Judy was a visionary accessories designer, art director and fashion stylist but above all, a remarkable man
- TextTed Stansfield
This morning I woke up to an email from my editor-in-chief and a text from a friend telling me that Judy Blame had passed away.
I knew that he’d been struggling with his health, but that didn’t stop the shock, nor did it prevent a surge of sadness rising within me. One of my all-time heroes was gone.
For many, Judy Blame needs no introduction. Born in 1960, in Surrey, he was an accessories designer, art director and fashion stylist; he was a child of punk, a member of the legendary Buffalo gang and a founder of the boutique, design studio and crafts collective known as the House of Beauty and Culture. He designed for Comme, collaborated with Vuitton and exhibited at the ICA. But he was more than that, too.
Judy was a true original. He embodied what it means to be a creator, to the extent that his very existence somehow felt like a creative act.
I came across him when I discovered Buffalo – the group who, for me at least, represent the golden age of fashion. His work captivated me, it seemed so ingenious – how he fashioned these amazing pieces out of anything: bones, clay pipes and coins he’d found ‘mudlarking’ in the Thames.
I then became fortunate enough to interview him, twice, and he was everything I’d anticipated. Inherently stylish, completely authentic and full of stories. He was the real deal.
What I hadn’t anticipated though was his kindness; his wicked sense of humour and his cackling laugh, his wry smile and the twinkle in his eye. Sat with him, I felt like a kid listening to his stories of Buffalo, Ray Petri and the time he met another Rei (this time Kawakubo) and presented her with a piece made from gold chains and fluorescent pink toy soldiers, which she then incorporated into Comme’s S/S05 collection.
Throughout his career he made it up as he went along, in the best possible way. He didn’t follow the rules, in fact he seemed to take pleasure in the very act of flouting them.
“Punk rock – that was my training,” he once told me. “Whatever I’ve done, I’ve had to pick it up and work it out for myself. And because I wasn’t trained, I haven’t got that baggage. Training can hold you back… Especially with fashion. I love breaking the rules all the time. You know, when people say, ‘Ooh you shouldn’t wear red and green…’ There’s always some kind of rule... I love tradition funnily enough, but if I’m told not to do anything, I want to do the complete opposite.”
Leaving both interviews, I felt reminded why I do what I do and – that oft said but rarely meant word – inspired. To me, he was everything fashion could and should be. He wasn’t a couturier but to me he was Lagerfeld.
I remember bumping into Judy several times after those interviews – around Soho mainly – and he’d always stop to chat and ask how I was. As we parted ways he’d look me in the eyes and very sincerely tell me to “Take care.”
I will always be grateful for those moments I shared with Judy. I’ll miss him but know that he, and his work, will go on to inspire me and countless others. Rest in peace, Judy.