New Ribbon
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For spring/summer 2015, PPQ presented clothes to wear to 'the coolest party of the fashion season', finished with high gloss hair taken to a creative extreme READ MORE...
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Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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think we could all use a dose of soft, pretty and innocent right now. Paul Costelloe brought his unabashed femininity to the runway READ MORE...
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Carmen Dell’Orefice...if this is what being in your 80s looks like then I'm looking forward to it! The legendary model, who once declared to Vanity Fair, “If I die, it will be with my high heels on”, is set READ MORE...
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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 READ MORE...
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June 08, 2011

Frankly FranklandBy Judith Frankland


JudithFrankland_TheSwelleLife Luciano (Cirelli, my husband at the time, bless him) and I moved to Milan in 1987, and naturally, headed straight for the legendary club Plastic. Still going strong, it was and still is run by the charming and handsome rascal Nicola Guiducci,  a legend of Milan nightlife. Aldo Lanzini, a fabulous artist and designer, was the first person we met and he guided us. It became clear that the people on the "scene" were friendly, enthusiastic and ready with open arms to embrace new creative energy.

Upstarts that we were, we decided to host our own weekly night that would allow folk to express their creativity and be as OTT as they wished, without any hassle. Our door policy was vital to the ambience we wished to create but was not intended to be pretentious, and I think we succeeded. We would tell certain "hmmm..." types that they would just not like it if we thought they may be looking for trouble.

Our first success was Chocolate City, done in collaboration with a group of people known collectively as Primo Piano. It was two floors of fun. Upstairs it was shows, installations and LA DJ Victor Rodriguez spinning wonderful old classics. Downstairs a flashing Saturday Night Fever style dance floor dominated and DJ Marco Sanseverino would at first try to coax the crowd into the new style house music which was spreading from the States and London. Leigh Bowery and Malcolm Duffy were flown over to co-host and DJ. However, Leigh arrived wearing two pairs of shoes at the same time, and as he had consumed copious amounts of cocktails, was soon the Leaning Tower of Leigh, and after a brief visit had to be escorted back to my place. He did of course fascinate our regulars and inspire some. What a character and visual genius, sadly gone but never forgotten. We went on to do a number of other clubs under different names until an English friend suggested "Pussy Galore's " - and it stuck!

At Pussy's we had many DJs, all great characters themselves. Claudy-o  (now an artist and much loved DJ), Giammy (Gianmarco Cattaneo who now has a PR agency called Avenue) Claudio Coccoluto (now world famous) - oh my, so many guests from Italy and all over the world. Our resident video maker Giuseppe Capotondi has gone on to be a successful very respected director. The most memorable visits were by London's Kinky Gerlinky, the club run by legends of London, Gerlinde and Michael Costiff. They brought their "girls " along and DJs Martin Confusion, Princess Julia and Rachel Auburn, who would later become regular visitors.


The first night, the club owner stood mouth open as the decadent scene erupted into a crazy, colourful, outrageous affair that has never, in my view, been equaled by another group of people. We also took the Kinky Show to Bologna and Riccione where their exploits were hilarious and we all had a blast! The crowd loved them. From New York we brought the fantastic and adorable Lahoma Van Zandt along with the brilliant DJ Larry Tee and a rather sedate RuPaul. Lahoma was resplendent in leopard print and we had so much fun when we also went to Bologna, she was one of my favourites.

Collaborations with record companies, particularly Bruno Pasini at WEA then Sony, became regular. We put on showcases for upcoming bands and solo artists such as Deee-Lite, Right Said Fred, 808 State, Stereo MCs to name a few. But the most amazing for me was Seal, I was such a huge admirer. He played a fantastic acoustic set and stayed all night, chatting and charming us  - a truly gracious guy oozing talent. I went home with a life size cardboard cutout of him and he went home and became a global superstar and into the arms of Heidi Klum, lucky gal! We arranged fashion shows and parties on a regular basis for Emilio Cavallini, on one occasion bringing over from Barcelona the exotic and lovely actress Rossy De Palma to model. MTV Europe had a huge do and I relished in having dinner with them and getting the lowdown on the pop world. I had to ask - remember this was the early 90s - who was the most difficult to deal with and the easiest? Madonna and Phil Collins respectively, no surprise there, ha!


Events on the Italian Riviera with Rachel Auburn and the Pleased Women were fab. Jon Pleased Wimmin reminded me how I would not only change my outfit for the after hours daytime club but also spray my gold shoes silver, happy days! From trapeze artists to fire eaters and indoor markets, we tried everything with a fabulous group of friends including the brilliant Sam Rey, who is just finishing a rather wonderful exhibition called Bark in Berlin. A party was concocted at the funfair in the center of the citta. We took away the mini dodgems and created a dancefloor and scattered bars around the Luna Park which had a small but hair-raising roller coaster. Employees of Armani, Versace, Dolce Gabbana, Vogue etc. whizzed down the huge slide and braved the ghost train and just let loose - what a night! We took over a bowling alley for a night and then had an outdoor club complete with "stay clear of Judith, taffeta and water do not agree" pools. I made up the rap for the club: "Fresh and fruity, shake your booty, come on down to Tutti Frutti". My great friend Jimmy "Tarzan Boy" Baltimora, was a regular and has also sadly left us. Many famous faces would pop in to our events without fanfare or hassle and have a darn good time.

Ultimately, and to my utter delight, style icon Anna Piaggi paid us the compliment of visiting. In my eyes, Signora Piaggi was then and still is the most gloriously creative, stylish woman in the world. Again my life was made for a few days. Oh Milan oh!



TheSwelleLife_3Click to enlarge and read Judith's interview






Pussy A GoGo (Pussy Galore's) - Milan
  Pussy Galore's - Milan Kinky Gerlinky's Night
  Pussy Galore's - Milan

  PUSSY GALORE's 12 Mar 1993 - Milano
  PUSSY GALORE's 26 Feb 1993 - Milano



Header photo of Judith Frankland: Denise Grayson @ The Swelle Life

May 17, 2011

Frankly Frankland

By Judith Frankland


This week I'm taking a trip down memory lane to the LA years. Accompanying me to set the glamorous tone are the witty and vibrant collages created by Jon Cooper, AKA renowned DJ Jon Pleased Wimmin. I asked Jon to send me some of his old Hollywood works in which he lovingly transformed a myriad of famous faces, and you, too, could be one of his subjects as he does bespoke commissions. Jon also has a monthly night at Dare in Edinburgh - a man of many talents! You can see more of Jon's work at



The year was 1986, the city LA. I was a newly married, party-loving adventurous gal and it was a great time to live in The City of Angels. After a brief stay up in Hollywood we met some of the downtown glitterati and moved into the heart of the scene into a loft near  Little Tokyo. Downtown LA at that time was heady, fast, experimental and decadent. Life for us revolved around after-hours underground clubs - sometimes held on dangerous gang turf - and a thriving art scene bursting with openings and happenings. The players in this world were bright young fearless and fierce, as some of them used to say "funky fresh", and barely an actor in sight. One was the young, smart, beautiful and funny Alexis Arquette, who would go on to become a legend of the LA club and party scene and a darn good actor.

Judith_TheSwelleLIfe Clubs would spring up anywhere possible. One particular night there was no location for the club Plastic Passion, run by Brett Boreman, Joshua Wells and Steven Ernst, also incredible characters, who decided it would go ahead in the loft on the floor above us. As the music thumped, the ceiling moved as beer dripped through the floorboards onto our bed! They were hilarious, carefree days when a man on the roof with a gun was entertainment. We dressed and acted outrageously, while through the day I worked on my good old Bernina making clothes for men, women and a bit of both. A fabulous giddy year passed in a flash and it was time to return to London.


Now a separated party-loving, still adventurous gal, I moved on a whim and through a twist of fate, to Hollywood. It was a very different scenario that awaited me . The downtown scene had dissipated along with that 80's experimental edge. Don't get me wrong, LA was still exciting and unpredictable. It was zany, not avant garde, with an urgent "gotta make it" feel. Fame was the name of the game - you know, the "I'm only doing this between acting jobs " mantra.

At first I flung myself into partying, but in retrospect, the heart of the scene was not beating as fast. One fabulous person I got to know was the fascinating Holly Woodlawn. Holly had been one of Andy Warhol's Superstars and was the epitome of glamour with a lovely, witty personality that I was drawn to immediately. Sadly, as fate played its hand again I became ill and had to move away for several months in which time we lost touch, something I have always regretted.

While getting better I had an amazing experience, coffee with Anthony Hopkins - a couple of hours of bliss. The word "charisma" defines this man. The day he walked into the kitchen of the house I was living in and opened his mouth, and spoke with that voice, made my life. He was everything you would expect - the eyes, his mannerisms, wit, charm - gush gush gush. He told me he had worked in Newcastle, my hometown, with Richard Burton. He was a down to earth, class act. As he was leaving, someone daringly asked if he would make a sequel to Silence of the Lambs, and to my delight he turned to me, and in chilling Hannibal Lecter style, he said "Clarice". He was good enough to eat!

Alexis&Holly Finally, I entered a party free, very productive period of my life with fierce determination and drive. To start the ball rolling, I helped a designer who catered to Rock n' Roll's elite - Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, and Marilyn Manson, to name but a few. I was kept firmly in the background, sewing away every hour possible and plotting my escape to start my own line. My workmate was a lovely Vietnamese lady who had escaped the horrors of the Khmer Rouge by boat and had ended up as a seamstress, a brilliant one, in LA. She taught me so much and to my delight I got lots of gossip, innocently, from her. She had measured many an inside leg that many gals and guys would have relished doing! She wasn't fazed one bit by a famous name and half the time had very little idea who they were. As we toiled away, I discreetly interrogated her and she would nonchalantly tell me "Alice Cooper, narrow shoulders, large head, very friendly. Keanu, real tall, real nice. Marilyn Manson, lovely guy, very quiet" and so on. About the closest I got to any stars was designing and making some superhero costumes for The Monkees which actually gave me a thrill as I had worshipped them when I was a kid! Alas once more I was in the shadows and didn't get to do the fittings - drat!


At last it was time to set up on my own, and this I did in the shape of a line called Nice Nelly. LA is not the place for avant garde fashion and I battled to calm my designs down, I'm a "more is more" kinda gal! I recall one very prestigious shop on Melrose declaring that no one would ever wear rhinestones on denim when I presented my embossed patched and frayed skirts.  Battle on I did, the glorious weather keeping spirits up when sales were sometimes slow. I put my hand to everything to keep the wolf from the door. Outfits for Goth to strippers, a thong for a life-size bear puppet, and clothes featured on the extras in the Josie and the Pussycats movie and in several TV shows, including Buffy and Charmed.

Glue_NiceNellyJudith's Nice Nelly designs as styled for Glue magazine, Sept-Oct 2000

I rarely ventured out at night and was happily chained to the Bernina. I was also one of the only people I or anyone else knew of who would take the bus downtown to the fabric district, sometimes a hair-raising experience as it passed through one of the dodgiest areas. However, one party I couldn't resist was Leonardo Di Caprio's, I wasn't a fan but my expectations of a star-studded night ran sadly high. We got ludicrous directions to go to a parking lot on Sunset, leave the car, go through a metal detector and onto a mini bus that ferried us up to a haunted mansion in Los Feliz. The place was teaming with strippers, young wannabee anythings and a dash of bemused folk like me who also made a hasty retreat back to the mini bus and down the hill.

It's very normal to spot famous faces in supermarkets or just cruising Melrose, or in restaurants, even ice cream parlours - after all they are only human. The one star that made me self-conscious and get a silly walk as you do was Al Pacino - yummy! Seeing films such as one of those volcano movies being shot nearby was an every day event, and Biggie got shot just down the road - in fact it was quite normal to hear gunshots or helicopters overhead with the police on loud hailers shouting "put the gun down". And once in a while the earth would move in the literal sense, but that's LA!


JudithLA I couldn't leave you without touching on the Size O debate and a little gossip. First, size certainly does matter in LA, even if it constitutes size fraud! Here's a wee story that will either fill you with glee or have you running off to purchase a tape measure to keep in your bag. I got an order from a very "hip " LA boutique with a fab clientele. As always, after delivery, pessimist that I am, I sat by the phone. It did indeed ring and it was the shop saying there was a problem with the skirts and could I drop by. Fearing the worst, I put on my bravest face and walked head held high into the shop. Well, lo and behold, it was the sizing! I had used small, medium and large labels. The owner exclaimed, "No one will buy anything with large in it", saying that even medium was pushing it. Could I please go and change them, preferably to XXS, XS and S. The best I could do was XS, S, and M, as they were the only tags I had on hand. No wonder LA is sometimes called the Land of Make Believe.

Now for the gossip, which I've whittled down to one item in the spirit of politeness. I met a very nice, very creative florist who told me the tale of how a large order had been made from the PA of a very famous singer/actress who was known to be extremely tight with her millions. The order was for lots of blue flowers for a dinner party. The job was done beautifully and the flowers delivered. The next day the PA returned to the shop and declared that Miss S........ would not be paying for them. Why? Wrong shade of blue. Guess that's just the way she was...

After a few years I could no longer attempt to conform to the restrictions imposed on me. I craved the creative freedom of the avant garde world of fashion, so I had a garage sale, packed my bags and said goodbye to the circus that was LA. Off for the delights of Paris! However, the fabulous experience of living in LA was well worth it, I love that city!

Judith's sign off - 2

April 26, 2011

Frankly Frankland

DESIGNS ON LIFE by Judith Frankland

It's good practice to be wary when someone declares that their careers in designing, painting, singing, writing novels, etc.,  began at the age of two, or in some cases just after entering the world! However, sometimes these claims are in fact true. I was two or three years old when I was introduced to fashion and design. Do I remember? Alas no, my dear Mama told me. I do however believe a seed was firmly planted for the future.

Mum would take me almost daily into Newcastle city centre where she would leave me at one of the high end clothing shops she had worked in while she went off shopping. Evidently I would quietly watch as assorted ladies tried on a myriad of garments. These hung neatly in glass cabinets and were treated with the utmost respect and care. After this we would go to Fenwick, which at that time, had the fab carpet with the name on it throughout the store and you were served individually with a very personal touch. Up to the terrace coffee shop next where I would turn into my alter-ego Lila, and in answer to the waitress, "No, the little girl would have a coffee, not pop" and wanted to be treated like a grown up.

Back home Mum would draw ladies and ballerinas for me and encouraged me to draw dresses. Soon I was making countless books of designs, even pricing them. We got Vogue monthly and it was not long before I pawed endlessly through it. Mum made my clothes and I remember vividly a fuchsia cape, pinafore dress and beret. When I would get my hands on Dad's newspaper (The Telegraph) I headed hastily to the fashion page and its usual row of illustrations of the latest looks. From this, the one and only designer I have ever truly been a devoted fan of, was the genius Bill Gibb (See Bill Gibb, Fashion and Fantasy by Iain R Webb), who sadly left us way too soon. His amazing, innovative clothing was a wild and wonderful mix of contrasting fabrics, florals, stripes , tartan, anything and everything. It seemed he took his references from history and the world in all its glory. He was quite simply an inspiration and continues to be.

2011-04-14 Designs from then 15-year-old Judith

I have just finished taking part in an exhibition of a mix of artists and designers. My presentation of seven outfits is part of a work in progress to be finished very soon and used for promotional purposes in anticipation of presenting a small collection next fashion week in London. It is the first I have undertaken in eight years. The main reason I took part was a way of dipping my toes back into the water, rather than throwing myself in at the deep end, and to that end it was a worthy experience. The look of the collection is strong - I like to say "for the woman who likes to say hello"-  and bold, lots of colours and textures, using some marvellous school uniform fabrics I chanced upon. Manny More wonderfully illustrated the clothing in his unique and brilliant style that captures the exact feeling of the garments. (Denise will be talking to Manny in depth about his work soon.)


Fashion is my life, it always has been, even when I took detours running clubs in Italy and moving to different countries rather than towns. I was still making one-off commisions, and for several years had a line of a more commercial nature than the one I am now working on. I have finally found my niche. My life experiences are vast and varied and time will tell how this lust for adventure past and present influences my work as I enter my grown up period. I'm excited and have found immense pleasure in pattern cutting and want to explore the possibilities this can create in my next pieces. I would love to work with a professional pattern cutter in the future, and frankly, I feel they do not get the applause they deserve. We can all play with and drape fabric, but boy it takes talent to bring that to life. I want to stretch my imagination using the limitations a one woman venture has in a positive way, perhaps combining textures and colours to create my own personal cloth. I want to burst out and let my mind run riot and enjoy every minute, I'm ready.


All in all, the exhibition has made me focus and come to the ultimate conclusion that indeed my passion is for fashion, something I never really doubted in the first place, but a nice nudge is a good thing.

Judith's sign off - 2

David Johnson at has given a detailed account of my work in the exhibition. He also filled me with laughter, sushi and ice cream with his wonderful wit as a fab topping, a super weekend.

Also, see Katherine Wildman's coverage of the exhibition at North East Life - we love  her!


Illustrations by Manny More; photos by Denise Grayson; final photo of Judith and slider detail photos by Katherine Wildman

April 05, 2011

Frankly Frankland


Judith_Lacroix Around 2001 I moved from LA to that majestic masterpiece of a city, Paris. I called home a large fab apartment on a small street, which at the closer end had the bustling market street Rue Montorgueil and at the other end, the also bustling - but for very different reasons - Rue St Denis. There the ladies of the day and night competed for customers wearing some pretty outrageous and provocative outfits. On one occasion a group of ladies commented on my look with a resounding "c'est jolie " and from that day I started to get a faint nod of recognition as I passed regularly on my way to purchase fabrics or notions . If you want to discreetly glimpse at some amazing PVC and latex numbers, pop along the little side street Rue Blondel.
I worked constantly on my eponymous fashion line and my clothing went down a treat in Japan. Buyers would come to my apartment that converted into a convincing showroom during Fashion Week. It was a time of change for the better, away from the boundaries of the less adventurous LA, and I found myself becoming more experimental - inspiration was everywhere.
I would buy my fabrics in the maze of streets at the foot of the Sacre Coeur known as Marche Saint Pierre. If I recall correctly, the five floor store Dreyfus (selling everything from bargain basement fabrics to designer, and a fine range of basic cloth that suited me) was a regular haunt, but other less known gems were hidden along side streets. On the way home if I wasnt laden with goods I would pop into Tati, the shop with the pink and white gingham awnings. There you never knew what you might find from kitsch to useful or downright tacky and useless. It was plain old good fun shopping, cheap and cheerful (Metro Barbes Rochechouart). Then off back down the Rue Faubourg St Denis, passing my fave Passage Brady, a small covered passageway that was wall to wall Indian restaurants and food and trinket shops, simply yummy (Metro Chateau d'Eau). Then home to work.
Here are some pieces from my 2002 collections as styled for various Paris magazines:

This was my first time in Paris in the 70s, just minutes before a pastry hit me in the head!
From this wonderful melting pot of cultures and the most incredibly beautiful and exciting city hails my dear friend, journalist Richard Gilles. From next month he will become for Denise The Swelle Life's Paris eyes and ears and will report monthly from that grand city. Richard has that effortless chic that the French are renowned for. He is a well travelled, incredibly knowledgeable and cultured man and doesnt miss a trick. Perfect for Denise, living and working in the city she also adores. I asked Richard to give us a few tips on places to see which he has, and to my surprise has included a vivid funny account of how we met all those years back, the rascal.  Ahhh memories... à bientôt, J
*The couture coat I am wearing this week in my style photo was purchased in a "swap shop" for a mere 25 pence. The deal was you took in clothes you no longer wore, they gave you a price and you spent it in the shop.  I got £9.75 for my bits n bobs and nonchalantly asked for the coat in the window that I had spotted the day before when they were closed. I didn't sleep that night in anticipation - it's a "Lacroix, Darling"!

Judith's sign off - 2

And now on to Richard Gilles


 I vividly remember the first night Judith and I became firm friends: it was in Levita House – a rather derelict council building in the infamous Somerstown, where every single flat was squatted by either students, artists, or musicians but also a couple of Hell’s angels and drug dealers to add spice to the atmosphere - on the landing of the 5th floor. Judith was dressed to the nines, but no one to go out with her! So I gently obliged… And we lived out of each other’s pocket for the following two years, when she left with her newly wed Italian husband for a Californian honeymoon - the charms of Disneyland, Snow White and the seven dwarves… But that’s another story La Frankland will be happy to tell you in her monthly diaries! May I add that I was Judith’s “bridesmaid” at her wedding, which took place in Chelsea Town Hall in the winter of 2006 and that, to Judith’s father’s bemusement, I was wearing a red kilt… Mind you, Judith was wearing a white leather cap found in a gay sex shop and was sporting more chains than Mister T around her neck. So much for the blushing bride! For some reason, there are hardly any pictures of Judith and I together, except for those taken in Italy (Milan and Venice) in 1990…


Three days ago – just before MY BIRTHDAY! - Judith Darling asked me to concoct a quick shopping guide in Paris.  So I decided to concentrate on the area where I live, typically Parisian and tourist free most of the time. Welcome to the Faubourg Saint Antoine!

In a sense, the Faubourg Saint Antoine is famous all over the world as La Bastille was located there. In the fifteenth century, the faubourg became the principal working-class quartier of Paris, cradle of revolutions and mother of street fighters… the rest is history! From its beginnings, the principal trade associated with it has been furniture making, and this was where the classic styles of French furniture – Louis Quatorze, Louis Quinze, Second Empire – were developed. Many furniture workshops, as well as related trades such as inlayers, stainers and polishers, still inhabit the maze of interconnecting yards and passages that run off the faubourg.

But enough of that, I will take you shopping now…


Metalpointu's It’s about time to jazz up your little black dress, and Metal pointu's  bold jewelry will accomplish the expected miracle. The pieces are pure forms of daring, strong and bold metal.

Métal pointu’s, 9 rue de Charonne, 75009 Paris. Tel: +33 1 47 00 81 60




You want to feel like a true Parisienne? Cleo Ferin Mercury was brought up in the colourful and multicultural area of La Goutte d’or, at the bottom of Montmartre. Her beautiful printed silk scarves will add a “je ne sais quoi” to any outfit. For her latest collection, Cleo took inspiration from her childhood icons: a youthful Brigitte Bardot, Dame Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Wanda Jackson, and Grace Jones.

Discover Cleo’s world at



You love couture and exquisite ready-to-wear but you don’t want to break open the piggy bank? Le Dressing d’Eva is definitely worth a visit: one-off pieces by Pucci, Leonard, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, Missoni, and Mugler, custom jewelry and accessories by Chanel, Vuitton, Ferragamo, Valentino, and Fendi.

Le Dressing d’Eva, 18 rue Jules Vallès, 75011 Paris. Tel: +33 1 44 93 70 81



Around the corner, Anna Colore customizes and transforms industrial furniture and objects, giving them a bold, personal, feminine touch.

Anna Colore Industriale, 7 rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris, +33 1 43 79 41 62




Another curiosity is Petites Demoiselles, a temple dedicated to Blythe and Pullip dolls and their extensive, deluxe wardrobe.

Petites demoiselles, 16 rue des Boulets, 75011 Paris





Feeling peckish? Time to discover true Oriental delights. La Bague de Kenza is the ideal venue: sweets and pastries filled with almonds, pistachios, walnuts, figs, or dates, and flavored with honey, rose water, orange blossom water, mint, citrus, or vanilla are beautifully arranged on numerous trays.

La Bague de Kenza, 173, Rue du faubourg St-Antoine, 75011 Paris.


LivingRoom-Paris The shopping experience has been exhausting? Time for the French Coiffeur experience thanks to Matt, who will know how to make you feel that extra special. 

Living Room, 22 rue des Taillandiers, 75011 Paris. + 33 1 43 55 66 81







Craving for pampering? In the heart of a bustling city, Maison Dr Hauschka is a secret, peaceful haven dedicated to beauty and relaxation pleasantly located in a courtyard full of flowers.

La Maison Dr.Hauschka, 39 rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris. Tél :  +33 1 43 55 40 55





- Richard Gilles

Richard will be bringing his fantastic roundup of what's on in Paris and around the world as a regular feature - aren't we 'chanceux'!

April 04, 2011

Fashion Friday in Newcastle: Judith Frankland Exhibits


Our  fabulous Judith of Frankly Frankland (if you haven't read or at least seen her entertaining bi-weekly Tuesday posts you really must), is showing her latest couture collection in Newcastle, opening this Friday. She has made each piece by hand, and like Judith, they are full of surprises. Her show is part of an exhibition showcasing the work of talented women of the north east in their respective disciplines also including fine art, textiles, jewellery and illustration.

Her space will be like a 'home away from home' - Judith is creating the feel of her extraordinary living room at the gallery which will feature fashion illustations of her collection by Manny More whose vibrant work can be seen above. It's an exciting collaboration; Manny conveys the high fashion energy of Judith's outfits beautifully and chicly.

I'll be covering Judith's collection here, but if you're in the area it's well worth seeing in person - there's so much to explore in a shirt alone! Preview at the Holy Biscuit Gallery in Newcastle (opposite the Biscuit Factory) Friday, 8th April from 6-8pm. Come for a glass of wine and a chat with Judith!

DSC_0154-6 Judith at home in her wonderful living room

Fashion illustration by Manny More; photo by Denise Grayson

March 22, 2011

Frankly Frankland



Tim Potter would be a glorious Mad Hatter. He is creative, experimental and intensely loyal to his craft, he seems to relish in a challenge, having played many diverse roles over the years. He was just as at home playing Captain Hook in Finding Neverland (starring Johnny Depp) as he was portraying Spanish genius and serial lunatic Salvador Dali at the Royal Court. He stretched his skills even further playing Blanche DuBois in a production A Streetcar named Desire.

I met Tim at the Carlisle College of Art in the 1970s, we were both in the foundation course and became friends. He was striking, intelligent and hilarious. We had to do a bit of everything, and when Theatre came around Tim and I were in the same group. As luck would have it, it was Panto season. To my humiliation and horror I was chosen to play the Princess to 200 screaming kids twice daily for a week of torture. I was overweight, not pretty, a party animal and it was the eve of Punk. I was poured into an ugly Laura Ashley smock dress, hairpiece and make up that would have horrified the worst drag Queen. Tim played a brilliant Dick Dastardly type villain that was so scary one little boy had an accident when Tim went into the audience. As I climbed reluctantly up a wobbly high scaffold tower, stuck my head out of the "window" and cried help, one kid went as far as to shout "I wouldn’t marry her if you paid me!"

JudithFrankland_TheSwelleLife It was in this Theatre that one lunchtime I found Tim playing, very loudly, a fantastic record by a band called The Sex Pistols, and before I could say "Anarchy" I was hooked and soon morphed into "Looby”, the bow-loving colourful punk, egged on to be more OTT by Tim and his childhood friend Richard Ostell. When we went home at weekends we went to Maxim's disco in Barrow where once a week they had punk night. If the bands turned up (in those years it was always if) they would play to a handful of people - Tim and friends pogo-ing madly and Richard and I posing.

When Foundation finished Tim and I headed South - Tim to the Central School of Speech and Drama me to Ravensboune which fortunately was near Bromley, the town that the infamous" Bromley Contingent" which included Siouxsie, Steve Severin, Billy idol and Philip Salon, had put on the punk map. We had great nights up in the West End and at Croydon Greyhound. One afternoon, Tim and a friend popped a note through actor John Hurt’s door (he lived opposite) inviting him for coffee, and to their amazement he came and was just great. What a gent, what an actor! He was filming the Elephant Man at the time and told them David Lynch had shown the cast Eraserhead on set.

One of the last times I saw Tim in person was at a soiree celebrating his birthday held by his friend Rupert Everett at his flat in Chelsea. Tim was sitting in a rocking chair dressed as Miss Haversham, full of great expectations. (HA couldn’t resist!) That was the last memory I had of him until recently when we got back in touch, so very Tim. I spent many years living out of the country and so we had lots to catch up on. He told me that around 1979 he was a member of Acme Acting, explaining that the troupe would take the play to people’s homes. I was so interested and asked him if he would write a piece about his experiences way back then. He did and sent me some fabulous, startling pictures of himself in some of the productions he has been in. Enjoy!

JudithFrankland_TimPotter Judith (as 'Looby') with Tim Potter (far left) and Richard Ostell, 1977

Judith's sign off - 2

Over to Tim Potter...

TimPotter_FindingNeverland Tim Potter as Captain Hook in Finding Neverland, 2004

ACME ACTING performed plays in people’s homes. That is, we used the whole of the house, and the audience followed us room to room. The doorbell rang, and that was the start of the show. In Psycho, Norman Bates would enter, showing his guest, Marion Crane, around "The Bates Motel", i.e., your flat. Speaking dialogue from the movie, he'd fix her a snack of milk and cookies from your fridge, and chat to her over the kitchen table, with you watching, sometimes inches from the actors’ faces. When Marion took her shower (Marion was me, in black 1950s corset and knickers - well, I lacked the required female "bits"), I remember one householder, in a panic, begging us to stop. She got really freaked out. We didn't stop. How could you stop in the middle of a murder? In fact, we generally had the upper hand in the house, running up and down stairs, rifling through drawers and "personal things", using cutlery, serving up meals. The main shows, Psycho and Streetcar Named Desire, were played as realistically as possible (despite the inherent absurdity), so audiences ideally would be moved as well as amused. It was helped by being acted in real rooms and hallways, and peoples' homes took on a new dimension as backdrops to the drama. Your washing machine might go into a spin cycle, noisily interrupting one of Blanche and Stanley's scenes in Streetcar. Your pet dog might get very friendly with Norman Bates’ leg. Would you ever sleep soundly in your bed again, after witnessing Stanley rape Blanche there? (to the sound of jungle drums.) Would you ever step into that shower again? We left fake blood on the bathroom tiles, and people with a whole host of cracked memories.

ACME ACTING were Jim, Tim and Louis, recent graduates of the hated (to us anyway) Central School of Speech and Drama, a very conservative place. We needed to rebel against that authority (they'd expelled our friend Rupert Everett, so what the hell did they know?) and the youthful mood of the times was punkish, experimental, in a way perhaps unknown today. Our theatre company reflected that. It was a surprise hit, having a life of its own, and we performed to a lot of thrilled audiences - although it could go wrong, and I'm thinking of one Psycho to a solitary lady and dog in a council flat, where the performance was greeted only with a depressed silence. Ah, well...

For Tim Potter's full acting credits go to IMDb. Tim now lives in Brighton and is writing a children's book - perhaps a copy will find its way to the child of the child Tim scared all those years back? Alas that we will never know but in true dramatic style let’s assume it will!

  TimPotter_iDMagazine  Tim Potter and ACME ACTING in i-D magazine

AcmeActingTim, Jim and Louis of ACME ACTING

TimPotter_ApocalypseNowApocalypse Now

TimPotter_Psycho Psycho

  TimPotterPsycho Psycho

ACME ACTING photos courtesy Tim Potter; photo of Judith Frankland by Denise Grayson

March 08, 2011

Come back next Tuesday for Judith's latest!

Frankly Frankland

JudithFrankland_TheSwelleLifeJudith has held on and then some to that exuberant character and style that has inspired her peers. Pink 'Eyelash' dress and earrings by Judith Frankland, with hat from Relate charity shop.


TimSouthall_FionaBurr I met artist Tim Southall in the mid 80's when I moved into a tenement block in Somerstown (now immortalised by a film of the same name), situated between Euston and St Pancras stations in London. A tough Irish politically active area, so I was told. We were warned to stay out of certain pubs and mind our own business and all would be fine and it was. Except for one hungover Saturday when a friend and I ventured to the local shop and were chased by a gang of visiting football yobs (I was wearing a red white and blue stretch number with matching socks and platforms) - proximity to the main line stations on certain Saturdays could be risky! I hoisted my skirt up, off with the platforms, and we ran back into the maze of flats unharmed. Tim was my neighbour, we became friends. The whole building was full of artists, musicians, designers, professionals and the odd layabout. Jeremy Hardy, the hilarious, dry alternative comedian lived above me. Nightlife was in abundance and the scene was boiling over with clubs such as The Mud Club, the Asylum at Heaven, La Scala (all nighters) the Electric Ballroom and later Taboo, the Bell in Kings X was a regular meeting point, and the list goes on and on. Tim was a dedicated student at the Royal College of Art. We partied hard but work came first for Tim. My motivation and creativity came from what I was going to wear, constant new outfits using fabrics from Shepherds Bush market or Dalston. I was wearing bright colours, stripes, stars, polka dots - anything loud with kids' toys made into earrings, such as the big bright numbers I loved. A crazy, fun, carefree period when again I found myself in the midst of some hot talent. Tim was always at work or finding inspiration. He took me to The Chelsea Arts Club and numerous shows. When the time came for Tim to get his final show ready, to my delight he found inspiration in me for some of the wonderful, vibrant silkscreens.  I love them so much they make me happy and proud to look at. Me a muse, who would have thought? So with a smile on my face I will let Tim carry on as he has kindly sent a few words to go with the pictures. Thanks Tim for capturing that moment in time in such a fabulous way.

Judith's sign off - 2

  Plug me in and make Me Gogo Plug me in and make me go-go, 1985. Tim Southall. 120 x 80cm



Judith and I became friends in 1984 while I was in the second year of my masters degree at the Royal College of Art. I was immediately drawn to Judith with her larger than life character and crazy approach to life: a sort of smack you in the face and hope for the best, mad, living it large existence that I was desperately trying to create in my own life. Of course, there was also an echo of the age in this, a precursor to the Big Bang and excesses of the later Thatcher years. And Judith seemed to me to be the very embodiment of this age. Then there was the flip side; lurking in the shadows of those good times were all our demons, desperately trying to escape.

In the ‘Judith’ series of silkscreens, I was trying to capture all of the above and at the same time use Judith as a funnel for my own creativity. Much of my artwork rests on taking what might seem everyday and turning it into something special, fun or celebratory, often juxtaposed with pathos: Give Me A Drink… is a good example of this dichotomy swigging from the bottle in a bikini setting, not that Judith would ever be seen in a bikini! Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron shows a woman in a more passive role while also being a reflection on Judith’s profession, whereas Plug me in and make me go-go is an electrifying piece – Judith as a real live wire, stylishly dancing on the spot; I am a Woman of Steel, sees Judith fighting for the right to party.

I should perhaps mention ‘colour’ along with comedy and vibrancy, and size; these are the largest silkscreen I have made to date and of course, looking back now – 27 years later things look very different, but still, no subject has inspired me to work to such a scale.

Tim Southall 2011

Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron
Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron, 1985. Tim Southall.
105 x 77 cm

Give me a drink.72
Give me a Drink at an Impressionable Age and it’s Mine for Life, 1985. Tim Southall. 105 x 77cm

I am a Woman of Steel.72
I am a Woman of Steel, 1985. Tim Southall. 105 x 77 cm


Header photo of Judith Frankland by Denise Grayson


March 01, 2011

Frankly Frankland

Judith carries on from Act 1 of last week's Balenciaga Hears the Sound of Music - read it here.

Judith, with her vestal cherubs, says "Call me Old Fashioned but I couldn't resist." Nun's collar and cuffs by Judith Frankland, skirt is vintage from West Germany and the headpiece is from Relate charity shop. 

Act 2 The Chenil Gallery in Chelsea was the setting for my next show. Steve Strange modelled for me and asked his beautiful friend Francesca Von Thyssen to also do so.This led to the lovely spread in the Italian magazine Donna. Melissa Caplan, talented and extremely inventive, also showed her line. At that time she was dressing Steve, Spandau Ballet and Toyah. Our dressing rooms, like our clothes, could not have been more different. Melissa's was calm, organised, alcohol free. Mine chaotic, unorganised and alcohol friendly! To the sound of Ultravox's Vienna my models made their way, if somewhat wobbly, down the makeshift runway. It was a fun day.

Steve Strange and Francesca Von Thyssen model Judith Frankland

Judith's card

Judith's card from the 80s. She was 'Judi' then

I was next commisioned to make four outfits for Steve, a young boy, a teenage boy and an elderly man for Visage's Mind of a Toy  video. It was made by Godley and Creme (10 cc). The four identical suits were in pale blue/ turquoise moire taffeta with antique looking frilly lace shirts. It is a stunning video, beautifully shot. After the day filming, hair stylist extrordinaire Ollie and I went off to check out the Brummie rivals to London's Spandau, Duran Duran. We went in critical mode but after a few drinks left Planet Earth and had a fab time. A few weeks later so did Duran for different reasons - the rest is history.

Judith designed and made four costumes for Visage's Mind of a Toy Video

Judith Frankland's Mind of aToy Costume

Fade to Grey - Judith Frankland costume
Steve Strange wore Judith's designs for the Fade to Grey cover

HELL! An ironic name for Steve and Rusty's next club in Covent Garden. Why? Because word had spread about "The Blitz Kids " and how they dressed and acted, and as usual, some mindless buffoons didnt like it. They would come and stand outside heckling and threatening. The window was smashed one night and we were all locked in the club for our own safety. The end was in sight for that small selective scene. Some would acuse the Bowie video for this; however, while this is probably true, it was only part of the demise. It was on the cards as bands and designers took off and became household names, plus with all the magazine coverage and TV it was inevitable. And let's face it, fame was the name of the game for the majority of the patrons.

Judith kept the invite to Hell's opening night

On a lighter, funnier note - Steve had made me cloakroom girl, a job I also took over at The Blitz when (Boy) George got sacked. The cloakroom was next to Steve at the door. One night he had to leave me alone for a few minutes and gave strict instructions that no one was to come in free of charge. As fate would have it, Helmut Newton, Bianca Jagger, David Bailey and friends arrived. They sailed in and just as I was about to stop them to make them pay Steve had spotted them and came like a bat out of Hell to stop me. The visiting Royalty went off and spent the night in the kitchen!


Judith's designs featured in Donna magazine which featured Boy George, before fame, on the cover:

When Steve and Rusty decided to put on the big event "The People's Palace" at the Rainbow everything was changing and growing rapidly. The look we favoured was an Ethnic style, Berman and Nathans sale being a favourite haunt. Our look was a DIY style of long robes, baggy pants, big shirts,  beads, shawls, sandals and rags in the hair. Steve started to look like Robinson Crusoe with designer stubble and a "tan". There was to be a fashion show and I was one of the chosen ones, but to my horror everyone pulled out the day before. Steve would not hear of me bailing and picked me up in a taxi to make sure I arrived. It went on not as planned - six outfits does not maketh a show! It was a fiasco with the same models coming on twice to lengthen it. That evening and night bands such as Ultravox , Peter Godwin's Metro and dance troupe Shock performed. However, I have to say if there was one fabulous thing that did come out of this affair it was that a young Depeche Mode played! I can actually say I was on the same bill as them - HA! To this day they are still one of my favourite bands and probably the most consistently successful and innovative to come out of those years .

JudithFrankland_i-DMagazine  "New Romantic" hit the High Street and Royalty attempted a watered down version to the delight of the masses and the club scene exploded. The last of the "Dress up" clubs was, I would say, St Moritz, hosted by Chris Sullivan. It had a 1930s Berlin ambiance and everyone made an effort to look impeccable. The music was eclectic, the club ran for a short time and I really liked that night out. Le Beate Route and Le Kilt became the next "in" places and bank holidays in Bournemouth with, for instance, Blue Rondo a la Turk playing. It was all very boozy and wild with lots of fun heaped on top. However, a new theme to my life was about to begin and I took off to Vancouver on a whim. I stayed almost a year. I had started my search for home and this would take me back and forth to more foreign destinations over the years. To this day, every few years I get itchy feet and flee to pastures new.

Well, I have tried to fill you in a little on those early heady days, and next week I will begin the real reason I loved the idea of this opportunity to write this blog. That being to share tales of the things I love, people I admire, and celebrate some of the incredibly talented and interesting folk I have met along my way .

Next week I will start withTim Southall, an incredibly gifted artist who was still at the Royal College of Art when I met him back in the mid 80s. He did me the honour of doing some prints inspired by me and included them in his graduation show. Big question: "What do I wear? " It's just like going to the Blitz again - all I know is it must be bright. However, right now I'll just Fade to Grey 'til the next time. PS. Lots of outrageous events have been left out of this week's blog to protect the not-so-innocent, including myself!

Judith's sign off - 2

Photos of Judith Frankland by Denise Grayson

February 22, 2011

Frankly Frankland  Collages7-2 Judith Frankland wears a top, skirt and earrings of her own design. The perfect transition outfit for busting out of the convent.


That was the description given to my graduation collection by a very generous journalist  back in 1980. My name in the same breath as the Spanish genius Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972) and my beloved "I want to be a nun when I grow up" film The Sound of Music - how fabulous! I accepted the comparison and compliment with delight - after all, I'm only human! My graduation show at The Cafe Royale in London was attended by some of the most glamourous faces from the Blitz and the Head honcho himself, Steve Strange. Thanks to them it was received with an enthusiastic cheer! I was told years later that Vivienne Westwood was there, this was before the McClaren-Westwood Worlds End collection had been unleashed on an awestruck London.

My small collection was predominantly black and white taffeta, brocade, velvet and satin.The black and white striped satin had embossed polka dots in turquoise and yellow in two different sizes and widths; it also came with a tale or perhaps a tall story . The delighted salesman who brought the bolts up from the basement of the shop in London "especially for me" proceeded to tell me that this fabric had been created for the Rolling Stones some years back for a tour and this was the last remaining yardage. With glee I didn't hesitate to say "I'll take it all" and the story, to this day I don't know the truth, but then again I still believe in Father Christmas!



 On the day of the show, my Mum who had travelled down from the Lake District with her friend was backstage with me while I nervously put the finishing touches to the frocks. Today, at 81 years old, she still recalls seeing a rather unusual looking young man coming towards us. He was wearing a suit complete with knickerbockers and ballet style shoes with bows, carrying what turned out to be the crowning glory of my ultimate piece, the black Wedding Dress. This gracious and polite young man was Stephen Jones who had kindly created this architectural wonder for me. This veil headdress was made of stiffened lace on a metal frame and was simply amazing. Who would have thought at that moment that a few years later he would be hailed as one of the world's greatest milliners? Hmm...actually anyone who came into contact with him or his work knew, it was so obvious. The dress and veil was to be worn by the beautiful statuesque model Sheila Ming, possibly best remembered now for her role in the Duran Duran video for Hungry like the Wolf.

After the show, Steve Strange contacted me and bought the dress and veil along with a couple of other pieces. One was a medieval-style taffeta jacket he later wore on the cover of the Visage single Fade to Grey. One of Steve's friends Vivienne Jagger bought the opera coat with striped polka dot lining and a huge stand up collar.


The icing on the cake however was the night David Bowie came to The Blitz searching for extras for his new single which would be named Ashes to Ashes. In a wonderful twist of fate, Steve was resplendent in the wedding outfit that night and was chosen straight away. He was also asked to select people he felt could be right. I believe designer Stephen Linard had been asked but due to pressing circumstances was unable to partake. I was invited as was Darla Jane Gilroy over to the table where David Bowie and his P.A. Coco were sitting and offered a glass of champagne. Darla and I were both dressed in a similar ecclesiastic style and were also asked to take part for what at that time was a decent sum of money for penniless, decadent students. We were told Coco would call us the following day with the details. I awoke with a jolt, seriously wondering if this had all been a dream. I chose to believe not and sat at the door of the "palatial" bedsit for hours waiting for the communal upstairs phone to ring so that I could sprint up in time to catch it. When the call finally came, I was instructed to be outside The Hilton the next day at some ungodly hour, fully dressed and made up the same way I had been at The Blitz, and to get the coach to a secret location.

  Judith1980-WeddingDress That wedding dress from Judith's graduate collection with the veil made by Stephen Jones


Judith performed in David Bowie's iconic Ashes to Ashes video along with three of her Blitz friends, including Steve Strange who wore her wedding dress and veil in some of the scenes. Judith is on the far right in the first screen cap.

Screen Captures15-2

When we arrived at the beach near Hastings, the crew was set up and David Bowie greeted us dressed in the Lindsay Kemp outfit he would wear that day. He coached us for a few minutes on the words we were to mime and then the day was spent in sinking sand and mud. We had "done well" we were told at the end of the day and asked to come to the studios in Wandsworth to shoot another scene. May I add that at the studios David Bowie had lunch with us mere mortals in the canteen. Yummy. The scene we were to do at the studio involved an explosion and I was at the back. In fact if you look at the video you can see my crucifix swing in. We were told to duck out and run after we had mimed our piece or we could be hurt. This was difficult in a hobble dress, so I hoisted it up as high as I could and got ready to run. Quite a sight for the superstar sat behind me. It took about three takes and we were done and told we could stay to watch the rest of the filming and that we should tell no one about the details of the video. It was all very hush hush.

The night it aired on Top of the Pops I was working at Hell (another Steve and Rusty club - more about that next week). As I had to get there early I would take the tube alone, a daunting affair. However, this particular Thursday I was wearing the outfit I had worn in the video, totally unintentionally. I was recognised by some people who had seen Top of the Pops and ridiculed by others, as usual. But it was worth it. To this day that video still interests and intrigues lots of folk. It was at the time the most expensive video ever made and the song went to Number 1, perhaps we should have bartered for more money. The mileage I got out of that collection had only just begun and I was an established New Romantic.

Adieu for now from this Old Romantic who will never be a nun.

Judith's sign off - 2


Judith, who was known as Judi back then, had pieces from her graduated collection featured in Viz magazine where it was described as '"Balenciaga hears the Sound of Music'"

Special thanks from Judith to David Johnson for "reviving the mucky 30-year-old slides and bringing them back to life." The photographer who shot them was Niall McInerney.

Header photo of Judith by Denise Grayson.

Come back next Tuesday for Act. 2 - with more delightful (and some bitchy) surprises!

February 15, 2011

Frankly Frankland

Judith in her living room

 Judith in her wonderful living room. When we shot, she felt the decor may not be 'enough'! Skirt and tie by Judith Frankland; jacket, shirt, and shoes are charity shop finds. Photo: Denise Grayson

Style guru, self appointed expert, critic, preacher? No way! I'm an upstart and a woman like many who loves - and in my case 'lives' - fashion and the world that lurks around it, a world I have stepped in and out of all my life living in London, Vancouver, Milan, Los Angeles and my beloved Paris. I have an excitable, excruciatingly inquisitive mind; I never stop thinking, plotting and some would say talking!

I am not a lover of the term "On trend"; I like to say "On form". Micro mini to maxi. If it feels right on the day I'll wear it - no sheep mentality for me. The only thing I follow is the weather - a hard job in Olde England. I, like zillions of others, love to wear clothes, dress up and be noticed, and I shall be incorporating a weekly look alongside my banter. I mix bargain buys, charity shop finds and my own creations. I'll be begging a hairstylist friend once in a while to do me a 'do as I'm not good with tongs unless provoked.

When Denise offered me this weekly spot on The Swelle Life I was so flattered and jumped at the chance to let off some creative steam and share my experiences, past and present. And we'll have a good old romp through my ever-expanding wardrobe, so come join me every Tuesdsay as I throw myself back into the lion's den to launch a new collection later this year.

Judith in her two-tiered skirt Judith in one of her fantastic creations, a two-tiered skirt in a bubble of 'school boy' fabric over plaid ruffles in pink and purple.  Photos: Denise Grayson

A Brief History

My life so far has been full of surprises and more than my share of drama, which I seem to attract! My roots - well, the ones on my head are grey now - but the ones from my past were very colourful, from punk to New Romantic and a lot more along the way. Now you may think "Aha - trends!" but at the time they were fresh. I was in the right place at the right time at the right age. These were groundbreaking times, full of self expression and the desire to have a unique look. Often peoples' perception of punk is different from mine. In the early days, the look was bright, not just black, ripped and safety pinned. One of my outfits was an orange lurex two-piece, purple tights, odd dayglo socks, pink kitten heels. Bows all over my head, a plastic mac with small kids' toys attached (ok, with safety pins). That was one way I would troll up on Bromley high street on my way to college. I loathed college, and it wasnt keen on me either, at least the boring head honchos weren't. We would buy boiler suits and dye them bright colours, all very DIY and inexpensive. As my mood darkened mainly due to my dislike of that dreaded place, I started to embrace the all-black and tartan style and a bit of a bad attitude that was to become the punk stereotype.

 163156_138792132846953_100001485016473_238208_3913804_nJudith in the mid-80s with friend and artist Tim Southall. Photo: Richard Sawdon Smith

The Blitz

Then the Blitz and Steve Strange came hurtling into my life where weekly we paraded around proud as peacocks. It was out and out glamour as we danced to the brilliant DJ Rusty Egan. Steve and Rusty started this night in the small wine bar in Holborn that held around 250 people. Lucky fashion plates, it changed the course of my life and gave chances to many others. I had met Steve through my degree show which was later labelled New Romantic and he bought several pieces from this collection.

Every week in the (less than) palatial South Kensington bedsit I shared with my friend, designer Richard Ostell, we would spend hours coming up with what to wear. Poor Richard had the labourious task of using a can of Elnette and a lot of elbow grease to create a bouffant for me without a hair extension in sight; in fact I'm not sure they existed then. We were optimistic, fame hungry, party animals with a fondness for cocktails and the fine things in life, but booted back to reality when the bank statement came as the majority of us were students. Apart from that it was a fantastic time!

At the Blitz you would rub shoulders with luminaries from the world of art, music, fashion, journalism and photography: Gilbert and George, Brian Clarke, model Marie Helvin, even John Lydon AKA Johnny Rotten, and many others. But not Mick Jagger. Steve Strange famously denied him entry one night - his look didn't pass! And then of course there were the stars of the near future strutting their stuff: Sade, Spandau Ballet, George (later to become Boy), and Midge Ure to name a few.

I had my "15 minutes" when I was handpicked to appear in David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes video. I followed this with a video for Visage's Mind of a Toy single, designing and making the costumes - more on both in a future post. The site Shapers of the 80s gives a very accurate look into this era with some great pictures. A few colourful if somewhat chaotic fashion shows were next and then off I was on my travels.


Milan and Onward

After a few moves I settled into running clubs in Milan and one-nighters throughout Italy. We brought from London the fabulous Gerlinde Costiff and hubby Michael with the "girls" and DJs from their legendary club, Kinky Gerlinky. Leigh Bowery hosted a night sporting two pairs of shoes at once and a toilet seat around his neck for starters. Showcases followed for Seal, Right Said Fred, Dee-Lite, Ru Paul, Lahoma van Zandt and super DJ Larry Tee from New York. Fashion shows, parties for MTV, the list is long. It was a crazy, fast time.

After some years in Milan I flew the nest to LA where I started a clothing label selling in various shops around the city. Next it was Paris where I happily started to export to Japan. A busy, satisfying life with lots of work and all rather glam in the way only Paris can be.

These days I'm treating my mind and body with respect, and as a friend brilliantly put it after his abstinence over the holidays, "My liver loves me." I'm channelling all my energy and my retirement from the wilder side of life into creativity. I have many frocks to make, places to see, people to meet, and things to learn - writing well being one of them. Be gentle with me, please! I'm full of surprises and hope you can be lured back even just to look at the pictures!

Judith's sign off - 2

Join us next Tuesday for Balenciaga Hears the Sound of Music - how a journalist described Judith's graduate collection. She'll share photos of her fantastic creations and tell the story of that fateful night when David Bowie came into the Blitz and chose her, three friends and the fabulous black lace wedding dress from her collection to appear in the Ashes to Ashes video. A great story all around - and as promised, there will be surprises!


PORTER Magazine issue 5 now available at NET-A-PORTER.COM

Cupcake Monday!

Interiors & Exteriors

Floral Friday

London Fashion Week

Fashion Illustrator Series

Artist Series

Paris & Cities

Painted Houses Project

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