Daphne Guinness: a melodic memoir

20.10.2016 | Fashion , Music | BY:

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.

Daphne Guinness

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

Daphneguinness.com

Main photo credit: Jamie Kendall

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TASCHEN

The big Taschen book sale

26.01.2016 | Literature | BY:

To welcome 2016, Taschen books are launching a sale that will run from the 28th to the 31st of January. Taschen’s South London store – situated in Duke of York Square – will offer discounts of between 50-75% on displayed and slightly damaged titles, which will also be extended to their website www.taschen.com.

Originally known as Taschen Comics, the publishing house was established in 1980 by Benedikt Taschen to publish his extensive comic book collection. It has since become a force in making lesser-known art available to mainstream bookstores and in bringing subversive art into broader public view. Taschen has always embraced potentially controversial material alongside books that focus on subjects like art photography, comics, painting, fashion, film and architecture. Their reputation of producing more daring titles on fetishistic imagery, queer art, historical erotica and pornography has set them apart from traditional competitors, making Taschen the first stop for lovers of print, art, anthropology… and aphrodisia.

In its 35-year history, Taschen has garnered a global following and made headlines several times. It has produced the world’s most popular art book series, the introductory Basic Art Series, and has broken records with Helmut Newton’s SUMO – the most expensive book published in the 20th Century. Last year, Taschen introduced Art and Collectors Editions with models Gisele Bündchen and Naomi Campbell, photographer Bettina Rheims and music icon David Bowie. Join Taschen on the 28th of January as they celebrate many new, bold ventures for 2016, and indulge your artistic, or erotic, needs.

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finale

AW16 Men And Their Music

26.01.2016 | Fashion , Music | BY:

For as long as one can remember, men’s fashion has been inextricably linked – and obviously inspired by – music. So it was particularly significant that the autumn winter 2016 menswear shows that recently took over the fashion capitals of the world fell in the shadow of David Bowie’s tragic death.

David Bowie was not just a music icon, he was a cultural revolution. And it is hard, nay almost impossible, to find a single designer who has not paid reference to his work at some point in their career. From the likes of Burberry to Alessandro Michele at Gucci – this season’s AW16 shows were full of acknowledgements for the late star. The former had little time to do anything other than react to the news, and so models were sent down the runway with glitter shadowing their eyes, and even ‘Bowie’ scrawled across exposed palms. While a few days later at Gucci, a simple cardigan was emblazoned with the singer’s name, which is no surprise as it was the Italian fashion house who sponsored the V&A’s 2012 retrospective of his life and style.

But David Bowie, at heart of all the glitter, hair, disguise and self-expression, was a lad from Brixton. A south London boy who knew how to wear a skinny-cut suit. And as such, it was Paul Smith who really knew how to show his creative thanks with his AW16 offering.

Featuring a melee of those aforementioned skinny suits, ankle boots which snuggly snaked their way up trouser cuffs, paisley motifs and bold stripes which adorned both outwear and cashmere knits – it was a riot of British street style from the late ’60s and early ’70s. See how it all played out – but more importantly listen to the soundtrack which so perfectly accompanied it – below.

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Star Man

14.08.2012 | Blog | BY:

With his chiseled cheeks bones, laconic style and shifting alter-egos David Bowie was the perfect choice for so many films’ androgynous outsiders. From the icy cool of the Man Who Fell To Earth to the high camp of Labyrinth, his performances are legend.

From 31 August to 2 September the ICA are holding Bowiefest, a celebration of the rock star’s contribution to celluloid both as an actor and a musician.

With screenings of rare documentaries, as well as his most iconic films and with the likes of Alan Yentob, Nic Roeg and Jeremy Deller on hand to talk about Bowie, don’t miss this brilliant chance to get under then skin of a unique performer.

ica.org.uk

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The Duffy Diaries

27.03.2012 | Art , Blog , Fashion | BY:

From portraits to reportage and award-winning advertisements to Pirelli calendars, the images of Brian Duffy are an iconic documentation of decades past. Now the Proud Chelsea gallery is making a tribute to the photography legend, who passed away in 2010, by displaying a rare collection of his signed prints.

Starting his career in the Fifties as a freelance photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, Duffy went on to photograph the likes of Jean Shrimpton, John Lennon and David Bowie, most memorably for the cover of his Aladdin Sane album.

Duffy, alongside David Bailey and Terence Donovan – nicknamed the Terrible Trio by British press – innovated the style of documentary fashion photography by capturing the zeitgeist of Swinging London in the Sixties.

After making the decision to abandon still photography, the English photographer and film producer famously attempted to burn all of his negatives in 1979. Fortunately, a few priceless artifacts remain, making this exhibition both a poignant photographic homage and an unmissable visual experience.

Duffy: The Lost Portraits is on display until May 13 at Proud Chelsea, 161 King”s Road  London SW3 5XP.

duffyphotographer.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Twin Playlist: Hanna Hanra

06.12.2011 | Blog , Music | BY:

Twin’s December playlist comes courtesy of DJ and music mag editor Hanna Hanra. Having spent ten years djing across the globe and writing about music, Hanna now edits her own music paper BEAT, from a basement in Dalston. Born out of her love for music and images she says; “There wasn’t a music magazine that I liked, so it made sense to start one”. While the photography is always striking, it’s Hanna’s passion for sound that’s at BEAT’s core.“Without music my life would be very quiet. And very different. I listen to music constantly,” she says.

Twin asked Hanna to name nine of her favourite tracks…

1/ FEISTHow Come You Never Go There
This is just out and it’s brilliant. I love Feist – I love music that is happy and sad all at once – and this is a particulary good example of that. I will probably listen to this on repeat now.

2/ BLONDIERapture
The best pop song ever written.

3/ BLACK WIREHard To Love
I bought this record in Chicago not realising they were from Leeds…. and I bought it on the merit of the cover alone! It’s so good.

4/ BOWIEAlways Crashing The Same Car
I had a phase of only listening to Bowie. So picking my favourite is always hard. I love Ziggy Stardust, but Low is really my favourite album, it’s so weird.

5/ REMthe sidewinder sleeps tonight
REM was the first gig I went to see. I was 13!

6/ LATE OF THE PIER Bathroom Gurgle
This is incredible. They were so young when they did it too!

7/ MYSTERY JETSYoung Love

8/ YAZOOSituation

9/ DIANA ROSS & THE SUPREMESMy World Is Empty Without You (Drop Out Orchestra Remix)

Listen to Hanna Hanra’s Twin playlist here
thebeatjuice.com

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Rebel Rebel

15.08.2011 | Blog , Culture | BY:

Michael Clark artfully treads the line between rock and roll and classical dance. Over the past 26 years the post punk choreographer has put dance at the centre of contemporary culture in his collaborations with fashion designers like Bodymap and Hussein Chalayan and artists like Leigh Bowery and Sarah Lucas. Labeled the enfant terrible of the dance world his work has been performed by Ballet Rambert and the Paris Opera and has been set to the music of Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

In a striking new book eminent figures from the world of dance and beyond pay homage to the choreographer and images of his work by photographers such as Nick Knight and David Lachapelle, do glorious justice to Clark’s modern aesthetic.

Michael Clark edited by Suzanne Cotter, Michael Bracewell and 
Stephanie Jordan is published by Violette Editions in September 2011.
michaelclarkcompany.com

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