The grieving daughter of an iconic Australian fashion designer who committed suicide has revealed how she fought to save her beloved ‘dada’.
Brisbane fashion designer Daniel Lightfoot passed away on Christmas Day 2022 at the age of 58.
Mr Lightfoot was an outstanding creative who shaped the Queensland fashion industry from the 1980s to the 2010s, dressing high-profile clients including Liza Minnelli and former Governor General Quentin Bryce.
His 26-year-old daughter Paris spoke publicly for the first time, claiming that she and her family did everything they could to help her father before he killed himself.
Daniel Lightfoot’s daughter Paris Lightfoot (pictured at her father’s funeral) has opened up publicly for the first time after her father’s shocking suicide
The Brisbane fashion designer took his own life on Christmas Day 2022 at the age of 58 after a ten-year battle with depression and anxiety (pictured, Mr Lightfoot with his daughter Paris)
Ms Lightfoot explained that her father struggled with anxiety and depression for a decade after his studio was forced into liquidation because a former employee was convicted of fraud.
Daniel Lightfoot Studios was forced to close in 2013 and ex-general manager Dianne Ross-Davis was jailed for four years.
Mrs. Lightfoot revealed that she had tried everything in her power to help her father and opened up the one question that continues to haunt her to this day.
“He’s struggled ever since, but last year was the worst… I’ve reached out so many times and it’s hard because you ask yourself, ‘What more could I have done?’ when someone is in so much pain,” Ms Lightfoot told the Courier Mail.
Ms Lightfoot believes the stigma associated with mental health issues prevented her father from reaching out and talking about his struggles.
She added that her father used several prepaid cell phones and often did not respond to calls or text messages from family and friends.
“So many people tried to help but he backed off – we did everything in our power but he wouldn’t even speak to his own family,” said Ms Lightfoot.
The brave young woman said her father would “put on a brave face” because he wanted to be the strong role model and not burden her with his struggle.
Mrs Lightfoot added that she did not know where her father lived at the time of his death and wonders if things would have been different if she had been with him on Christmas Day.
Mr. Lightfoot’s sister, Ally, called her niece early on Boxing Day to deliver the tragic news that her father had passed away.
“Her voice was shaking and she asked if I was alone and I said I was with Mum and then she told me – it was shock, heartbreak, devastation and all those emotions,” said Ms Lightfoot.
“Every day after that was up and down in terms of denial and getting my head around it, realizing what happened and that he won’t be here anymore.”
Ms Lightfoot revealed that her father stopped communicating with family and friends and she did not know where he lived at the time of his death (pictured, Mr Lightfoot along with his daughter Paris and ex-wife Suzie)
Mrs. Lightfoot believes she and her family did everything they could to help her father, but often wonders if things would have been different if she had been with him on Christmas Day
Ms. Lightfoot, who captains the Bond University women’s Bull Sharks AFL team, hopes to help others struggling with anxiety and depression.
After giving up her career as a lawyer last year and opening a gym with her partner Jackson Fisher, the 26-year-old wants to promote the link between physical activity and mental well-being.
Ms Lightfoot said her father was ‘much better’ when he was ‘fit and healthy’ and that exercise had helped him manage his depression and anxiety.
The Somerville House and Bond University earn graduation points for staying physically engaged in helping her process her grief.
During the week, Ms. Lightfoot takes seven gym goggles a day at her ACTV Strength Co in Ashmore and trains two nights before Saturday AFL games.
Mrs. Lightfoot hosts the ACTV Run for resilience on May 27 in support of Sana Days – a charity founded by Brock Day, who also lost her father to suicide.
The run also aims to help people build a support network and educate the public about mental health issues.
Mr Lightfoot rose to fame when he was just 20 years old after starting his own label.
The designer was known for his stylish day dressing and later his striking corporate uniforms, winning 18 Awards Retailers’ Association of Queensland (RAQ).
He was inducted into the Retail Association of Queensland’s Hall of Fame in 1992.
Five years later, he was recognized on an international scale when he was named Best Day Wear Designer in the World at the annual Miss World contest.
Mr. Lightfoot had a slew of high-profile clients, including Liza Minnelli and former Governor General Quentin Bryce.
In 1985, Australian Miss World contestant Angelina Nasso wore one of his designs.
Mr Lightfoot also mentored many aspiring designers at the Queensland University of Technology fashion school.
In 2013, Daniel Lightfoot Studios was forced into liquidation after a former employee was convicted of fraud and jailed.
A few years later Mr. Lightfoot opened a boutique in the Brisbane Arcade which was destroyed in a storm.
After giving up her law career last year, Ms Lightfoot opened a gym with her partner Jackson Fisher (pictured). The 26-year-old wants to promote the link between physical activity and mental well-being
Mr Lightfoot (pictured) was known for his stylish ‘daywear’ and later for his distinctive corporate uniforms, winning 18 Retailers’ Association of Queensland (RAQ) awards
In mid-2020, he attempted to return to the industry, but was thwarted by Covid-19 lockdowns.
Friends and family wore their brightest colors as they gathered to say a final goodbye to the iconic Queensland fashion designer on January 19.
More than 200 mourners attended Victory Church in Brisbane for Mr Lightfoot’s funeral.
With the dress code being “anything but black,” lovers walked into the church to a slide that featured some of Mr. Lightfoot’s most memorable designs to the tune of Madonna’s famous song Vogue.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 24 any time of the day, seven days a week for anonymous support and guidance.