The Quiet Activism of The Lissome Founder Dörte de Jesus
In our Faces series we introduce a number of inspirational women who live out their own vision of our world, of beauty, impact and curiosity, in both their private and professional lives. Amongst others we hear from Dörte de Jesus, Creative Director and founder of Lissome, who shares with us her enduring attitude towards sustainability and mindfulness.
Text: Amelia Lang
Photography: Stefan Dotter
What is your relationship to fashion?
I have always loved the theatrical aspect of fashion and how much self-expression it allows. It's very playful. It can also be the opposite, of course. If you feel pressure to follow fashion like a regiment or feel pressure to keep up with the latest trend, there is not a lot of pleasure in that. I am not interested in fashion as another set of rules to know about and obey. My interest or perspective has always originated from a place of experimentation and playfulness.
After some years working in magazines and in the more traditional fashion world, I became interested in sustainable fashion. I did a lot of research, and I found the dialogue and communication surrounding sustainable fashion was very fact-driven. I started to miss the beauty, joy, and wonder—aspects that are so alluring and why people are drawn to the fashion world in the first place. Something very essential - something very important - was missing in the communication relating to sustainable fashion. And that was beauty.Telling thought-provoking stories in a beautiful, gentle and inclusive way is the essence of our work at The Lissome.
What does beauty mean to you?
I once listened to an episode of On Being, a podcast with Krista Tippett, and she was interviewing John O’Donohue. The episode is called ‘The Inner Landscape of Beauty’, and when I first heard it, his perspective made so much sense to me. It was a memorable ah-ha moment. He spoke about how, as a culture, we have mistaken beauty for glamour and a standardized and superficial glitz. But beauty is something entirely different.
For me, beauty is something that nourishes the soul by connecting us to the awe of being alive. There's so much beauty in the natural world. It’s such a miracle. Moments of beauty are when I feel touched by a very genuine sense of awe.
The world seems filled with so much cynicism, especially in relation to the future, or hope in general. You come across as refreshingly sincere and authentic. Where does that come from?
When I was around twenty years old, I had a very close friend from the U.S. He had studied at my high school and one summer he wrote to me and said, “I am going to be on tour in Europe with this hard-core Punk band. If you’d like to join us, you’re more than welcome to come along.” I joined them on tour for two or three weeks. They played this very loud, aggressive music but they were sweethearts, and they were full of love for life. I remember at one point, one of them said, “I swear to myself, I will never, ever become jaded.” In that moment, I heard that message so clearly and it moved me. I made a pact with myself that I too will never, ever become jaded. I still sometimes think back on that time. I haven't seen them for so many years, those Punk Rock boys, but it left a lasting impression on me.
I think we also need an anchor to remain sincere and optimistic. I noticed during the pandemic that it is critical to rest and take breaks and to create some space. I don’t want to rush through life, and more and more I need time to slow down, just be, breathe, and be in the moment. Slowing down is a function of deepening our awareness, tuning into our senses, and becoming intimate with a world that is alive. That’s how to stay connected to sincerity or authenticity, too.