by Manu SharmaSep 12, 2020
Why be behind the camera when you can be in front of it? Daniel Lismore took a page out of the great book of drag queens and decided to become his creations. Although Lismore started his career as a photographer, this angelic pout-lipped beauty decided to bring his expertise as a designer and artist to the forefront when he began modelling his own creations. Lismore has been captured by some of the world's most famous photographers, including Mert & Marcus, Steven Klein, David LaChapelle and Ellen von Unwerth.
Lismore’s style and oeuvre ranges from ethnic jewellery to chainmail, from Goth to Indie, and he manages to make everything look epic. The term used when describing his signature style is, ‘extravagantly maximalist’. Beginning with a basic black silhouette underneath, Lismore builds up his outfits layer by layer until all that is visible is his beautiful face and pouty red lips. It helps that he is six foot-four in height and gravity does the rest to keep the outfit anchored well. His exhibits have been described as dizzyingly detailed; a techni-colour remix of pop culture, high street clothing, ceremonial garb, high fashion, and lots more besides.
“When I hear the Coco Chanel saying, “take one item off”, I usually tell someone to add something else to enhance or balance out the item they would usually take off!” is another famous Lismore-ism that is doing the fashion rounds.
Lismore has been named by Vogue as England's most eccentric dresser, and selected as one of the Out 100 and in the top 100 of the Guardian’s Pride Power List. He is a prominent fixture on the London fashion and art circuits, and is both a tastemaker and friend to artists ranging from Stephen Fry and Debbie Harry, to Boy George and Edward Enninful who all contributed to his first book, Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken, published by Rizzoli.
To paraphrase what Lismore once said in one of his TED talks, “Life changes when you choose to be unapologetically yourself.” He got inspiration from Oscar Wilde, who was his role model while growing up, both of them being Irish and growing up in London at different times, dealing with similar issues. He grew up in suburban family, where as a child he would play ‘dress-up’ with his brother, using all sorts of goodies his father brought home from his auction house.
Lismore has many feathers in his hat. He is an ambassador for Tate who hosted his first two exhibitions in 2012 and 2013 featuring selfies, and is also a global ambassador for Graduate Fashion Week, which reflects the six years he spent as a creative director of a luxury women’s wear brand. In May 2017, Lismore exhibited their work at the Venice Biennale.
In June 2018, Lismore curated a month-long show of his work at Harpa Hall in Iceland as the highlight of the Reykjavik Arts Festival and had over 6,000 attendees. The exhibition continues to travel the world and opened at Pan Museum in Naples in June 2019.
Speaking about his exhibition, Lismore reveals that he has “scented the exhibition…”; simply put, it means he is engaging the viewers sense of smell as well. “One of the pieces smells like Joan Collins on acid; another one is like plastic on poppers. I wanted people to feel this plastic, spacey feeling. Another is like gladiators: death, blood, guts, horses, soil. I made a new perfume, too, which I’m wearing now. Some people love it, and some people hate it.”
Of his favourite outfits, one was made from 12 inflated garbage liners with a black cube and spikes sticking out. Another is inspired by the Queen of Thailand, there’s a £90,000 crystal dress, Rita Ora’s Coca-Cola dress, which should be in a fashion museum. Another piece is from Nicki Minaj—that she wore it in the Freedom video. He is the proud owner of a 2,000-year-old necklace from China and a £30,000 dress that is more sculpture, less of a dress. Of his every outfit ever created, Lismore says, “They’re 3D tapestries of my life.”
(References to pieces written on Daniel Lismore in Boy Magazine and his quotes are sourced from his See my TED talk here. Given at #ted2019 in Vancouver )