With a closet full of couture and a carefully maintained Cruella De Vil-esque coif to match, Daphne Guinness doesn’t exactly blend into the crowd. Neither does the heiress’ signature fragrance, which she’s been perfecting for years by mixing different oils and soaps. “I’ll be in airports or in a taxi and the driver will say, ‘What are you wearing?’” says Guinness coquettishly.
In September, the 41-year-old mother of three will be sharing her secret scent with the masses when Daphne, her new perfume collaboration with Comme des Garçons, hits stores including Barneys and Maxfield. WWD caught up with Guinness to talk about floral notes, lab time and leaving a fragrant trail.
This story first appeared in the July 30, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: Why are you so interested in perfume?
Daphne Guinness: It’s very difficult to describe in words. It’s a mystery.…Sometimes when you fall in love with people, you actually fall in love with their smell.
WWD: So what do you smell like?
D.G.: I don’t know. You’d have to ask someone else that. [But I do know] that I smell quite strong. The other day someone said they have a room [I was in] that smells like me a year later.
WWD: Can you describe the scent you wear?
D.G.: I have all these different oils and what I’ll do is cover myself in one thing and then I’ll spray another thing and then I’ll have absolutely no idea [what I have on]. But it’s pretty much always a woodsy and kind of jasmine-y, tuberose-y, sort of thing.
WWD: Where do you buy the oils and sprays?
D.G.: Markets and New Age shops. I really hate going to fragrance stores. They always try and spray you. And then it never comes off, even after four showers. I get so confused. They give you a sample and you really don’t want to be horrid [to the sales people], but it’s so awful.
WWD: How did the idea of you producing a fragrance come about?
D.G.: I met Adrian Joffe [chief executive officer of Comme des Garçons] and he said, “Well, would you be interested in doing a perfume with us?” And I said, “Golly, that’s so great, that’s so cool, but I know nothing about the technical aspect of this.”
WWD: What was the creation process like?
D.G.: It was like heaven for me. [But] it was also a huge learning curve.
WWD: You say perfume is an extension of your personal style. How would you describe your style?
D.G.: Regular. Stuff that fits.
WWD: But you’re wearing 7-inch platforms.
D.G.: They’re not uncomfortable. They just give the illusion of being uncomfortable.
WWD: What brands would you name as competitors of Daphne?
D.G.: God, I don’t know. I’ve never thought about any of this. I really haven’t, I swear. Don’t ask me about marketing or any of that because I have absolutely no idea. The only thing I can do is create. .