Fashion in Motion: Daniel Lismore at London’s V&A museum
So what exactly is a ‘Living Fashion Sculpture’? Meet Daniel Lismore and you get the drift…as a fashion stylist and ex-creative director for luxury women’s wear über-label Sorapol (Nicki Minaj, Cara Delevingne, Boy George, Debbie Harry, Rita Ora and Mariah Carey are all fans), he has been a prominent feature on London’s fashion & art scene for many decades. But what makes him go through so much effort to express himself in such detail, with such originality and talent?
Hailed as ‘England’s most eccentric dresser’ by Vogue, his wearable artworks are not just extravagan and elaborate and, as the V&A describes them ‘three-dimensional monuments’, but usually come with a message too. Sustainability is hugely important to him, hence charity shop finds, haute couture, anything vintage and even scraps off the floor are mashed into impressive eye-catching psychedelia. As a campaigner and activist, he also uses his creations to drive home his points of view and message to the world. The fact that he actually took part in the V&A’s brilliant showcase ‘Fashion in Motion’ as a living sculpture himself, shows how committed he is to his cause and raison d’être.
Attendance for his shows that day were all maxed out, with people in awe of his impressive ‘fashion soldiers’, having modelled the idea of the exhibition on the world-famous terracotta soldier army. Their looks and styling themes are a reflection of the people he has met on his extensive travels, and you can’t help thinking of them with a somewhat strange sensation of a ‘family of multiple selves’ – which is a huge statement of recognition and sufficiency of ’self’ in its own way. Watching this video puts across in visual form what words sometime fail to describe about this multidisciplinary artist, so hit that start button now to go on a journey, with Daniel Lismore, yourself (daniellismore.com)
Daniel’s design philosophy has too many angles to state, but that’s precisely why he is such a multi-talented human being. As a fashion sculptor, designer, creative director, artist, speaker, campaigner & activist, as well as brand ambassador, there is no end to him channeling his creativity.
By wearing his own flamboyant dress sense himself, you get the feeling that he puts his money where his mouth is. Starting off in the industry studying photography, he soon ended up in front of the camera himself, working with renowned photographers such as Steven Klein, David La Chapelle, Mario Testino and Ellen von Unwerth. As a fixture on London’s fashion scene, when the luxury label Sorapol was launched in 2012, he was hired as creative director in 2012. The fashion and music scene just loved it when one of his exclusive designer pieces was created, mashing Maasai culture with the looks of Marie-Antionette. Just imagine…
Not surprising then, that Daniel became an ambassador for the Tate Museums in 2016 and also supports Graduate Fashion Week in an ambassadorial role. His vision of sustainability has his eyes firmly locked into the future, hence he is also an ambassador to the charity Cool Earth, furthermore working closely with Vivienne Westwood on her Climate Revolution projects, amongst others.
Wearable artworks are his ultimate statement, and an assembly of found items, accessories, reassembled garments, haute couture and bits & pieces (right down to objects such a Mercedes star, we’re talking car maker here) make his fashion’ creations utterly unique and highly original. How does he even begin to contemplate a certain look right from the start? Well the answer is: he doesn’t! He might start with a particular item, but then lets the creative process take over and lead him to wherever it may take him. He says about his way of working, that sometimes he makes a mistake and then it turns out that it’s the best thing he’s ever done. This free spirit and mind without borders or limits is why only one Daniel Lismore exists on this planet. In an industry that lives and survives on copying others, he is a master of originality. But his message is still for the greater good and people as a whole: be yourself, in whatever way or shape this might be expressed as.
Of course, having been raised by his grandparents, who were antique dealers, trained his eye for beautiful things from a very early age onwards. His father owned an antiques auction house, which was, no doubt, another great stepping stone on his quest to find unique items with a past and a history to gain new life in another time, another place and another world.
Hence, his first book ‘Be Yourself – Everybody Else Is Already taken’ is a celebration of all things unique. A collector’s item itself by now, it’s a stunning publication of fashionable eye-candy by Skira Rizzoli in New York, and the most fabulous gift for any fashionista walking this earth. From then followed exhibitions and shows, including a stint at the Venice Biennale, being part of Reykjavik’s Arts Festival and he also opened Naomi Campbell’s Fashion For Relief catwalk show at the British Museum. He also gives compelling TED Talks all over the world, speaking about fashion, diversity, fashion history and the business of fashion, quite apart of his life as a living sculpture. He furthermore has countless TV appearances to his name…and still finds the time to be a Human Rights activist.
The extraordinary thing is that he is invited to speak to people of ALL ages at leading venues and educational institutions, corporations and museums as far as Canada, India and the Far East, including France, Monaco, Italy, the Check Republic and of course many places in the UK. So, it comes as no surprise, that Daniel is no stranger to the V&A: in 2017 he was invited by the museum to chat to fashion editor Hilary Alexander presenting a talk in order to discuss the subject of personal identity and style. Clearly a subject he is well versed in, since he decided for himself to live his life as a fashion sculpture.
Of his participation at the V&A’s Fashion in Motion show case, he says:
‘I am delighted that my sculptural looks will be showcased at the V&A. The pieces are a product of 20 years collecting, collaboration and travel – each individual accessory, textile and adornment has a unique story. I hope that visitors will be inspired and empowered to express by my life as a living sculpture to express themselves however they choose.’
Fashion in Motion at the Victoria & Albert Museum
‘Fashion in Motion’ is a free-to-attend catwalk showcase at London’s world renowned and much loved V&A! Enabling anyone to see collections close-up and in detail by allowing the visitors to experience what it’s like to have a front-row view at a professional fashion event, it is the only fashion series of its kind. The setting of the museum is just perfect and offers a truly unique fashion adventure.
Amazing then, that it’s been going for over 20 years already, having featured great designers like Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, Harris Reed, Ashish, Christopher Raeburn, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kansai Yamamoto, Erdem, Gareth Pugh, Giles Deacon, Grace Wales Bonner, Yohji Yamamoto, Kenzo, Molly Goddard, Jenny Packham, Missoni, Roksanda Ilincic, Vivienne Westwood and other global names in fashion in the past, not to forget the countless students, who have been given a platform to showcase their designs there too.
That is one of the reasons why the V&A is such a leading light on the fashion scene. By organising these kind of unique events & experiences, quite apart from hosting the most outstanding exhibitions as the world’s largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design, it also houses a permanent collection of over two million objects. It’s fashion collection is designated as the UK’s National Collection and is one of the most comprehensive collections of dress on a global level. Many pieces are totally unique to the V&A, presenting the most iconic looks of the last four centuries. Its collections have been, and still are, the source of inspiration for many designers, including Sandra Rhodes and the late Alexander McQueen, not to mention the multitude of students and researchers, who regularly visit the museum for special projects.
On Daniel Lismore being the latest participant at Fashion in Motion, Oriole Cullen, one of the museum’s senior curators, comments:
‘Daniel Lismore’s spectacular sculptures embody his unique lived experience – we are excited to present his dramatic and uncompromising vision of beauty and authenticity as part of the V&A’s Fashion in Motion series.’
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