I first saw Judy Blame’s work when I got a copy of The Face when I was 14, and I saw a Judy, Christopher Nemeth and Mark Lebon mix-up. It just spoke to me. Sometimes you don’t have an explanation for why you are drawn to something. After that, I kept on seeing his name.
Later, I was in Brixton, at the Fridge, when I first met Judy. I was at the bar and someone said, “That’s Judy Blame.” I was very shy but I plucked up the courage to go over and see him. I was impressed, and terrified. He was very intimidating. He knew he had ‘it’, so he was quite happy to be intimidating. He had the talent and the skill. And he gave me his business card, with his number written on it.
London club culture was important to Judy. I think they were out every night: Judy, Leigh Bowery and Rachel Auburn, getting dressed up, Michael Clark coming in, and Trojan. There was a real excitement about going out. It was a display. I think the joy of London was that music, fashion, arts, everyone joined together. That’s where lots of new ideas came from. It was non-disciplinary, more so in the past than nowadays. But we are coming back to the same political cycle. Today you see all these kids – they go out and do stuff, have fun, but they can’t at the moment. So they’re all in their studios, busy making with what they’ve got. It sums up what’s happening now. It’s very Judy.
I didn’t really get a chance to work with him on my own label – we never got around to doing that. But then I did at Louis Vuitton, for a tribute to Christopher in 2015, and I know he really enjoyed it, because he loved the act of transforming things that were ordinary into something very luxurious.
That was why, when we did this tribute to him at Dior, I really wanted it to be almost couture quality, because I know he would have absolutely loved that. It was celebrating him, not sadness. Judy’s love of fashion is one thing that kept him going, and his love of couture, his love of looking at clothes with a real eye, made this feel Dior. Couture isn’t about rules, it’s craft.
Judy was into the construction of a garment, an appreciation of finery. Judy elevated everything so much. He’d find something on the side of the Thames and turn it into something that someone had to have. He did an amazing sequence of photographs in the 1980s with Mark, of girls wearing different designers, quite a lot of Galliano, mixed with newspaper. Which obviously was influential – I don’t know John very well at all, but Judy would say that was how the newspaper thing came along. You could see it popping up after that – there was a crossover, for sure. I know that he and John had great admiration for each other. John’s work would be used by Judy and they’d see each other everywhere. It was a London gang of people that were spreading across the globe.
We looked very much at the Dior archive – Marc Bohan was actually one of the reference points: the paisleys, the silver embroideries. I remember Judy talking about Marc – that struck me. And the gloves were essential: Judy loved the idea of a guy in an opera glove, and I loved the idea of making that a reality at Dior, for him. Really, it was things he’d want to steal, was how I’d describe it. If Judy was in a room and you disappeared, when you came back, the rack would be empty. That’s how I wanted the collection to be.
I was obviously very lucky. I saw all the work because I was working on a book with Judy, so we had a starting point for the collection. We remade some of my favourite pieces of his jewellery – we Dior-ified them a bit: Judy Blame jewellery made with Dior components. It was really celebrating him. It is a homage, a celebration of Judy’s life.
Neneh Cherry, Mondino, Dave Baby and Flora. Everyone came to the show that could. I think everyone enjoyed it and celebrated him. We all felt very emotional. His friends Karlie and Cozette were working with us on remaking some of his bandanas. Everyone who had been part of his world, or had been his assistant, or had helped along the way, they were all involved.
Judy’s work was punk, craft and fashion mixed together. For me, he was very behind the scenes. Like that amazing Björk Debut cover, where she’s styled in the Margiela mohair jumper – Judy did that, did you know? Neneh’s image. Massive Attack. You see him adding to something that’s great and making it greater. That was one of his amazing talents.
Hair: Amidat Giwa at Bryant Artists. Hair (Honey Dijon): Mike O’Gorman. Make-up: Laura Dominique at Streeters using Le Rouge Duo Ultra Tenue and Le Lift Crème de Nuit by CHANEL. Casting: Jess Hallett at Streeters. Set design: Jabez Bartlett at Streeters. Manicure: Chisato Yamamoto at Caren using NARS. Digital tech: Daniel Archer. Photographic assistants: Andrew Moores and Louis Headlam. Styling assistants: Jordan Duddy and Isabella Kavanagh. Hair assistants: Gordon Chapples and Anton Alexander. Make-up assistants: Sunao Takahashi and Lydia Ward-Smith. Set-design assistant: Harry Beedle. Production: theArcade. Producer: Jo Evendon. Special thanks to Stephanie Nash and Steven Philip.
This story appears in AnOther Magazine Autumn/Winter 2020, which is on sale internationally.