Premiere: “Marionettes” by Daphne Guinness

The masked muse gets darkly personal in this song and video production

British-Irish fashion muse Daphne Guinness (of the Irish dry stout family), known for appearing in heel-less hoof shoes and haute couture pieces, does her bravest public act yet with the release of her first-ever album Optimist in Black, arriving later this May. Singing has been something that’s been kept close and personal, ever since giving up her spot at London’s music academy Guildhall. Decades later, Guinness is ready to share. Premiering on CH is Guinness’ music video for her song “Marionettes”—and if you’re expecting some blasé pop, prepare to be quite taken by surprise.

Her love of classical music shines through the string orchestration, which sets the tone of the song. When Guinness first appears, her enunciation of each word drips with tension—and it’s like she’s singing to you, only you, on stage in an empty theater. But the song soon erupts into a rock opera-style chorus that channels the glam of David Bowie, plus the melodramatic darkness and theatricality of Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge.” (Tony Visconti, the longtime Bowie collaborator, produced Optimist in Black, along with Irish producer Pat Donne).

Though Guinness set the bar high for herself in the David LaChapelle-directed video for her previously released song “Evening in Space,” (in which she copulates with a fusion-colored alien at the end), with “Marionnettes,” she’s created something that feels like only something Daphne Guinness could and would do. In the black-and-white video, the singer dons art-objet masks created by London-based Norwegian artist Magnhild Kennedy, aka Damselfrau, and pieces from couture designer Ada Zanditon; all the while never letting her gaze stray from the camera’s eye. Within the piece is a working Praxinoscope, a 19th century animation device, built by artist Ben Ashton; his partner, Fiona Garden, directed the visuals.

Optimist in Black will be released 27 May 2016. Pre-order online from Daphne Guinness’ website.