Gay Times Article

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Dressing however the hell he damn well pleases means life isn’t plain sailing for Daniel Lismore. “I’ve experience homophobia,” the fashion maverick sighs. “I’ve experience transphobia. I’ve experienced all kinds of hate for the way I am, in London, around the UK and online.” He knows why that it happens. “People don’t get it and they feel they have to say something, but those are the people that don’t matter in your life. My friends go, ‘How on earth do you ignore it?’ But I honestly don’t see it anymore. If someone said something awful about a friend I’d jump straight on them, but if they say something about me I’m like, ‘OK, that’s your opinion but I don’t agree and I’ve got better things to do.’ ” That said, Daniel, 32, recalls wearing drag and walking through Soho with New Romantics godfather Steve Strange when a guy spat on him five times and punched him. “So I beat him up and he was crying. If someone hits me I’m not going to stop.” Sounding far from proud of himself for retaliating, he gives another longer sigh. “I’m lucky that I’m 6ft 4ins and I can defend myself, but it’s a part of me I don’t really want to use and I wouldn’t recommend it. You never know what’s going to happen in those situations so I’d advise to try and get away from it as fast as you can.” Defiantly, the man who wears everything from medieval garb to tribal gear via designer bin liners and regal crowns has no intention of tempering his image. “We need characters right now,” he tells us. “We need people who will break out of a mould, like in the 80s when we had Boy George and people coming out of hard times and just being themselves. That’s when change happens. For years I’ve been put down by the art world and fashion and society, mainly by people who have never met me or spoken to me. It’s not easy being different, but it’s worth it.” As one of the stars of our style issue, Daniel has wide parameters when it comes to defining style. “It’s your own personal idea. People too often judge what other people are wearing, but actually if you just put something on and you feel OK in it, and you want to present yourself to the world like that, then that’s up to you.” The way he presents himself to the world has earned him the oft-repeated moniker of ‘world’s most outrageous dresser’, which was coined by the editors of Vogue and now crops up every time he’s written about. How does he plead? “Not guilty! I don’t think the way I dress is outrageous. If you look at tribes around the world they’re very similar.” A fan and friend of Boy George, who has penned a poem for the companion book to his exhibition Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken, Daniel believes the LGBT+ community are still very much trendsetters. We’ve always stood out and been a bit different, he feels, partly as a way to identify each other. “And since it’s been accepted for guys to be gay, since we were told we could be a certain way, there’s a lot more of that. Everyone follows us.” You might wonder if his everevolving, hard-to-categorise is the boy from Bournemouth who grew into one of the biggest names in the British fashion industry. Hot off the heels of his new book, Daniel talks styling the likes of Cara Delevingne and Mariah Carey, working with giants such as Vivienne Westwood, inspiring Gaga, and how we can all use fashion to stand in the way of control. STYLE look is a little too out-there for people to copy. “But I’m imitated all the time,” he insists, “either by small groups around the world – kids or whatever – or ladies in Sweden. I see stylists taking inspiration from me for shoots, or you see your influence in fashion shows.” He laughs about his ideas leaking into pop culture. “Iggy Azalea, Lady Gaga and all those – they stole my looks.” His new book could serve as a reference manual for such style thieves. It features the 32 ensembles Daniel created for his exhibition, which premiered at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film in Atlanta, and was also featured at Art Basel in Miami. Daniel reels off a list of people who have provided quotes for the book – including Stephen Fry, Debbie Harry, Yves Saint Laurent and Matt Lucas, with an essay by fashion guru Hilary Alexander. He’s got them all on speed dial, apparently, although he might not have time to call them during what looks like being a very busy year. Having stepped down as creative director of atelier Sorapol label late last year, he declares: “I’m branching out on my own. I want to conquer the art world.” There are a lot of TBC things he can’t talk about, plus a perfume that has to be finalised and named. He’s also an ambassador for the Tate Modern and plans to take his exhibition around the world. Among the people he’d like to work with and design for are Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and Angelina Jolie. “They’re power women who I really admire and they’re so sexy.” He laughs. “But then I want to dress the rest of the world.” He’s clothed Nicki Minaj, recalling: “She was quite tricky because she changed her mind all the time, with all these crazy and elaborate ideas, but she was a total dream to dress. Her body is beautiful, so to create stuff for her was great.” And Sorapol made a coat for Mariah Carey, raving: “She’s super-sharp and so intelligent. There’s a reason she’s gone so far in her career.” Then there was the time he dressed Azealia Banks and Cara Delevingne as mermaids and walked with them through the London Aquarium. “They were shuffling along and it was very funny. Neither of them could move and I was thinking, ‘This is ridiculous.’” Daniel’s style icons include Stephen Fry “because he’s always so dandy” and Isabella Blow, Philip Treacy’s muse who told him: “Always wear red lipstick and don’t give a flip about what people think.” Born in Bournemouth, the boy who went on to study fashion and photography and became a model at age 17 recalls being inspired by image-makers like David LaChapelle. “When I was a kid seeing his work kind of blew my mind.” And he loves Vivienne Westwood, who he’s collaborated with on climate change and human rights projects, “because she changes the world via clothes and that’s what I’m about”. Does he feel like a role model for the LGBT+ community? Daniel ponders the question, then answers: “It’s not just LGBT+, it’s anyone who’s a bit different or thinks differently or wants to be different.” As the first brand ambassador for Illamasqua make-up, he adds: “If you look at their make-up it’s for people who are not living within boxed ideas.” He doesn’t think the community has lost its edge. Far from it in fact. “Ten years ago it was a very different world but now there are new groups happening and new scenes and new ideas. And LGBT+ people are blended in more now so they’re able to influence more scenes rather than just art, music and fashion.” Does tireless self-promotion ever get tiring? “Never,” Daniel declares. “I think social media is fantastic and I’m just sharing my life with the world and I’m sharing it truthfully. It never gets tiring and there’s no off button because it’s real.” l Daniel Lismore: Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken is published by Skira Rizzoli, priced £40,, @daniellismore