Daphne Guinness, Artist and Musician


"I was a very mystical child. A dreamer, a romantic. I was kind of the one who disappeared for hours on end and collected beetles and would come back for food every once in a while. I’m afraid that’s still me. I dress the same way whether I’m going onstage or not. I’ll wear a catsuit onstage and a catsuit offstage—I’m always me! I was always interested in the visual arts and in music and divisions of that—like literature—because of the idea of being able to disguise yourself. It had a lot to do with the music I was listening to or the mood I was in, because I planned to make music a career. The Doors and The Beatles were artists I really liked, along with Bach—who is very Door-sy in a way. [Laughs] I still love classical as much as I love rock ’n’ roll. So I did a lot of music classes and when I graduated, I was going to apply to Guildhall, which is like the English equivalent of Julliard. But I didn’t because I chose a different path—I got married. I was just 19. Life took a slightly different course. I didn’t go to uni—just the University of Life, I’m afraid.

I had my first child at age 20. I carried on listening to music but I wasn’t around many other people—everything sort of went on hold when I became a mother. I was living in New York, my two boys went to a preschool on 68th Street. But I don’t think I changed that much. I always liked the creativity of fashion. I’ve always been very keen in seeing what underground [music] kids are up to, and it’s been important to me to champion that. Fashion and creativity is something deeply civilizing and human in that it separates the human race from animals. The fact that one can dye one’s hair and wear clothes and everything marvelous—I absolutely believe that’s the upside of being a human.

My first memory with beauty was probably the glam rock stuff. I started dying my hair when I was 11, and it started with a bottle of peroxide. My natural hair color I haven’t seen for years. I was very, very blonde when I was tiny, and then it was blonde and dyed dark underneath. Then I dyed it red underneath, then purple…in the end it was just easier like this. It was quite drastic. Now I have my lovely colorist David Johnstone, whom I met when I lived at The Carlyle for a few years—that’s where he works. He does [the black and white] very carefully because you don’t want the colors to bleed into each other. He’ll do the roots at different points and then wash it separately.

I shampoo and condition with Kerastase—I’ve used that for years. I wash my hair and then I backcomb all up, back first and front last. I kind of like it out of my face—today someone else helped me. I can do it myself, but it takes longer. I use Bumble and bumble’s Semisumo Wax, which smells delicious. I’m very sensitive to smell, so if something doesn’t smell great, I can’t put it on. Sometimes I take my hair down at night, but I am able to sleep with it up.

I always wash my face at night with a soap called Wright's Coal Tar soap, and I love it but everyone thinks it’s disgusting. It makes me feel very clean. I do use a Clarisonic sometimes, that’s my thing. Afterward, I’ll use SK-II Essence, and I’ve got some La Mer serums as well—I’ve just got to remember to put them on. If I do moisturize, it’ll be a serum instead of cream, because I like things that are light and liquid-y. There’s a retinol that I got the other day called DDF—it’s really good. I get ready for bed by watching the news, reading a book, and going to sleep. I often re-read my same old books, like Hamlet. I’ll wash my face, put that retinol on, and go to sleep.

If I have problems with my skin I go see Dr. Brown. My skin is oily—though, when you get older, I suppose your skin gets a little drier. You get spots and lines stuff, but I guess that’s part of being a human being.

When I wake up in the morning, I wash my face with the same soap. I always terrified I’m going to break out in spots if I put moisturizer on. Sometimes, I just put on some light foundation as a moisturizer. I’ve been using Make Up For Ever Foundation, as well as the MAC foundation that’s water-based. I put the foundation on my hands and I smudge it around. Or, I skip the foundation and do a light BB cream or something. I do use a bit of concealer, Benefit's are pretty good. I use it on my under-eyes and nose. I also love this pouf and translucent powder from Clé de Peau. I use it to set everything. For my brows, I dye them, or I use the Anastasia Brow Definer in Medium Brown. At night, I use hot water and it comes right off.

On my cheeks, I wear a Nars blush in Impassioned. It’s a very neutral, bronzy blush. Sometimes I’ll just put a lipstick on and blend it in. I like my Nars lipsticks, but I also like to put a little bit of foundation over [my lips] and then put gloss on top. The thing about lipstick is that if you have a microphone, you don’t want to get lipstick all over it. When I do, I like Hourglass Confession Lipstick in a berry red with the Too Faced Melted Lipstick in Can’t Touch This. Model in Bottle lipstick sealer makes it stay.

For eyeshadow, I’ve got this Tarte Clay Play Palette, and I have the Marc Jacobs 116 Innocent eye palette [Editors note: Discontinued]. I love neutrals—grays to browns. Last night, I did a black cat-eye and I’m starting to put [more makeup] on in the daytime, just a little, because it’s fun. But when I’m in a hurry to get to the studio, I just put on sunglasses and I’m good.

I do love going to Sephora, that is so much fun. I love buying skincare and makeup stuff, but I have to remember that it sitting in my bathroom cabinets isn’t going to do anything—I actually have to apply it. [Laughs]

Sometimes I’ll make my own scent. I mix a whole bunch of oils in industrial sized glass bottles—it can’t be plastic because of the smell. Once you find a good supplier, you can get them in bulk. The Comme des Garçons scent I have is a version of [the one I collaborated on], but a bit different. When I was small, I used to press tuberoses that I would get from my mom onto baking paper with petroleum jelly. After a few days, you get a kind of tuberose-flavored balm. That’s a difficult one to find, which is why I like to make it myself.

When I go to the gym, I like to use the elliptical, I like to swim and do yoga. I like to be active. I do take supplements sometimes—Vitamin D and zinc are the ones I try to take. But the one thing I always remember to do is music. [Laughs] Everything else changes."

—as told to ITG