Blow’s clothes are still in London, in storage. “I’ve got a couple people doing the first round, sorting it out,” Guinness says. “I’ll do the second myself, figure out what’s what. It’s tough, a little bit. I do think, ‘Where are you, you’re supposed to be here. You checked out on me, why?’ ” She looks out the window—it’s been a hard couple of years, between the deaths of Blow and McQueen, another close friend. “I thought he had turned a corner, and then his mother died,” she says. In some ways, she was trying to honor McQueen, Blow’s discovery and fashion soulmate, by buying the collection. “I know he would have been horrified with the auction,” she says. “This is Issie’s art. This is her body.”
Guinness is not planning to wear Blow’s things. She’s hoping to facilitate their trips around the world, on exhibit at museums and galleries. “I think it’s too much for me to wear them,” she says. “I’m me, and she was her, and that’s cool. Maybe once … ” She trails off, then smiles a bit. “There is this one hat she had, of a Chinese garden, that I really love. It’s such a fantastic piece.”
Blow’s and McQueen’s deaths are part of why Guinness has been spending time in New York. “London gets me incredibly depressed these days,” she says. But she’s also found the city hospitable to her brand of fashion. She’s starring in Nars’ fall ad campaign instead of the French bulldog they used before (they’ve named their royal-purple eye shadow after her), and has produced her own perfume for Comme des Garçons, along with a short film, Mnemosyne (memory, in ancient Greek), featuring a woman in a kind of embryonic sac falling slowly toward a silver coral reef. “It took three weeks to edit the film in the special-effects studio,” she says excitedly. “I even fainted in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere, because I was so obsessive about the whole thing.” She’s made a film herself as well, The Phenomenology of Body, in which women from different eras, from Eve to Madame Mao, spin around slowly against a black background to an LCD Soundsystem song.
Guinness is also making her own clothes, though she doesn’t know “if I want to get on that treadmill,” she says. “I’ve got such a backlog of projects I want to do, and it is an undertaking.” In her apartment, her closets are stuffed with Chanel evening gowns and futuristic Gareth Pugh trousers, as well as her own creations, like a neckpiece of crows’ feathers and faille, which she models in her hallway, stepping back and forth on her carpet like a catwalk queen. “These feathers are so warm,” she says, pulling the piece closer around her neck. “Think about a down jacket, and it feels the same way.”
She carefully places the feathers back in their black mesh packaging and runs over to her shoe closet, where Louboutin platforms sit side by side with “hooker shoes made beautiful” that she’s bedazzled herself, underneath stacks of white and black top hats she’s found at vintage stores. On one ledge, there’s even a plastic bag of eyeballs. She grabs the bag with one hand. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with these,” she says, laughing a little. “But I’m sure I’ll figure something out.”