Jasmine Guinness on giving back, Simone Rocha and her enduring love affair with Ireland
“Dublin is my real home,” says former model and fashion entrepreneur Jasmine Guinness.
The 42-year-old Guinness heiress, who grew up in Leixlip, Co Kildare, and was educated at St Columba’s College in Rathfarnham, moved to London when she was 18 where she spent most of the last 24 years. Despite moving to Wales in 2017 with her husband Gawain Rainey and their two children, she’ll always have a grá for Dublin.
“Dublin, to me, is home. I know they say when you grow up, you’re meant to call where you live home, and I do love Wales, which is home. London was home. Dublin is real home, it’s where my heart is,” she tells Independent.ie Style. “I don’t think you could grow up in Dublin with Irish blood and not feel that there’s something spectacularly amazing about the city. We are a pretty extraordinary nation of artists and writers and musicians. We’ve got the whole package, it’s so interesting here.
“I’m so pleased that Dublin is so well again - and Ireland as a whole - is doing well again. I’ve been gone for 20 years, so it’s gone up and fallen and now it’s gone up again.”
When she makes it home for personal or professional reasons, she cherishes every ounce of the city that holds her heart; in particular, being able to make conversation with strangers.
“When I moved to England, I found it really hard that they based their social life around their work. Work comes first. In Ireland, it’s not like that - work is second to your family and your social life and work is not necessarily as important and that’s the way it should be,” she explains.
“I miss that. I miss when you’re sitting on a train and you turn to the person next to you and ask about their book; in England, they would think you’re going to mug them or something. We have a completely different attitude and I love that. Driving through Dublin this morning in the sun made me feel seriously homesick.”
Even her life in the UK is influenced by an appreciation for Irish creativity. After a jam-packed Fashion Month, she says the highlight of her social calendar was by Dublin-born designer Simone Rocha for her Autumn/Winter '19 collection.
“She had amazing women of all different ages, all shapes and sizes and I loved her show. The clothes were even more amazing than they’ve ever been - she’s just getting better and better,” Jasmine said. (Her other highlight was Vivienne Westwood’s protest driven showcase, which she says kept her on a high for hours after).
This time, her visit home was work related as she’s partnered with TK Maxx’s Give Up Clothes For Good campaign, which encourages people to donate pre-loved quality clothes in support of Enable Ireland, the 11th year of the conscience driven intitiative. Like a lot of parents, being a mother has, of course, set her devotion to the environment even further as it has more immediate consequences for her family’s future.
“I’m very careful at home about recycling everything,” she added. “Some food goes to my mother-in-law’s chickens, one goes to her compost - I hope to have a compost heap of my own one day - but no food gets wasted. I’ve always given all my leftover clothes to charity shops, so to me, it’s a really brilliant initiative.
“I don’t think people do recycle, they chuck their clothes in the bin which is criminal.”
After our sit-down over some lunch on Ely Place, she is not only strikingly beautiful, but unfailingly normal, down-to-earth, approachable and downright charming - possessing a sense of self developed over years in the public eye. She’s wearing, of course, TK Maxx and but she proudly tells me that her grandmother shops there and she was thrilled to see a shopping bag in her kitchen after her flight landed on Sunday.
One of the last Guinness family members who remained in Ireland until his death last year was Garech Browne, and he left behind a legacy in the form of a 72-strong horse drawn carriage collection, valued at €1m, which he wanted to leave to the city of Dublin.
“Garech in particular has left a lot of legacy. He went and recorded all the traditional Irish music and started Claddagh Records. He’s been pretty amazing since he was quite young, he supported lots of Irish artists and poet. So many things have been preserved for us by him,” Jasmine said.
“I bet the carriages are Irish built and Irish craftsmanship should be on display for the Irish people. He was brilliant. He had the most amazing book collection I’ve ever seen. He was a great man.”