Daphne Guinness on Cheetah Hair and Isabella Blow’s Underappreciation

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Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images

I’ve been standing in the corner now for about 30 minutes, surreptitiously glancing at the lady I believe to be Daphne Guinness. I’m at a house of curiosities, a West Village townhouse filled with Chinese trinkets, antiques, and a star-painted ceiling that would make Hogwarts jealous. Amanda Lepore, Pamela Anderson, and Guinness (presumably) are all here to celebrate their favorite Bumble and Bumble stylist, Laurent Philippon, and his new book, Hair: Fantasy and Fashion.

Guinness’s signature black and white coned beehive make me 95 percent sure this is her. Then she pulls out a set of black professional headphones (not Beatz), hands her iPhone to her friend, ebulliently jumps up and down as he listens to a track, and I’m 99 percent sure it’s her.

Her eyes are large and expressive, her hair immobile. She’s wearing opaque tights, mini shorts, and a tuxedo jacket. She bends down to greet me and we talk about her hair, not being a pop star, and Isabella Blow not wanting her to wear her clothes.

How do you do your hair?

I’ve been dying it since I was very little, using peroxide. It’s very hit and miss. I’m normally working, so I have to dye my own hair. I’m pretty good at it, but I give myself chemical haircuts sometimes and go, “Oh shit.”

Then I have to go somewhere to get rid of the cheetah look. I wish I was Laurent. I just don’t have the time to go to the hairdresser every day, so I’ve learned how to do it myself. I maybe wash it every day. I usually do my own hair, unless I go to the hairdresser. It’s pretty dreadful. I’m Miss Bad Hair Day most of the time.

How important is your hair to your identity?

I had my hair dyed and cut off for a shoot three years ago and just got it back. I was surprised how much it affected me. My kids were walking past me and didn’t know who I was! Sometimes you don’t want to be noticed, but it’s not the coolest thing in the world. I can understand why Samson felt a bit weird.

How do you know Laurent?

We met in a wax museum in Ireland with David LaChapelle. I realized I was in for it when hair and makeup was being called. That night I had a bleeding eye and was in a see-through wedding dress. I had been 72 hours on the job and was about to collapse. But we had a blast! He told me about his book idea even then and I thought, this is something people really need to see. He’s so brilliant.

What happened to your eye?

Oh, that’s why I had those weird contact lenses for ages. I completed that shit last year.

How’s your musical career going?

I don’t know if it’s a career. But I love it. I’m a musician. I’m much more of a music person. I don’t want to be a pop star. I actually just came out of the studio. I’ve recorded [for] 36 days straight. That’s why I look so washed out and awful.

How do you feel with the imminent opening of Isabella Blow exhibit, based around pieces from your archives, opening this week at Somerset House in London?

I always jump into another process to avoid the last one. I love other people’s openings. I’m so happy that we have two students going through Central Saint Martins. It’s important to raise money for students of the arts, since they’ve been cut so much in America and Europe.

To me, [the exhibit] wasn’t about a funeral; it was about how they lived — Lee [Alexander McQueen] and Issy [Isabella Blow]. They were my friends. This was a promise I made to myself. I think I did what I needed to do. I’m just so happy that the whole family is back together again [working on this]. It’s putting a positive spin on something deeply negative.

How do you feel about Phillip Treacy’s comments this week? He said he felt that Isabella Blow wasn’t fully appreciated in her time.

No, definitely not! That’s why I was absolutely adamant that I needed to buy those clothes. I didn't know what I was going to do with them. I was a complete lunatic in the Barneys window. I didn't know what I was going to do with everything. But thank goodness for Louise Wilson, Valerie Steele, Somerset House, and her friends and family. They believed in me and knew I would do what I could.

I want [the exhibit] to be a positive experience. I want the students to be able to see Lee's first collection. That’s what she and Lee would have wanted. I’m thankful every day for the support I get from all the people. I'm not really a visual [person]. I don't really know that much about any of this [gesturing].

You should see the book — it’s beyond. Amanda [Harlech's] done it, Nick [Knight], and Sean [Ellis]. It’s just so great. It’s all the family back together again. It’s bringing back everything together when everyone had been blown apart.

But I’m happy to be out of all the publicity. I certainly didn’t want to wear Issy’s clothes. She would have killed me. She really would! She would have hit me with a thunderbolt, saying, "You can’t wear my clothes!"