As the fashion industry remains in mourning – we take a look back at the life of the inspirational, Judy Blame
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions for the fashion industry. Firstly, we celebrated London’s Fashion Week, with news of even the Queen taking a front row seat; however we ended the fashion scene with the deeply saddening news regarding the death of British fashion designer, punk icon and influencer, Judy Blame.
Renowned for being a creative force and the one who was instrumental in crafting the look of the 80’s and beyond, it seems only fitting that we take a look back at Judy Blame’s work, where he started and just how much he influenced the industry that is today.
Building a reputation
Born in Leatherhead England, as Chris Barnes, Judy moved to London at the age of 17 to not only cement his new identity but to pursue his love of style, uniqueness and of course to enjoy everything the London night scene had to offer!
As a kid about town, Blame started off as a young designer, who soon created a name for himself as a talented stylist and major art director as he showcased his true talent and eye for reinvention.
It was this uniqueness and reinvention that over the years caught the eye of some of the biggest names in the pop world. Working with celebrities such as Bjork and Kylie Minogue for example, who when it comes to styling and fashion couldn’t be more different. But working with Blame they couldn’t have been offered more of a unique styling. With an eye for detail and contacts in the industry to suit everyone, he knew which artist should be working with who, (in terms of photographers and make-up artists) in order to achieve their perfect style image.
Blame also spent time working on, what many of us will remember, as the famous “Shakespeares Sister” shoot, where he will be remembered for telling singer Siobhan Fahey, to not get mad with the makeup artist about her running make-up but to instead keep the running eye look as it created a different look, “more, baby Jane”.
It was this, taking a step back and reassessing new looks which Blame took in his stride, quite often he could be cited as seeing something that others couldn’t.
With reinvention being Blames strength, he also remodelled friend and colleague, Boy George as “fashions disappearing, ghostly pearly king”. For Blame he believed that reinvention was key and that to achieve these looks it also didn’t have to cost the earth!
Blame then went on to work as the personal stylist of Neneh Cherry, of “Buffalo Stance” and was also the cofounder of East London Boutique, creative studio and crafts collective, House of Beauty and Culture.
What Blame worked on was building his empire around himself and his beliefs. To the extent that even if you weren’t aware of Blame directly, you knew his work. It was easily recognisable, distinguishable and known worldwide.
There’s certainly something to be said when it comes to building your `personal brand`.
With feet firmly on the ground
However, one thing that can be wholeheartedly said about Blame, is that no matter what success was thrown his way, no matter just how big he became, what made Judy Blame, Judy Blame, was he stuck to his roots!
Throughout different era’s and new fashion trends coming into play, one thing remained consistent – Blame always stayed true to his passion of punk and reinvention!
The fashion industry is extremely fast paced and what we remember one day is replaced by a new piece or a new style the next.
Yet, none of this concerned Blame, driven by his social conscience, Blame used his work and the platform he had to make sure his creative was incorporated into any styling and design. He never looked through rails and pieces in order to put his vision together. Instead he was known for making his creations from what he found wandering the streets. The saying “someone else’s rubbish is always someone else’s treasure” couldn’t be truer when Blame was involved.
For example, also known for mud larking – Blame would look for “treasure” on the beach and make jewellery and accessories from it. These iconic pieces of jewellery and accessories allowed different styles to be created and this uniqueness transpired into Blame creating jewellery for Kim Jones’s Fall 2015 menswear collection for Louis Vuitton and in 2016 he then went on to showcase his solo work “Never Again” in London.
It was this approach that made Blame’s vision completely unique and what catapulted Blame into an exceptional art director, stylist and visual icon.
What we think about the creative industry and what we know, Blame seemed to be the opposite. There were no airs and graces or pompous demands.
Blame was Blame, he had a job to do and a statement to make. Hence Blame’s work can be seen as much more than fashion pieces, but as art. In some sense you never knew what Blame was going to return with when working on a project, but you knew whatever it was, it would be incredibly fitting.
Our generation and all generations moving forward can learn from Blames work, his influence lives on with designers and brands such as Marc Jacobs, Kim Jones, Christopher Jones and most recently Moschino.
Punk is not just an era that came and disappeared. Punk has simply evolved and developed over the years, never straying too far from its heritage and its origins.
Judy Blame inspired many whilst he lived and will continue to do so as new fashion creatives to the industry will learn of his work.
The fashion industry has indeed said goodbye to an inspirational fashion icon, but his work and vision is something which will never be forgotten.