The first time I walked into Judith Frankland's living room I was taken aback. I had never seen a room like hers, ever. There are knick-knacks, or tchotchke as Judith likes to call them, everywhere you look - rainbow colour, texture galore, kitsch - and personal photos and artefacts from moments in fashion history I've only read about. I was in awe. I was just getting to know Judith, we'd only spoken on the phone before that day and the sight of her flat told me there was a heck of a lot to explore with my new (then) platinum-haired fashion designer friend, and it wasn't going to be done in one afternoon. It took about thirty minutes before I'd absorbed enough of my surroundings to be able to settle into it, I could not stop looking around. I found it a challenge to engage in conversation which says a lot as Judith is so full of fascinating stories. A year and many visits later I'm still noticing curiosities on the tables, the walls and the shelves. And I'm still hearing new stories.
She has a pink microvave. She doesn't use it. Her kitchen is a bit like a 1950s version on acid, and the bathroom is lushly decorated with marine-themed objects. Of course it is.
There's a method to the madness. A quick glance around might have you thinking 'A crazy lady lives here' if you're devoid of imagination. Take a closer look and you'll see that's it all arranged quite meticulously and is dust-free. These are all things that she or someone who well knows her aesthetic leanings has picked up at flea markets and car boot sales, including her TV. She loves nuns and The Sound of Music. She has an original Sex Pistols t-shirt from Seditionaries, they were printed inside out, as well as the handkerchief. Not the fake kind Damien Hirst unwittingly paid thousands for, poor chump. These were made by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood on their kitchen floor and somehow they remain in her possession; Judith's had many things stolen and even left some at John Lydon AKA Johnny Rotten's flat one time. Considering how much Judith has moved around in the last 30 years it's really a wonder anything's left.
And in case you're asking 'Who is this Judith character?' see her blog Frankly Frankland here or in the sidebar for a closer look. Judith has the first issue of Anarchy in the UK, pubished in 1976. That's the whole newspaper in there and she's offered to let me have a look and take some pictures of what's inside. Oh yes, please! You can't see this and not ask 'Who's that on the cover?' It's Soo Catwoman, a well-known figure from the London scene of 1976-77, the period we now know as punk, although as Soo says on her website it "defied description and didn't get its name for quite some time, having taken everyone by surprise." And as you can see, Judith is a fan of Tupac. Yep, she loves him. That's what great about Judith, you can't shoehorn her into a label!
The original Sex Pistols handerchief. I didn't ask Judith if she ever blew her nose on it.
There's the Sex Pistols t-shirt, among other items. That terrifying looking thing on the shelf is a form for making ventriloquist dummies. She sometimes helps out a friend who makes them by creating tiny little outfits with matching hats.
That's Judith in one of her designs, that fantastic skirt.
Judith designed and made the outfit featured on Visage's Fade to Grey single cover, worn by her good friend Steve Strange. The blond man with the glasses was also a friend, I believe he was in an 80s band and I'll check on that. He passed away. Judith lost a lot of friends to AIDS in the 80s.
Photos © The Swelle Life