Daphne Guinness for MAC

Introducing Daphne Guinness for MAC Available December 26, 2011 through February 9, 2012.


This is the first glimpse into the palette and colours imagined and created by Daphne Guinness. Daphne is her art. This is part of her discovery and evolution. “This collection is a window into my imagination.”


Let’s go to the beginning, for you personally. Can you tell us about some of your first experiences with cosmetics?

Well to be honest, there wasn’t much makeup around when I was growing up! I never really thought of it. But I was always painting. Let me see…Did I paint myself? I tried to make myself look Japanese…I had a Japanese nanny, and I love the Japanese aesthetic, so I remember trying to achieve that look. But instead of makeup I would use watercolours or acrylics or anything I could get my hands on. Sometimes I would paint pictures on my face, on my eyelids or whatnot. Now if I want to do something like that I go over to the M·A·C Pro Shop in Canada and get these pigments that make your skin really white and pearly. You can use them on your body as well.

I was always fascinated by makeup. My mother didn’t wear any at all and I always thought that was such a great loss because it seems to me that the only point of being a human being is being able to transform the way you look!

So what did you think when M·A·C approached you for this collaboration?

I’ve always loved M·A·C. I’m obsessed with the Lipglass and the Mascaras. I’d often go into the M·A·C shops to play with the brushes and such, but for this, to be able actually to have some kind of input on a project? I felt it was a great opportunity. And of course M·A·C and I have mutual friends. My dear friend Issy did a Lipstick – she was terribly excited about that – and another great friend, David LaChapelle, always had a good time shooting for M·A·C. And I always just thought it was such a cool company. I even remember when it first came on the scene, I thought, ‘great, finally something new for a change.’

Tell us a bit about your creative process as it pertains to this collection.

I was in the Beverly Hills Hotel – and let me tell you there’s always some mad project going on in my bedroom when I’m there, ha! I had parchment papers spread all over the floor and all sorts of different powders and watercolours that I was mixing together and my finished pieces were drying on the balcony. I was painting for so long on that floor. When I’m given a task, I take it really seriously. I start with the raw materials and mix them and all the while I imagine art references and try to consider the Old Masters and try to figure out how they mixed this colour or that colour. Then, when the pieces were done, I packed them all in my suitcase to show M·A·C. Maybe it all sounds strange, but I’m always playing with colours and pencils and paints. I do it all the time! For me a recurring theme in my work is history and the universe – the smallest things and the largest things and I explore that through colour. The process that I’m always in.

Where do you think your instinct for colour comes from?

I think it all has to do with light and the places I grew up. Of course the light is different in Ireland from that in London, and it’s really extraordinary in Cadaqués in the north of Spain. When you have a storm the clouds come out from behind the mountains and make these extraordinary shapes and when the sun hits them from a certain angle it makes a beautiful light. When you look at Dali’s paintings, that’s not him being surreal, that’s him painting from life because that’s what it looks like! I’m very sensitive to light change – I’ll start jumping up and down when the sun begins to set because of the way it goes an orange colour when it comes through my windows because it’s so beautiful. And I hate bad light. When I go in some place and the overhead light is neon it gives me a headache. I’m obsessed with light because without it, you can’t have colour.

Speaking of colour, can we please discuss your hair? Everyone is obsessed!

They are!? Oh gosh. Well what happened was that it’s all an accident. First I dyed the underneath red. At that point it was less baby blonde on the top – it was very white when I was a child and then it went darker as it does. Anyway I dyed it red, then darker red, then plum, then I went to purple, then darkish blue; so at this point it’s not quite black. And the kind of whitest shade of blonde on the top happened by mistake gradually in different salons. Anyway this is what I ended up with! I’m not sure what will be next. I like to experiment. And I do like my hair to be done, it is civilized!

Are there any specific historical or fashion references that directly influenced this collection?

The thing is I don’t like to copy anything and I really try to come up with something completely new. Of course, you have to work with things that are in your frame of reference, but I really aim to create a new colour or at least a new configuration of colours together. As Degas said, “You have to copy and recopy the masters,” but you can only do that for so long and then you have to do your own thing. Otherwise you’re only going backwards and not forward. So I try to take my references from the past and bring them into the present and make them relevant again. I tend to like classic things that you can use many times instead of fads; trends annoy me actually. There’s one thing in loving beautiful things and admiring people’s creations, but a trend? I quite prefer things to move forward, but to exist as a pinnacle of quality.

As for more specific references I would reiterate my love for the Old Masters: Titian, Zurbarán Michelangelo. And I might say that I’m absolutely fascinated by butterflies and outer space. Blimey, I have pictures from the Hubble space telescope and some of those are just extraordinary, and if you look very closely at a butterfly’s wings or even perhaps a jellyfish, you’ll see there are similarities. I mean, I’m not being mad, just have a look! It just absolutely blows my mind.

What are some of your favorite pieces from the collection?

Well for instance, I’m quite proud of the Hyperion Nail Lacquer. It resembles this almost grey, steely light that is pure Whistler from the 1890s when he still had fog in the paintings. The shade is so beautiful and it also reminds me of a celadon-coloured antique Chinese porcelain vase. Porcelain in that colour is rather compelling. There’s something about these sorts of shades that I find quite lovely, and you’ll see that this collection is all about cool tones. I’m not a real primary colour person, and warm colours do not become me. Anyway we can’t all be bouncing along the beach looking sunkissed. I’m never gonna be that girl. I wish, but it ain’t gonna happen! I’m just not great with browns or terracottas and perhaps aside from daffodils, I think yellow is bad luck. I hate canary diamonds with a passion!

You’re known as a patron of couture when it comes to fashion. Would you call this a couture cosmetics collection?

Oh certainly. Couture means handmade, and I mixed the colours by hand and really, really, really put a lot of thought into them! It’s been one very happy experience and I’ve had such a nice time. The only thing I missed is I wanted to be right there in the factory. I would love that. The process is just everything to me. You see, before I was speaking to you I was literally in my bathroom mixing up products and smashing them about! I’ve learned so much and I’m having so much fun with makeup.


Senior Vice President and Creative Director M·A·C Worldwide

Can you give us the background on how the Daphne Guinness collection came about?

Oh well, I’ve had my eye on her for a long time! I mean, you see photos of her out and about and really, there’s no one more chic. We were also drawn to her because she’s out there doing very original projects; dressing windows at Barney’s, staging her own funeral and so on. Everything she’s involved in is done in such an elegant way. For her to join us as part of a very high fashion collection is just appropriate, and more than an honour.

What was your first meeting like?

When she walked into the office for the first time to talk about the collection we were all just blown away. You instantly understand how seductive she is as a person. Suddenly, you’re in love with her because she looks so incredibly chic and the clothes and the hair and all the jewellery is real…it’s visual overload!

But beyond the superficial, she’s also really smart. Her demeanor is modern and glamorous, and interestingly, she almost has a low-key feline quality about her in that she’s mysterious and yet reveals a level of transparency at the same time. So before you know it, you’re kind of hooked and you want more. She really does embody that archetypal eccentric aristocrat – the one that we’re all fascinated by.

Did you have to provide her with any direction in terms of designing this collection?

We didn’t really guide her. Certainly we talked to her about product categories, but we didn’t give her any instruction in terms of colour development. She has a very stylish way of looking at colour and she’s also opinionated about texture, so the process was quite easy.

So she was a natural?

Well she loves makeup; she mixes her own fragrance and she’s very experimental. When we first started working on colours, she pulled a tiny watercolour case out of her handbag and, using her own saliva, began mixing colours immediately! She gets very excited about the creative process. She also named many of the shades. Obviously, she’s extremely well read and very much an intellectual and possesses amazing visual references from which to pull. The result is a collection of colours that are so beautiful and quite sophisticated.

It was also impressive that she didn’t look at any competitive products; she created original colours and yet was also very conscientious about creating a collection that people could relate to.

She has a very distinct look. What are your thoughts on her visual aesthetic and how it relates to this collection?

I mean, look at her hair. She really knows how to wear her look, and right now she’s into a lot of these cool tones that you see in the collection. Maybe yesterday she could have been wearing a lot of reds and mandarins, and she may change her palette again, but this collection is about what she’s in love with right at this moment. It’s indicative of how creative people go through all sorts of different phases and this is where her colour sensibility lies right now. And it’s so good for our customers as there’s nothing like it on the market. Our fans look to us for the newest, most cutting-edge collections and this is so very representative of that.

As an addition to the esteemed roster of past M·A·C collaborators, what specifically does Daphne Guinness bring to the table?

Daphne represents couture on the highest level: she is living the moment, living the life. When she arrives at an event you can’t keep your eyes off her. Her persona is beyond definition; she’s timeless and yet personifies modernity.

Guinness is an artist, curator and journalist, but perhaps she is best known in the fashion and beauty realm as a patron of couture. How does this relate to this collaboration?

It is absolutely a couture collection because it’s so personal as opposed to trend-oriented. It truly epitomizes how M·A·C and Daphne feel about this particular collection. As I said, she’s really out in the world and therefore she has an innate point of view that connects with trends; it’s in her and she’s absorbed by it. But here, the colours come together in a more natural way, which is why there’s such authenticity to the collection.

It’s akin to the idea that the most fantastic couture designers could not care less what trends are hot at the moment and are more about creating something that reflects their imagination. This collection is like buying an original, a one-off; that’s why it’s so special. It is truly our couture moment.

PIGMENT Aurora Pinked taupe (frost)

Circa Plum Frosty dirty mid-tone lavender(frost)

Nebula Dark greyed brown with pearl (frost)

$20.00 U.S./$24.00 CDN


Warp Speed Light silver

Red Dwarf Blue-pink

Seasoned Plum Mid-tone lavender

Approaching Storm Deep rose

$17.00 U.S./$20.00 CDN

CREMESHEEN GLASS Borealis Pale grey pink with iridescent pearl

Japanese Spring Pale dirty pink

Narcissus Dirty eggplant

Richly Revered Deep brown plum

$18.50 U.S./$22.00 CDN


Grey Utility Uniform grey


EYEBROWS Fling Light taupe ash blonde

Stud Deep rich blackened brown


EYESHADOWX4 Interior Life Quad Stratus Light pink(matte)

Interior Life Mid-tone grey blue(veluxepearl)

Bruised Sky Dark lavender-y grey (satin)

Heather Belles Dark charcoal/carbon (satin)

$38.00 U.S./$45.00 CDN

BLUSHOMBRÉ Azalea Blossom Light cool pink

Vintage Grape Mid-tone violet pink


CDN NAIL LACQUER Hyperion Light grey blue green (crème)

Endless Night Pale grey pink with iridescent pearl (frost)

Blueblood Deep eggplant (crème)

$15.00 U.S./$18.00 CDN

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