘Afropunk Brooklyn’ series, is a collection of special moments brought to life in vivid colour. When Twin caught up with Torres, she described the atmosphere of the festival in which the images were created as “amazing”, with the crowd being “super chill and open”. She continued: “One of the days in the festival there was this DJ mixing some beats and everyone just really got in it. There was this amazing energy of everyone going with the beats and a sense of acceptance and joy. One of the shots is from this moment – it’s of a girl dancing.”
When asked what she believes the project portrays, Torres was thoughtful in her response, “I think it conveys feelings of power, pride and beauty.” And when further questioned about the resulting images, in comparision with her initial expectation of them, she replied: “Somewhat, if anything it showed me more about people.” Take a look for yourself below.
Seeking to explore “those relationships between artist and subject that exceed creative companionship and are based on inextricable, emotional ties”, the exhibition is as raw and visceral as it is complex. Pushing past the usual constraints of mere beauty or staging, the works feature parents, lovers, siblings and friends, and offer an unfiltered insight in the relationship that exists between the capturer, and the captured – on both sides of the lens.
Colby Hewitt by Sandy Kim
In this show, it is both the photographer and the muse who are to be recognised as artists. It is a symbiotic display that proves that in order to convey something with genuine feeling, both parties have to be fully alive and present in the moment. Do not miss it.
‘More Than A Muse’ runs from 11th-18th September, at 65 Ludlow St, New York. Email email@example.com for further info.
For the first time, the maison of Louis Vuitton has unveiled a series of seven fragrances, created by master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud. The accompanying campaign, shot by Patrick Demarchelier, features the sultry gaze of Palm d’Or-winning actress Léa Seydoux.
Of the range of scents in the premier collection – ‘Rose des Vents’, ‘Turbulences’, ‘Dans la Peau’, ‘Apogée’, ‘Contre Moi’, ‘Matière Noire’ and ‘Mille Feux’ – a full journey of emotions, from dark to light and self-revelation is the aim.
In keeping with the brand’s history of, and with, travel – Demarchelier and Seydoux journeyed to South Africa to shoot the coinciding ads, and wanted the wet-haired nonchalance of adventure to add to the purity of the actress’s natural beauty, mirroring the simple ethos of the perfumes themselves.
“Louis Vuitton is about travel, but it’s also about dreams. Its spirit blends adventure, discovery and emotion. I am very honoured to embody this universe.” – Léa Seydoux