judy blame: i get by with a little help from my friends

​Like the pied piper of fashion, Judy Blame has worked with some of the most inspiring, creative, and downright bonkers visionaries in the industry, to create some of our most iconic visuals of all time. We asked some of his closest friends and...

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Jun 28 2016, 2:35pm

Judy Blame, Mark Lebon, Neneh Cherry

Neneh Cherry, musician and lifelong co-conspirator, Judy styled the video for the now iconic Buffalo Stance. "Wow, the enigma that is Judy Blame! I don't know where to start because there are so many layers made up of so many threads. Just the other day, Judy came over to our house to show Cameron (my husband) and I pictures of the work we've done together over the last 25 years that he is thinking of using in his upcoming retrospective at The ICA. This was the trigger point for memories to come flooding back like huge endless rivers. This (our) journey has ended up being quite long (without an ending still, thank God!). None of us are into obsessing about the past (we tend to look forward) but it was great to sit with Cameron and Judy and look at some of the work, and lots of pictures I hadn't seen for ages. Some of the photos I had no recollection of at all… slightly worrying! It made me laugh to think of the treasure chest of clothes we used to move with (beautiful pieces from Jean Paul Gaultier, Azzedine, Rifat, and Bodymap...) mixed up with fake gold, sneakers, diapers, baby walkers, carry cots, drum machines, needles and threads... but most importantly breast pads! I don't how many times mid session I'd be like 'it's happening, leaking baby milk, Judy!' 'Great here we go…!' (Judy running to the rescue with a stack of glamorous breast pads). Judy is one of the most creative people I know and works in a way that's driven by instinct, and so do I. I guess that's why our communication stems from the natural… we are family. He is the honorary godmother to one of my kids for fuck's sake! Our journey's been going on for a long, long time, and it is far from over… (knock on wood)!"

Kim Jones, designer, worked together on the Louis Vuitton fall/winter 15 men's show, a tribute to Judy's friend Christopher Nemeth. "Working with Judy was so refreshing and exciting. He would come with a bag full of reference pieces, get the whole team motivated, and tell the studio all his amazing stories, creating a lot of laughter. I loved the fact everything was so handmade and crafted spontaneously, which in such a big brand like Louis Vuitton is the best thing for me, as everything is so regimented!"

Boy George, musician, some of his most iconic 80s hats were created by Judy. "Once Judy traveled to Iceland with me under the guise of doing wardrobe. I saw Judy at the side of the stage before I went on, he was wearing high heels and a monocle. Halfway back to the hotel my tour manager asked 'Did anyone grab the stage clothes' and looked straight at Judy who replied, 'Darling, I'm Judy Blame. I don't do packing!' I loved him then and I love him now. Judy is such an important creative force and being sober and clear-headed serves him and us because we can see how utterly genius he is. He is a game changer; he is 'Ziggy Stylist.' He can place a safety pin on a jacket and make it radiate cool. He's a juxtaposer and a fashion humorist; he has this innate sense of absurdity. I have a ton of his creations and I'm keeping them!"

Vivienne Westwood, designer, fellow punk. "I know Judy from the punk days. He was always very handsome and stylish -- he was a punk and always looked so great. He became known for the way he looked and fittingly became a stylist. I think he started with the brilliant i-D -- and it all grew from there."

Bjork, Debut

Jean Baptiste Mondino, photographer. "I've been so lucky to know, work and learn with Judy during all these years. His vision and styling are so unique; nobody is as artistic and radical than him. He can turn any piece of junk into luxury! He's brilliant and necessary and I love him!"

Rifat Ozbek, designer and friend. "Judy Blame -- king of salvage chic jewelry!"

Bjork, musician, Judy created the simple look for the cover of her album Debut. "The most generous thing Judy Blame gave me as a shy insecure beginner, was that I was enough and that my own taste and character should simply be enforced. Judy is not just a stylist but someone who sees the whole picture and the potential of what people and situations could become. I remember witnessing him switching roles very easily and simply watching a shoot, and whatever it needed he selflessly became that. Like a true catalyst. And often it wasn't the garment at all…"

Mark Lebon, photographer and long-term collaborator. "I first met him down at a little known club called the Silver Slipper. Rachel Auburn had brought him down and I thought he was her boyfriend; he had a skinhead haircut and looked like a very frightening thug. I was delighted and relieved when Rachel told me he was called Judy Blame and that he was gay. I next met Judy when Camilla Nickerson cast him in a baldies story she styled for Tatler that I shot at my mom's old flat in New Cavendish Street. Delighted by him and his Britannia penny brooch that he sold for £1, we went on to become best friends. He introduced me to Dave Baby; we shared friends in the 'gay mafia' and other 'Taboo-ers.' He went on to do his first styling jobs with me for i-D, I even became his and Chris Nemeth's first agent for a couple of seasons. I was also honored by his coming to live in a cupboard at the flat for a while. He and Chris were my most important collaborators, my 'penny and post sack,' fashion and artistic peers, with them I discovered my aesthetic. Forever grateful in love, life 'n' death."

Tyrone Lebon, photographer, worked together on one of his first shoots in i-D. "Judy is a beautiful, handsome, and deeply intelligent human! He has been a friend of my parents since before I was born, so he has always been part of the family. As I write this I'm sitting in my mom's kitchen, and she still has a necklace sitting above the sink that I made under Judy's supervision when I was about three and hanging around on one of my dad's photo shoots. When I was starting to take portraits for magazines, Judy was incredibly generous and took me under his wing. He led me into i-D and bullied Terry to give us a fashion story. Before I really knew what was going on I was on the set of my first proper fashion shoot, in front of me stood an oiled up topless muscle man in a pink sombrero with pink gaffer tape on his nipples. I'd arrived! I am very grateful for the doors Judy opened for me and as a friend, collaborator, and all round radical punk aunty figure I am very happy that he is in my life! Big ups and big love to Judy!"

Photography Tyrone Lebon. Creative Direction Judy Blame. Styling Giannie Couji and Neil Stuart [The 300th Issue, No. 300, June/July, 2009]

3D from Massive Attack, musician, Judy styled Massive Attack for their album Blue Lines. "Before we began promo for Blue Lines, a shopping trip to NYC was planned to kit us out for photos. Management insisted that Judy Blame accompany us to make sure we didn't stray from the plan. Shortly after checking in to the hotel Judy started making calls to arrange meetings with designers and retailers. We went straight down to Canal Street and spent the entire budget on Kangols, sneakers, Goose jackets and fake Rolexes. We celebrated by taking Judy out to some Irish pubs and got drunk."

Malcolm Garrett, graphic designer behind iconic punk record sleeves. "We moved to London together in late summer 1978. We set off with my then girlfriend Jackie (Jackie and Judy -- they sound like characters from a Ramones song!) not really thinking beyond the next few days. There weren't enough bedrooms in the flat so Judy slept in a walk-in cupboard in the hallway. Barely big enough to squash a small single mattress into and with a sliding door down its length. London was a great adventure for us. We spent a lot of time going to far flung venues or on trips to Seditionaries on the Kings Road, and of course when the Blitz opened its doors, we were there."

Scarlett Cannon, style icon and friend. "Judy has always been a creative powerhouse. I met him in 1980 when I was 17, the following year he asked me to join him in starting a one-nighter in the back bar of Heaven along with a friend, Michael Hardy, and the now-legendary CHA CHA CLUB was born. The name Judy Blame was conceived on a particularly fun trip out of town, visiting his folks down on the farm in Wales (I think!). Glamorous, slightly eccentric-but then who of us isn't? And still a great friend, Judy Blame is always entirely original and continues to inspire and set trends."

Stephanie Nash and Anthony Michael. "Judy is a true polymath, Leg - end and punk. We have worked together for 30 years, starting with Neneh Cherry in 1986. We share a 'paper, glue, and scissors' approach to design. Our collaborations have remained fresh over three decades due to a shared attitude and aesthetic combined with his abundance of creativity, curiosity, and intelligence. Judy continues to inspire us to move forward and think in ever new spheres. He is the hinge to our bracket!