Raised in Coventry, England, Lismore spent much of his childhood in his father’s antique auction house. Here, informed by his surrounds, Lismore’s creative evolution to “living sculpture” was sparked. Known for his theatrical stylings, Lismore has a “unique sartorial point of view”. Formerly the Creative Director of luxury brand, Sorapol – dressing Nicki Minaj, Boy George, and Mariah Carey, amongst others – he has also designed for the ENO (in collaboration with Swarovski) and in 2017 added exhibiting at Venice Biennale to his roster of accomplishments.
“A long-time campaigner for the recycling of clothes” Lismore has “worked closely with Vivienne Westwood on her Climate Revolution projects”. In his own words: “There are hundreds of ways to be more sustainable, but not to buy as much is the best way.” In this tête-à-tête, the London-based artist and tastemaker shares his take on personal style and identity, reflects on the impact Isabella Blow had on his life, and promulgates why scent is his greatest indulgence.
Describe yourself in three words…
Shy, thoughtful, adventurous.
How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Usually, it takes me about 20 minutes to get ready, give or take five to 10 minutes. No one ever believes me, but there are many witnesses.
How do you define beauty?
I think of beauty as a concept which we have constructed over time through different generations; I think everyone is beautiful in their own way. For example, when I see good artwork, it makes me feel like I want to eat it… and that’s when I know it’s beautiful to me.
What is your most memorable scent association?
I am a perfumer, but not commercially. I created a fragrance and brought it to Paris and put it on my friend, who is possibly one of the sexiest ladies I’ve ever met, and I could not stop smelling her. It was quite a moment.
In your opinion, what is the ultimate form of self-expression?
I think to live as an artwork, to express your thoughts and feelings, is the ultimate form of expression, and this is why I do what I do.
To what do you attribute your sense of style?
My sense of style is informed by my thoughts and how I feel at the time. There’s never usually a theme, it’s just what happens in the mirror every day. It’s like painting a picture or sculpting a sculpture, but with my body as the canvas.
Your greatest indulgence is…
To be honest, scent is what I love. When I saw the film Perfume, I thought I finally found a character who is as obsessed with scent as much as I am. However, I wouldn’t go as far – obviously.
Do you have a signature scent, or do you prefer the idea of a fragrance wardrobe?
I have about 10 different fragrances I have made over the years which I love, and I wear every day. Three of them I wear more than the others. You can usually smell me before you see me. I’ve also given them to my friends over time; people are obsessed with them.
A key moment that changed/sparked your career trajectory…
Meeting the Fashion Editor, Isabella Blow changed my trajectory in life. She introduced me to Fracas perfume, told me I should only wear red lipstick, and not give a f*** about what people think of me as long as they are thinking of me. She gave me permission to be myself and she believed in me.
Your artwork is ‘created from fragments of items’ you’ve previously worn. Tell us more about your creative process…
I work with colour, texture, and shape, and sculpt and build until I feel that things belong. There’s always a structure underneath and, obviously, my personality never changes and that is the thing that holds things together.
How can the fashion industry be more sustainable?
There are hundreds of ways to be more sustainable, but not to buy as much is the best way.
Your gurus are…
They change all the time, but Björk is one of my ultimate heroes. As is my mother.
What are you reading at the moment?
Sadly, I don’t have much time for reading because I am always in the presence of interesting people, but I listen to everything and everyone. Good and bad, I like to be educated about the world.
Your book, Daniel Lismore: Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken, was published by Rizzoli in 2017. What was that experience like and if you were to publish a second book, what might its focus be?
I think I could publish a second edition of the original book with new sculptures, but I would like to do a picture book of 20 years living as an artwork and eventually a biography – I’m currently working on both.
Who/what is inspiring you right now?
I think the new generations – how they’re working, how they think, and the culture they are creating – are fascinating. I honestly want to be part of that. They are always coming up with new ways of saying things and doing things and I’m down for that.
Things you’re excited about for the future…
I’m always excited about science and new, young political leaders who are trying to save the world because we are in a lot of danger right now.