Judy Blame 1960—2018
Judy Blame died peacefully Tuesday 20th at home in London surrounded by his close friends and family. He was 58 years old.
Judy Blame was one of the most influential figures in British fashion. He was also one of the most loved, and will be one of the most missed. Judy’s kindness, generosity, wicked sense of humour, and inimitable style meant that he touched all those he met, and the hearts of all who knew him.
Judy worked at the forefront of jewellery design, fashion styling and art direction for over 35 years. He was one of the architects and key faces of London’s underground club culture of the late 1970s and early 1980s, a boom time for unfettered creativity whose energies continue to fuel the fashion industry today. Judy pioneered the DIY ethic of making beautiful clothes and accessories from found objects, resculpting the notion of beauty in the process of creating his distinctive wearable assemblages. It was in those days of dressing up for endless nights out that he adopted the name Judy Blame and became one of the legendary figures of London nightlife.
Judy was born in Leatherhead, in 1960. At the age of five, Judy’s family moved to Spain. This was an incredibly happy and memorable period for the young Judy. Judy’s mother would often leave him (at his request) at the Prado Museum in Madrid for hours on end. His imagination, and his career as an artist, was ignited by the paintings of Velasquez and Goya. Returning to Exeter in England as a pre-teen, Judy discovered glam rock – David Bowie and Marc Bolan. At 17, it was punk:
“Bowie was the key, and punk rock was the like, well sod you, actually, I’m going over there…and I just legged it. I dyed my hair orange, got on the train, knew one person in London, stayed there. Second day, I went down to Vivienne’s shop, Vivienne flogged me a pair of bondage trousers and a Destroy t-shirt and that was it”.
With his friend Scarlett Cannon, Judy launched and hosted the night club Cha Cha’s. It quickly established itself as one of the key clubs in the post-punk scene that was later dubbed ‘New Romantic’. ‘Boy George, Stephen Jones, Marilyn, BodyMap… it was the start of a really fertile time in London,’ remembers Judy, ‘where everyone was trying to do something new, in fashion, music and film’.
‘All of a sudden it became a big media thing – in 1981 The Face called us ‘The Cult With No Name’ – and it exploded on us. We were all starving, living on baked beans, but we were in all the papers and magazines”.
Judy went on to become one of the most celebrated designers and artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. From working as a stylist and art director for London magazines i-D, The Face and Blitz to collaborating with musicians including Iggy Pop, Boy George, Massive Attack, Björk, Kylie Minogue, Shakespears Sister and Culture Club, Judy was at the vanguard of fashion and visual culture. Judy remained the personal stylist and art director for his great friend Neneh Cherry throughout his career.
His jewellery collections received critical acclaim. Judy began selling his work in trendy markets and boutiques in London and, thanks to the Manhattan nightlife entrepreneur Susanne Bartsch, in New York too.
Over his career he consulted for John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons, Gareth Pugh, Marc Jacobs and Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton, produced fashion editorials with photographers including Mark Lebon, Jean Baptiste Mondino and Juergen Teller.
In 2016 The Institute of Contemporary Art in London mounted Judy Blame: Never Again, a major solo exhibition of Judy’s work.
Judy Blame passed away on February 20th at the age of 58.