Learn Diamond Rings’ Style And Beauty Secrets From His Creative Director Lisa Howard [Interview]

Lisa Howard, Diamond Rings’ stylist.
Photo: Sweetsalting.com

Earlier this week, we had a conversation with Diamond Rings’ John O’Regan about his performance and music video style, and the way that his look has evolved in the whirlwind couple of years since he burst onto the scene. From dancing in front of a graffiti-covered (greenscreen) wall in leggings and an enormous denim jacket in his video for “All Yr Songs” to wearing a custom-studded leather jacket on Letterman, O’Regan has evolved from rocking vintage and classic sports jerseys and electric glitter makeup to rocking super slick monochrome, on-point accessories, and yeah, still a pop of color once in awhile. He hasn’t done it alone either. If you’ve watched John’s videos, particularly “Wait & See” and the more recent “Runaway Love,” you might have noticed a little blonde cutie dancing behind him. That’s no video extra, oh no, that’s John’s right hand woman, creative director, stylist, makeup artist, and, yes, cousin, Lisa Howard. Lisa does it all, even HAND STUDDING the leather jackets and sneakers that John wears, and that’s no small task. When we saw Lisa at a gathering to celebrate the release of Diamond Rings’ sophomore album, Free Dimensional, her fingers were literally bleeding from spending all day studding sneakers for John’s Letterman performance. Seeing dedication like that, we knew we had to share her secrets with the world, and she was kind enough to take a break from her breakneck touring schedule to answer all of our pressing questions.

MTV STYLE: How long have you been doing makeup for John?
LISA HOWARD: I’ve been doing John’s makeup professionally for almost 4 years, on and off stage. I do all of John’s editorial work, press shots, music videos, live performance and any press on tour.

When the two of you were growing up, would you do his makeup for him? How did you guys get started?
John and I truly grew up together. Our moms babysat us together every morning and afternoon growing up, and they always encouraged creativity. We were aloud to play dress up whenever and however we wanted.

John asked me to do his styling for his first show at a crummy bar in Toronto. We then crafted the music video for ’All Yr Songs’ a couple of weeks later and never ever looked back.

What was the early inspiration for the Diamond Rings look? What were some of those early conversations like?
The initial driving inspiration for Diamond Rings was John’s love of sports teams, their jerseys and our mutual love of 90’s hip hop and rap. We basically decided to make Diamond Rings an overblown, glamorous sports player with nods at 90’s hip hop style, like Public Enemy or TLC. We talked (and still do) every day, whether it is on the phone, on the tour bus or at eachother’s apartments in Toronto.

What was the first editorial the two of you did together?
The first editorial we ever did together was for a weekly publication in Toronto called Eye Weekly. It was a feature and cover piece. Very exciting. We thought we had died and gone to heaven. We were still shocked that anyone cared or even knew about what we were doing!

Diamond Rings performing in New York last night.
Photo: Getty

What’s the difference between doing his look for performance, editorial, and videos?
The difference between editorial and performance makeup is drastic. Live performance makeup is heavy and cake like. Sounds gross, but it has to be bold for every audience member to be able to see it on stage. Editorial makeup is refined, smooth and light. John already has great skin which makes my job much easier.

What comes first, makeup or clothes?
CLOTHES! (and hair)

How has his beauty look changed since the beginning?
I have really refined his look. It is far less bright and bold. We started listening to a lot of new wave and I started watching a ton of Depeche Mode videos and knew that Diamond Rings had to move in that direction. We have not lost the initial elements of sports and glam but toned it down a lot and made it much more palatable for the general audience.

What’s your philosophy to makeup?
Less is more but DO try trends! It feels good to stay fresh and youthful!

How did you get started?
I worked in fashion in Toronto long before I was working as Diamond Rings Creative Director. I worked and managed several makeup teams, I worked freelance as a stylist and was just a huge lover of indie music.

What are some of your personal favorite beauty looks? Any tricks?
Who doesn’t love a fresh, healthy glow? The best way to achieve beautiful skin is investing in a proper skin care regime that works for you and falls within your budget. My biggest secret weapon? SELF TANNER. I take it everywhere. On tour, at home, overseas etc. Try St. Tropez foaming mousse. It has a built in color so application is easy and it travels well!

What are your favorite products, both for John and for yourself?
We both swear by Clinique’s Rinse off foaming cleanser for makeup removal and zit free skin. We also both use Clinique’s Dramatically Different moisturizer. Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery for tired skin. We use Kevin Murphy hair products for both of our blonde tresses.

Who are some of your beauty inspirations?
GRACE JONES, Marilyn Monroe, General Idea–who are an artist troupe out of Toronto, Keith Haring, Patricia Fields.

What’s next?
Loads of touring!!!!!! Hopefully Europe in the new year!

Check out Diamond Rings’ latest video, and see if you can spot Lisa (hint: she’s wearing a lace crop top and AMAZING gold necklace), below!

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