Daphne Guinness

Style, Stoicism, Optimism: Daphne Guinness's Perspective

Show Notes


Daphne Guinness is a style icon and creative force. Heiress to the Guinness brewing dynasty, she transcends her lineage as a fashion muse, designer, and philanthropist. Renowned for her avant-garde fashion sense—and her extraordinary couture collection—Guinness seamlessly blends artistry and eccentricity, distinctly weaving past sartorial narratives into the contemporary. Her collaborations with designers like Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh have left an indelible mark on the fashion world. But beyond fashion, she is a musician, and writer with a flair for the dramatic and the unexpected. A self-described pessimistic optimist, Guinness is an enigmatic persona and a captivating perennial figure in both high society and artistic circles worldwide.

Episode Highlights
  • Guinness says her formative years were a mixture of “art, stoicism, military thought, and surrealism.”
  • She’s interested in philosophy and the Stoics and calls herself happy to be an outcast.
  • As a child, she lived in a monastery in Spain with no other than Salvador Dali as a neighbor— “he put me up to make some of my best pranks as a child.”
  • On the pre-1999 era of Daphne Guinness, she says she was never a society wife, only a mother, hermetic.
  • Her friendship with magazine editor Isabella Blow, her relative “in spirit,” exposed her to things and people most people would only ever dream of or see in a film.
  • Guinness’s otherworldly aura and fantastical upbringing seems perfectly normal from her perspective.
  • She was mentored by David Bowie, who spotted her as a singer. She recently released “Hip Neck Spine,” which has a music video directed by the legendary Nick Knight.
  • Philanthropic efforts are crucial to her; Guinness sponsors a CSM scholarship every year.
  • She considers herself a pessimistic optimist, exhausted by putting her heart and soul into her art and music—she sees what’s contemporary as pessimism, but she’s “Team optimism.”
  • She sees the beauty in human error and process, saying, “I like to do things the old-fashioned way.”

Notable Quotes:

  • “The music was always there. Growing up in a moment in a monastery with a huge Chapel and me in the sacristy and my father on piano; how could I have ever been anything else? You know a musical gene is definitely in our family. I was supposed to be an opera singer before I got married. I did all the exams.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “I did all the kinds of things you were supposed to do, but I didn’t go to Guild Hall, which is actually probably a plus cause I have all the training up until that point. And then I didn’t get too academic about it. So I can still do all of those things, but I’m not confined within...academia can do some strange things to people, or you can’t step over certain lines.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “The thing is, one can complain about the terrible art and music all you want, or lots of people are very negative about things, but unless you’re willing to get into it and say, okay, so what would I do differently? This is what I would do differently.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “Bad politics seems to be very contemporary. That seems to be terrible. Yeah, anyway, don’t read the news. What seems to be contemporary? It seems to be pessimism, actually. That seems to be very contemporary, but actually, we need to change that to optimism.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “If you grew up in slightly wild surroundings, you get rather good at being solitary, and you read a lot of books, you learn how to fix a lot of things you can survive with very little.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “We had one television set at home, and I was exposed to things like Monty Python and Doctor Who, and the Cambodian War, alas, but it was more books and imagination. So I never saw myself as a character from a film, but that’s so funny that I probably missed that one.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “The first album I was so lucky because David Bowie, who shadow-produced that, became my mentor and guide, and we had so much in common. It was uncanny how much we had in common.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “It’s always an experiment each time with a photographer or a director to see how they see things or how they listen to music. I’m more of an ear person than a visual person. And it’s a commitment each time to see whether one’s still got it in oneself to give a performance.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “You know what’s so strange is, art at its best—it is a catharsis of pain or some unlived memory.” —Daphne Guinness
  • “I can be old school and new school right at the same time. Technology is the icing on the cake, but you have to get the cake right first.” —Daphne Guinness
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