Judy Blame (1960-2018) was a much loved figure of the fashion industry, defining the visual culture of the eighties through his work across fashion, jewellery, art direction, styling and more. An OG creative polymath, Blame was a pioneer of the genre-bending sampling approach we see across the creative arts today. His magpie aesthetic and collages using found objects have continued to be highly influential.
No wonder then, that Kim Jones–who knew and worked with Blame early on in his career–turned to Blame's legacy as inspiration for his A/W 20 collection for Dior Men. The collection contained references to Blame's jewellery work, with sparkling metalwork cascading from corsage pins, featuring wrenches and keys, Blame signatures, reworked by Yoon Ahn; and the safety pin motif piercing the O in an embroidered DIOR logo.
Reverence for the late stylist was woven into knits, with Dior's traditional toile de Jouy transformed into 'toile de Judy' on intarsia sweaters; and his styling tropes–elbow-length gloves–were added to suiting and outerwear looks.
The collection also referenced Blame himself - he would often be photographed wearing flat caps, and one created for Dior by Stephen Jones has an arrow motif on top, just like the one Blame shaved into his hair.
Knowing Blame's continuing influence on the industry today, we asked Stephanie Nash, a long time collaborator of Blame's, and Isaac Murai-Rolfe, Blame's godson (both members of Trust Judy Blame, the organisation that looks after the Judy Blame archive) for their memories of him.
Graphic designer Stephanie Nash of Michael Nash Associates met Blame, when they were commissioned to design the Neneh Cherry Raw Like Sushi album artwork. The pair 'hit it off from the very beginning', becoming close friends and collaborators on multiple projects, including working with Massive Attack, Kylie Minogue and Björk.
'We spoke every day for three and a half decades - about our projects together, and about life,' Nash explains. 'He was part of my daily routine. He used to call me in the morning, saying, "I'm going to have my breakfast and then I'll have a bath and then I'll be in." When he arrived, we'd just gossip for probably two or three hours before actually getting down to some work!'
Judy Blame was a 'big part of my process', Nash reports.
'He was always in the studio, and if I was working on something, he'd look over my shoulder and go, "Oh, have you thought of that? Or maybe you should do that." And likewise, he'd bring in all his jewellery, and I would try it on and then he'd go, "Oh, move that bit!"'
Blame also collaborated outside of his peer group, not only with the designer Christopher Shannon, but with his godson Isaac Murai-Rolfe: 'Judy was just generally in my life, for my entire life - I worked with him on-and-off, assisting on projects for over a decade.'
Murai-Rolfe recalls the many adventures (and misadventures) with Blame, recounting, 'I was assisting Judy on a limited range of handbags with Paco Rabanne, so we went down to the basement of Puig to look through the archives, and it was only when we tried to leave that we realised I'd accidentally locked us in. We were stuck there for about an hour: Judy was halfway between hitting me and having a panic attack. We got out in the end, but it took a while for him to settle down - that's one of my funniest moments with him.'
But what would the man himself have made of the collection? Stephanie Nash said of the collection: 'Isaac and I have been lucky enough to see it. I find it very moving, a very fitting tribute to Judy. Kim has been totally respectful of Judy's work, heritage and standing. Kim hasn't copied Judy, but taken his spirit and pushed it into a new dimension. It's sad that Judy's not here to see it, but I know that he would have loved every single bit of it, and he would have wanted to wear it. Only somebody who knew Judy very well could have done that. In fact, I can't imagine any other house or designer who could even have got anywhere near this level.'
Murai-Rolfe agrees, adding: 'When we were there to see the collection, they were trying out styling, and I feel like Jones' collection is an abstracted reference to Judy's work. You couldn't really put your finger on one specific piece and say, "That's one of Judy's," but in aggregate, it has tapped into Judy's eye, how he put outfits together. The collection is better than I could have possibly imagined, in terms of conveying Judy but also making it new, fresh and separate.'