Daniel Lismore " A Walking Sculpture" talks about How Gender Identity is a Social Construct
A piece of art,' a designer, activist and writer, he never fails to turn fabric- and steel-dressed heads, frills and brocades, ribbons and shells,...
A piece of art," a designer, activist and writer, he never fails to turn fabric- and steel-dressed heads, frills and brocades, ribbons and shells, feathers, crystals and over-sized safety pins.
Maybe a snow god, or maybe a Gypsy queen or a painting by Andy Warhol, cheeky, irreverent and rare, Daniel Lismore is all we dare to dream of. A "walking sculpture," a model, activist and artist, he never fails to turn fabric- and steel-dressed arms, frills and brocades, ribbons and shells, feathers, crystals, and over-sized safety pins. In Delhi, his face is recently wrapped in heavy steel chain mail for the India Design ID 2020, with a crown of real crystals on his head, and many more decorating his sleeves.
As he sat down to talk to us, his highly embellished gauntlet laid on the side as he released his left hand while wearing metallic hand jewellery on the right. "I'm a walking protest," says Lismore, in London. "I've been interrogating the system since I was 15. I never made sense of the way things existed," And he adds. This is why growing up with his paternal grandparents who were antique dealers in Fillomgley, a village in Warwickshire, England, wasn't a smooth transition from playing Captain Kirk and Spock to wearing make-up and eight-inch heels.
Before he found comfort in the lives of Warhol, David Bowie and Boy George he had to go through insults, bulimia, and rejection. He soon found himself living on his terms when a modeling agency spotted him at 15. The lanky six-foot-four' model' found a "very predictable" fashion industry "Not many people have revolutionized the fashion industry," says Lismore, who has been told that it would be a struggle if he chose to be himself. "I have earned confidence over the years. This is my armour, against the world, "says the 35-year-old. Now called" the most flamboyant dresser in England, "he won modelling assignments and was on forums to discuss causes of the LGBTQ community, the rain forests, Brexit and climate change." Good art always says something, and if I am the art then I must say something. There are a lot of people in power who can speak up, but don't, " And I want to say something. There are many people in power who can speak out, but don't, "Lismore says.
He has worked on numerous campaigns with his friends like Lady Gaga, Stephen Fry, and Vivienne Westwood, met with royalty, and dined with dodgy Russians, too. "Be it a London supermarket or Old Delhi streets, it's really fascinating to see how people respond to me. People are just like magpies, curious about the shiny and the different things. History has shown how we bought into the idea of tribalism, dressed up and behaving in some way. I found my own way and it's part of my journey,'
His book Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Rizzoli; 2017), cued from quote from Oscar Wilde, has photographs of mannequins casted directly from his own face, each hand-painted to match his make-up. It was the outcome of the same-name show at Atlanta, USA, which later moved to Miami Art Basel. Nearly 30 ensembles were presented by Lismore, each sumptuously dressed in accessories, baubles and fabric, presenting the connection between dress and identity and the need to assert individuality.
"A lot of people do not know how to react to me. They're questioning my identity. Am I male or female, binary or trans? And then the question is: Is it a performance? He'll sing or dance, " and "I was on a mountain top in Iceland, preparing my lines for a TED talk. And there was a snowstorm raging. A man who walked up didn't even turn around and look at me. He just went going. I think the lack of reaction is very positive, just because people wear dark clothes to different clothes doesn't mean they're anomalous."