Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Daniel Lismore "Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken" London Book Launch

Photos Mary Germanou

 Photos Daniel Rachiev

Photos Benjamin Szabo

 Photo Adrianna Kurek

Book launch event celebrated the publication of Daniel Lismore: Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken.

On the evening of Tuesday 21 st February, over 150 people including Rankin, David Lachapelle, Hilary Alexander, Matthew Williamson and Kelly Hoppen attended a star studded book launch event at BASEMENT at The London EDITION to celebrate the release of Daniel Lismore’s first book, Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken, published by Rizzoli in association with SCAD.

Daniel Lismore is known for elaborate and extravagant ensembles that brilliantly combine haute couture with charity-shop finds, yards of vintage fabrics and accessories, found objects, ribbons, feathers, chain mail, shells, ethnic jewelry, millinery and more in an expression of eccentric, creative energy. For his first book, Lismore shares the 32 ensembles that comprised his first U.S. museum exhibition, “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken.” The exhibition, co-curated by SCAD and presented at SCAD FASH: Museum of Fashion and Film, offered immersion in Lismore’s unique sartorial point of view. These life-size sculptural ensembles, each worn by the artist at one time, are reflections of his own multidimensional identity and are a tapestry of his journey to his true self.

During the event, Daniel Lismore did a Q+A with Mickey Boardman, Editorial Director of Paper Magazine. Illamasqua, one of the sponsors, provided masks of Daniel’s face for attendees and a mass selfie of a mannequin challenge was taken after the Q+A. During the book signing which followed the Q+A music was provided by DJ Jodie Harsh. Drinks were provided by 808 Whisky and Vitacoco coconut water. Themed cocktails were served to guests. Illamasqua provided goody bags containing Antimatter lipsticks which were handed out to guests as they left.

UK Publicity Contact:
Sophie Liardet
T: 01794 389174
M: 07976 327582
63-66 Hatton Garden
London EC1N 8LE Rizzoli International
Publications, Inc.
Notes for Editors: Photography Available on Request

About the book: Published by Skira Rizzoli, priced £40.00. About the Contributors: Paula Wallace
(Foreword) is the president and founder of SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design. Hilary
Alexander (Essay) is the former fashion director of the Daily Telegraph and currently is editor-at- large for Hello Fashion Monthly. Colin Douglas Gray (Photography) is a New York-based fashion and portrait photographer and SCAD graduate.

Special Thanks to The LONDON EDITION, 808 Whisky, Vitacoco,  Illamasqua

Gay Times

Interview coming soon!

Daniel Lismore x Tate Collective

Paula Wallace and Daniel Lismore explore Lismore's first U.S. exhibition...

Daniel Lismore on The Cholmondeley Ladies @ Tate Britain

"Be Yourself, Everyone Is Already Taken" Press Release

For Immediate Release
Foreword by Paula Wallace
 Photographed by Colin Douglas Gray, Essay by Hilary Alexander
Hardcover w jacket / 9.25” x 12.5” / 176 pages / 200 colour and black & white illustrations / £40.00
Skira Rizzoli in association with Savannah College of Art & Design / ISBN: 978-0-8478-5963-4
Release date: February 2017

Daniel’s work actualizes what others only dream about: a court scene of his own making; each character, Daniel himself. Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken — this book and the exhibition that launched it — portrays Daniel’s brilliant, cheeky self-portraits. One need not look further than the title to understand
how fully Daniel expresses his own persona. —Paula Wallace, from the Foreword

Daniel Lismore is known for elaborate and extravagant ensembles that brilliantly combine haute couture with charity-shop finds, yards of vintage fabrics and tartans, found objects, ribbons, feathers, chain mail, shells, ethnic jewelry, retro accessories, millinery and more in an expression of eccentric, creative energy.

A prominent fixture of the London fashion and art circuits, he is both tastemaker and friend to artists ranging from Stephen Fry, Debbie Harry to Boy George, Vivienne Westwood, Matt Lucas, Stefano Pilatti and Edward Enninful,  who have all shared quotes about the artist in this book. 

For his first major publication, Lismore shares the 32 ensembles that comprised his first U.S. museum exhibition, “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken.” The exhibition, co-curated by SCAD and presented at SCAD FASH: Museum of Fashion and Film, offered immersion in Lismore’s unique sartorial point of view. These life-size sculptural tapestries of Lismore’s life, each worn by the artist at one time, are reflections of his own multidimensional identity and are a tapestry of his journey to his true self.

About the Contributors: Paula Wallace (Foreword) is the president and founder of Savannah College of Art and Design. Hilary Alexander (Essay) is the former fashion director of the Daily Telegraph and currently is editor-at-large for Hello Fashion Monthly. Colin Douglas Gray (Photography) is a New York-based fashion and portrait photographer and SCAD graduate. Other Photo contributions by Boy George and Simon Harris.

Credit for the book must read: © Daniel Lismore: Be yourself, Everyone Else is Taken, Skira Rizzoli, 2017. Images © Colin Douglas Gray. Serial rights are available, but images may not be reproduced in any way, published, or transmitted digitally, without written permission from the publisher.

Media Contacts

Sophie Liardet
UK Publicity and Events Manager
Rizzoli International Publications

01794 389174
Allison Falkenberry
VP of PR & Marketing
Savannah College of Art & Design

Foreword by Paula Wallace
Photographed by Colin Douglas Gray
Text by Hilary Alexander
Hardcover w jacket / 9.25” x 12.5” / 176 pages / 200 colour and black & white illustrations
Price: £40.00 U.K.
Skira Rizzoli in association with Savannah College of Art & Design
ISBN: 978-0-8478-5963-4

Release date: February 2017

Interview with QX Magazine

David LaChapelle, Lady Bunny and More Gather at the Launch of Daniel Lismore’s New Book

21/02/17: Fashion icon Daniel Lismore brought socialites, celebrities and industry legends flocking to Fitzrovia’s effortlessly sleek London EDITION Hotel last week for the launch of his book Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken.
An unapologetically luxurious commodity, the beautifully embossed book is a kaleidoscopic chronicle of Daniel’s head-turning looks throughout his years as designer, model and muse.
Jodie Harsh spun her unique brand of homolicious house and debauched disco on the decks while David LaChapelle air kissed Lady Bunny, as models pouted from behind their cocktails and fashion journalists pretended they didn’t want the canapés.
Daniel held court at the doorway, graciously making a point of chatting to not just every single guest, but to every single guest’s plus one. Much like Daniel himself, the entire evening exuded true, genuine glamour, and uncontrived class.

Hi Daniel, It's great to finally chat! You've been labelled 'England's most eccentric dresser' (by Vogue). But how would you describe yourself and your approach to your art

I would describe myself as a freedom fighter, social alchemist or a connoisseur of culture. My art is an extension of my identity but acts as armour to the cruel world we live in. It's a magnet to the powerful and wonderful. I use my art to amplify my voice. Living as walking art has become part of my every day life. 

What does the term 'fashion' mean to you? 

I'm with Oscar Wilde on this one. "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." I think style is key if you want to look good. People should choose their own and stop copying others. It makes the world a more interesting place. You can follow fashion or create your own identity. Some don't think they have it in them so look to copying, when they really don't give themselves a chance. The moment I stopped trying to be something else was the moment life got better. Something clicked and I realised I had what I was looking for all along. 

When designing pieces, what do you look to for inspiration, and is there anything in particular you avoid? 

To avoid something is ignoring the whole picture. Mistakes often turn into great creations. I look for inspiration in everything and everyone. I can be as easily inspired sitting in a coffee shop on Old Compton street as going to a great art exhibit or traveling through exotic market places. I studied photography at college and the first thing I was taught was "open your eyes, look at everything"

What's your opinion of high street fashion in general? 

It's good for those who are stuck in style or can't afford designer labels. It opens up trends to the mass and sometimes helps promote good causes but it also ruins struggling designers businesses when the high street copy. I've had designers from the high street come to my shows at fashion week and seen copies of our stuff in their collections months later. I was the face of H&M 'Close the loop campaign' recently. I think they are the best because they bring the fashion giants to the high street and promote recycling. 

How do you feel when you're dressed in one of your pieces? 

For my my outfits are for you putting on a T-shirt and jeans, things I don't own.  I maybe restricted in vision or walking, or arm, hand or neck movement but it's more interesting to me. I've had whiplash from chainmail and cuts and scrapes on my forehead from metallic head pieces but it all goes away in time. I used to wear 12 inch heels and could run up the street in them but as I grew older I lost that ambition. 

How do you want other people to feel?

I don't mind. It's not my business. I anger people, confuse them, make them happy or provoked but it's their opinion. I'm fully aware people might react to my art or how I look naturally but I'm so used to comments good or bad that I stopped thinking about it. I used to think the way I look without the regalia was unusual so I threw on some jewellery and couture to give people a better reason to stare at me. Now I dress for myself. I'm a shy person and love it when people don't react at all! 

I know you have had some negative reactions in the past, how do you deal with that? 

I usually call the police straight away and report is. There have been time where I couldn't and have had to protect myself. I learned to either keep my mouth shut or to question calmly people's reactions. I just judge the situations as they unfold but I never answer back with insults. 

What was growing up gay like for you? How did you come out?

I never had to out as gay. I came out as myself. My mother sat me in the kitchen one morning after a long night out in Birmingham in the gay bars, I had bleach blond hair and thick makeup residue from the night before. She turned off the tv and said "have you got something to tell me" I said no and she said "I know don't I" and she was fine with it. I was terrified before as I thought I was the only one in my village. I wasn't! But from then on my family let me do what I wanted to do and supported me 100%. I was bullied all the way through my life at school in Coventry but it made me strong. 

What do you think children should learn at school that you didn't? 

I'm not too sure but I believe they should teach about people being in LGBTQ in schools as it's a massive struggle for those who are. 

Which LGBTQ bars/clubs did you go to when you came out and which do you frequent now?

I traveled to Birmingham when I first went out. There was Missing and Nightingales. I was obsessed by a drag queen Miss Mills, Chrissy Darling and Twiggy. I was introduced to drag shows by Miss Thunderpussy and I had two good friend who are no longer with us who I used to hang out with. First time I was introduced to London a hairdresser friend Andrew Cadbury Roe took me out. He showed me the Ghetto and Heaven. That's where I met Philip Salon and discovered the London Underground scene. I was blown away by Tasty Tim, Princess Julia and Lady Lloyd and wanted to be like them. Seeing Bjork, Kate Moss, Boy George and Pete Burns in the Ghetto, I knew I was home. I started partying with Jodie Harsh and she launched Circus with me as one of the main hosts. Then for years I heard my own parties where I urged everyone to dress up, then hosting nightclubs with Steve Strange. Now If I want a drink I go to Compton's or Freedom. I go to the Box if I want to go out for the night. It's not a gay club but it's open to everything. Soho is dying a death for many reasons. I see the future of bars in london being open for all. Not straight or gay

You're someone who seems to be very in tune with social and political affairs. What or who gives you hope and in the same respect what angers you in the world right now?

Wikileaks give me hope. Julian Assange is a great man. He is a freedom fighter and opens up the awful crimes committed by those who rule us. I have had the honour of working with Vivienne Westwood on her Climate Revolution and recently her IOU - Intellectuals Unite movement. Activists Bianca Jagger, Joe Corre, Chelsea Manning, Charlotte Church, Snowden, Katharine Hamnett and Peter Tatchell also give me great hope. Anyone who uses the power they have for the greater good is fine with me. I'm angered by ignorance, lies and discrimination in all forms. We as a species need to be kinder to one another. The gay community are often first to judge or comment but I believe we need to stick together because there are more important battles to fight. 

Finally, tell us briefly about some of the exciting projects you have coming up. 

My first book will be published by Skira Rizzoli and launching along side my SCAD fashion/art exhibition "Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken" which I hope to bring to the UK soon. I'm working on a few collaborations with fashion brands and I'm in two documentaries Battle of Soho & The Burn Punk London documentary about to be released. I have also just become Ambassador makeup brand Illamasqua and the The Tate's Circuit Program helping young people gain access to art galleries and educating them through art festivals and Late at Tate. I plan on conquering the art world this year and showing a series of portraits I have been working on with photographer Simon Harris.

Buy the book here:

Interview with Hilary Alexander from my book "Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken" Published by Rizzoli.


 By Hilary Alexander OBE

On November 5 th , 2015, the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up

Parliament, a young man entered the Palace of Westminster in London, wearing a gold-

sequined cloak, a Middle Eastern hijab and djellabah, an armorial  metal ‘pauldron’ or shoulder

protector, and a reproduction ‘Roundhead’ metal helmet.

It is almost certainly the first time a Roundhead military helmet has been seen in the House of

Lords since the brief rule in the mid-17 th century of Oliver Cromwell, the anti-Royalist Lord

Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and one of the men who

signed the death warrant of King Charles’ 1 st .

The young man was Daniel Lismore, someone who was once dubbed ‘London’s most

outrageous dresser’, by American Vogue. The vintage armorial accoutrements were deliberate.

“You know when you put on your armour to go out. That’s pretty much what I do every day.”

It was not Lismore’s first visit to the imposing Victorian Gothic Houses of Parliament on the

banks of the River Thames. Previously, in 2012, he accompanied activist fashion designer, Dame

Vivienne Westwood, to a ‘Cool Earth’ event there, in full drag, wearing hijab and djellaba with a

Pakistani wedding jacket, accessorissed with a Miao tribal necklace, a Butler & Wilson cross, a

plastic Hermès “Kelly” bag, high heels and a blonde wig; a kind of Dusty Springfield-meets-

Dame-Edna hybrid.

The looks, just two of the thousands Lismore has assembled for himself in more than two

decades on the F-row of London’s club, video and fashion scene, are all in a day’s work.

As he discovered in his early twenties, when “you’re as tall as I am, you tend to tower over

people” – he stands at 6ft 4in – “so you might as well do something with it. People are going to

stare anyway, so I think I might as well give them something to stare at.”

His mantra  has led to a career as model, scenester, night-club- host, stylist, and creative

director of the ultra-couture label, Sorapol, as well as early exhibitions at both the Tate Modern

and Tate Britain, a ‘star’ spot as the global face of the Swedish H&M chain’s ‘Close the Loop’

sustainability campaign, and, most recently, a cameo appearance in the new AbFab movie.

Some may see Lismore as a look-at- me exhibitionist, the epitome of a self-and- selfie-obsessed

generation Super-glued to free expression. Or perhaps his dressing-up is a means of escapism?

Lismore decries all explanations for his zany take on life.

“I know full well I’m going to get attention when I walk out the door, but I don’t dress for

attention. I dress for myself and I dress to break my own boundaries. I think you’ve got to go in

life. We need colour.”

 “I’m lucky that I can dress up, because with my height, sometimes I’m quite socially awkward; I

can be in the way. But if I accentuate it, with make-up, headgear and the looks,  it becomes an

extension of me and I thrive. I like to be amused. I may look as if I’m the one on show, but for

me the audience is the one that’s on show; it’s more interesting, I can be an onlooker. I

appreciate that sounds like a contradiction, but behind it all, I’m the one doing the observing.”

Without make-up and the gloriously garish assemblage of  make-up and outfits, inspired by

everything from history books to the high street, from sci-fi to cross-cultural sustainability,

Lismore is a tall, clear-skinned, wide-eyed innocent with raven hair swinging to his waist and a

compelling androgynous beauty.

Give him between 20 and 40 minutes in his wardrobe, and in front of a mirror with cruelty-free

Illamasqua’s extensive range of cosmetics and he becomes an other-worldly hyper-human.

Imagine, for example, being introduced to a monolithic, glittering, living, breathing, fantasy

incarnation of  ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine’ as a ‘Golden Warrior”, – just one of the “statues” in

Lismore’s “Be Yourself – Everybody Else is taken” exhibition, which opened at SCAD, Savannah

College of Art & Design, in Atlanta, in January 2015.

In Lismore’s own words: ‘ It starts with the hijab and djellaba, then a selection of Sorapol, pearl-

embroidered fabrics  and Indian and Thai textiles are draped and folded and safety-pinned into

a ‘uniform’, entwined with ropes of gold,  charity shop jewellery and Thai dancers’ jewellery.

Two Indian wedding “hands” are worn as earrings, then there’s the Roundhead helmet, and a

charity shop handbag”.

Equally extraordinary is the ‘costume” inspired by Queen Elizabeth 1 st

“She used to dress to command attention so that was the effect I wanted,” Lismore says. “The

crown was made for Nicky Minaj’s ‘Freedom’ video and the ‘costume’ is made up from a red

Mongolian sheepskin, custom-made chain-mail, a Masai shuka (checked blanket), a Louis

Vuitton leopard-print scarf, and Indian embroidery panels. I accessorised with Thai jewellery, a

crystal cuff cut from an old Jasper Conran dress, and Miao chokers. I added Agent Provocateur,

100-year- old Chinese garnet and pearl necklaces, chicken feathers, a gold leaf skull, a Kenneth

Jay Lane Ashanti ring, and charity shop bracelets worn as earrings”.

Then there is ‘Punk Marie-Antoinette, “a homage to London with a French spin”, which is a

bizarre assemblage of two Sorapol couture gowns in pearls, glass beads, silk pom-poms and

lace; a draped Alexander McQueen dress; and an Indian sari embroidered in silver and crystals -

all safety-pinned together and worn with a Boy London “boob” T-shirt and a Malcolm McLaren

‘Seditionaries’ straight-jacket. Not to forget the accessories – which include a hat made of bone,

straw, acrylic flowers and chopped netting, with a butterfly lampshade, a Mercedes-Benz car

bonnet insignia, safety-pin necklaces and ostrich feathers.

The pieces form just a small part of the mind-boggling exhibition, curated by SCAD’s Rafael

Gomes, from more than 4,000 pieces in Lismore’s own wardrobe and styled by Lismore himself

as a hyper-stylistic vision of what he actually wears.

Each of the 32 “statues”, as Lismore terms them, wears a mask of his face, in full make-up, an

effect which occasioned something of a ‘volte face’ when he stood amongst them for the first


“It was actually quite scary; like being in a Hall of Mirrors. ”

The exhibition had a five-month run at SCAD and is now opening at Miami Art Basel.

Understandably, galleries in Europe and London are bidding to feature it on their 2017/2018


When asked what he would like visitors to take away from the exhibition, Lismore explains it in

simple terms: “I want people to come in and see that someone does actually live their life like

this. It demonstrates that as long as you’re not hurting anyone, you can live any way, be who

you want to be.”

The exhibition is a massive acknowledgement of the dreams and desires of a young boy who

grew up in a small village in The Midlands in the heart of England, loving Star Wars, Star Trek

and World Wrestling Entertainment and knowing only that he was destined to be different -

and turned his childhood dressing box into his destiny.

HA: Let’s start at the very beginning; tell me where you’re from and a little bit

about your childhood.

DL: It’s a bit confusing. I was raised by my grand-parents in Fillongley, in

Warwickshire, The Midlands. My mother was English, and very young, and my

father, from Irish decent, died before I was born, so his parents became my mum

and dad.

HA: I’ve looked up Fillongley. It’s a very small village, more of a hamlet. It’s

mentioned in the Doomsday Book, but the only exotic connection I could find is

that it’s in the Forest of Arden, which was the ‘mythical’ forest of Shakespeare’s

“As You Like it’, hardly a hotbed of fantasy fashion. What was it like growing up?

DL: Very happy, very rural, the best upbringing. My parents were hard working.

We lived in a big Tudor house, and my Dad was an auctioneer so some of my

earliest memories are of  the beautiful objects he would bring home: Oil paintings,

antiques, and I clearly remember a set of original Louis XIVth plates. They were

very social, always entertaining and going out. Mum did dress up. I remember

watching her put on her make-up and perfume.

HA: Any siblings?

DL: My mum had a son to keep me company, but he was also my uncle (he’s a

musician in a punk band now), and a daughter, who was also my auntie. She made

me listen to Whitney and Mariah. We had a dressing-up box, full of medieval

things, vintage hats, clowns’ outfits. We all loved dressing up. I remember a purple

wig, a bit Dame Edna Everage,  probably my only early reference to anything

weird, but I didn’t think of it as a man or a woman, just a personality.

HA: How were your school years?

DL: I had the worst time at school. It was a Catholic school and I was bullied

constantly. I was tall, I was overweight, I was a geek and I didn’t play sports.

HA: Did you have many friends?

DL: Not really. I was a Star Trek fan and I was obsessed with Star Wars. Dad

bought home all the Star Wars figures and I made outfits for them with plasticine

and Play Doh.  I loved WWE; my favourite was Macho Man, I loved the glitter

leotards and tassels. And I loved the church; the gold work, the paintings, men in

dresses. I was an altar boy, I’m not religious, but wherever I go I will always l look

around the churches.

HA: When did you first realise you were different?

DL: I realized I was gay when I was about 14, and by the time I was 16, I knew I

didn’t want to be like everyone else, dress like everyone else. I was already over

6ft tall, so I was different.

HA: Is there anyone you remember, an aunt or uncle, who was eccentric in their

dress who was an early inspiration in dressing differently?

DL: I’d go on the paper round with my auntie Jeanette who ran the village shop.

She was a writer and poet and she’d wear hippie skirts and a fur coat with football

socks and heels. She looked different, even by default. I used to wear flared tie-dye

jeans from GAP, loads of accessories I made from springs and chains, and 5-inch

Cyber Goth platforms by Swear. I’d got into the whole Goth thing in Coventry by

the time I was 17. I loved Marilyn Manson, and I used to go to the NEC in

Birmingham to see Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath.

HA: When did you tell your family you were gay?

DL: I never came out as gay, I did come out as me though. It was about 2000.  My

Mum was very cool about it. I’d discovered the Birmingham gay scene and I used

her Elizabeth Arden foundation and mascara. I grew my hair and dyed it platinum,

and then blue. Then I got scouted at the Clotheshow at the NEC, by two model

agencies, Select in London and Boss in Manchester.

HA: Had you thought about being a model at this stage?

DL: Kind of, but I didn’t think it was possible. But I’d lost loads of weight by then,

and I was crazy skinny. Boss sent me to ICM, and I remember going to the agency

and Orlando Bloom was there and Rupert Everett, Liz Hurley, Alek Wek. I did a

shoot with Phil Poynter for L’UomoVogue, then a GHD campaign. …. I spent

some time in Milan, and back in London I worked with photographers like Mario


HA: I’ve seen photographs from your early modeling days. Short, slick-back hair,

suits, no make-up, the reverse of how you are today.

DL: I had to cut my hair short and the agency told me always to have a clean face,

no make-up, and they took me to Topman to buy some normal clothes. But I still

had ripped jeans, and I’d safety pin my clothes together.

HA: So how did you manage with your love of dressing up?

DL: I’d dress-up for night. I used to wear masks, and I’d buy fabrics, drape my

body and fasten them with safety pins.  The first club I remember was Ghetto

where I met the drag queen Jodie Harsh. I discovered Soho and Kashpoint; that

was my epiphany. I met Levi Palmer, the designer with Palmer Harding; he made

me my first dress. Jodie started a night called Circus at the Soho Revue Bar, I

started hosting at Kabarets Prophecy in Golden Square. There were the Mayfair

clubs, quite a dandy scene where I’d dress up as an Oscar Wilde rent boy -  Mum

would find me velvet jackets and scarves in charity shops.

HA: Did you know at this point that you had found a way ‘to be’, to live your life?

Was it a very conscious, deliberate decision to make your life about dressing up?

DL: Yes. I discovered how to live in London. Dressing up was, and is, something I

love doing. People started to know me. I was living with Levi, and we’d have big

house-parties and club nights where everyone dressed up. I’d spend the whole

week making outfits for the weekend, using bubble-wrap, tinfoil, anything I could

lay my hands on. I worked with Kylie, Kesha, and George Michael and iD

magazine used me for a shoot, and they gave me an honorary cover shot by Kloss

Films.  We printed the cover and made it into an outfit. It was crazy; at one time I

was probably out most nights for an entire year.

HA: It sounds a fun life, but fairly superficial.

DL: I  was wasting my life. I never touched drugs, but I was drinking and I needed

to do something more creative. I went to Kenya for a few months with a doctor I’d

met online, who was helping people with Aids. I’d studied photography a bit in

Coventry, and I started taking photographs. I visited villages  which had been

devastated by Aids, and I found women’s groups and commissioned them to make

jewellery. I did some work with charities, building toilets and trying to help. That’s

where all my political activities started. It helped me put my life into perspective.

When I got back to London I met a young Thai student (Sorapol Chawaphatnakul),

who was studying at London College of Fashion, and we used his school funds to

start a label. He was the designer and I was creative director.

HA: Fashion seems to have been a logical move?

DL: It brought everything together – styling, dressing-up, photography, putting on

catwalk shows, being ethical, the Green movement, bringing all the people I’d met

and knew from the club scene together, and I got active in Vivienne Westood’s

Climate Change. We did our first Sorapol show in 2012 in St George’s Church in

Hanover Square. By the time of the second show, we were dressing Nicki Minaj

and Paloma Faith.

HA: How has the Sorapol label continued to grow?

DL: Celebrity endorsement has really helped. We now dress celebrities like Mariah

Carey, Cara Delevingne and (Lady) Victoria Hervey, and we’ve done pieces for

DL: There’s actually 4,000;  accessories, hats, jewellery, clothing and textiles,

from all over: Charity shops, things from friends, vintage, market stalls, stuff I’ve

picked up on my travels. It’s assembled on 32 mannequins. I styled each one as a

‘sculpture’, in very rich versions of what I would actually wear, starting with the

hijab and djellaba, which I wear every day. Then I layered different fabrics and

textiles and metallics on top, all secured with safety pins, no stitching, and then

added jewellery. I was thinking of an army of ‘beings’; kings, queens, emperors,


HA: And you do actually go out dressed like this, don’t you?

DL: Of course.  I’m not sure if it’s fashion or art. Or would you say I’m living art?

I’m still unsure about that. There were, and are, a few reasons I do what I do:

Because I want to, also I’m so deep inside this ‘persona’, that people don’t see me,

and because I like to push boundaries. Sometimes, I’m quite socially awkward, in

the way, because of my height, but when I accentuate it, I thrive. I like to be


HA: How has it impacted upon your life? Do you face prejudice?

DL: I’ve been brutally attacked and I’ve been flown across the world, so the worst

and the best has happened. It’s not always sweetness and light. There is a lot of

prejudice on the streets. I was out one night with Kelly Osbourne and Steve

Strange. I was in drag – I don’t always drag-up, but this was a night off – and I was

wearing Issey Miyake with inflatable boobs and a blonde wig. A guy spat on me,

five times! I whacked him, I beat him up with my Versace bag. I think being tall

helps, I’m 6ft 4in, I tower over most people, it’s quite intimidating.

HA: How do you go about assembling a look?

DL: It’s like painting with fabrics; my body is my canvas. It starts with a concept,

colour  or theme depending upon my mood. I pick something up and it goes from

there. I match it with either texture or shape;  and I always do my own make-up. It

takes me between 20 and 40 minutes.

HA: What’s the next act in the ongoing Daniel Lismore performance.

DL: I have a cameo appearance in the new Ab Fab film, which was great fun. I

wore an orange ‘dome-collar’ around my neck which was originally made by

Sorapol as a skirt for Azealia Banks who I styled for a while. The exhibition from

SCAD will re-open at Miami Art Basel at the beginning of December 2016. I’ve

heard various European galleries and museums want it.

HA: You’ve obviously met hundreds, thousands, of celebrities en route to

becoming a celebrity yourself. Who would you say have been your major


DL: It’s a long list, so many people have helped me, so many people I’ve met on

the way, many have become friends - McQueen, Amy Winehouse, David

Lachapelle, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley (‘my bible’ when I was growing

up’), Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Boy George, Debbie Harry, Vivienne Westwood,

Kylie, Bjork, Anna Piaggi, Steve Strange, Daphne Guinness, Valentino, Kate

Moss, Izzie Blow, Hamish Bowles, Patrick Stewart, Tilda Swinton, Galliano


HA: Do you ever think about what you might have been, what career you might

have had if you hadn’t started dressing up?

DL: My parents wanted me to be a carpenter, but I think I’d have worked for an

NGO in Africa, or been a politician. Now, I  want to work in the art world, do

more styling, acting and be a perfumer. I studied under some of the greatest noses

at Scent London and made three perfumes for the SCAD exhibition. Who knows

what the future holds. Every day brings another phone call that takes me

somewhere else. I love the spontaneity, I never know what’s going to happen.

i-D daniel lismore’s guide to being yourself

daniel lismore’s guide to being yourself

Fresh from the launch of his brand new book, Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken, club kid and style icon Daniel Lismore presents his very own guide to being oneself. Over to you, Daniel.

I spent a lot of my time when I was younger trying to be like other people. Then one day I realised I had what it took to be different, to be myself, that I didn't have to be like everyone else. I became the person I am today.
Although I drew a lot of inspiration from some great people, I tried to always concentrate on my own art and ideas, and be true to myself. I may look very dramatic at times, but even when I'm not dressed up I'm true to myself - I am always the same person inside.
1. Stop trying to be like others
You have it in you to do, be and choose whatever you want in life. Quit trying to be like others and don't compare yourself to other people.
2. Trust your instincts
Always go with what you feel, that way you learn if things go wrong and succeed if things go well.
3. Never compromise
Stand up for your worldly vision and what you believe in and do what it takes to fulfil it. Just don't hurt anyone on the way.
4. Be creative
If you are an artist - art is the key ingredient in life for communication, so create what you feel. If you are honest to yourself in art, others will resonate with it whether they like it or not. It helps you choose who you should be in your life. If you do not consider yourself an artist, try something creative. It might help you express what you feel even if you are not great at the technicalities - many of the greats were messy!
5. Believe in you
If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. Stop caring about how other people perceive you.
Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken is published by Rizzoli

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