Tag Archives: Judith Frankland

➤ Judith Frankland experiments with power and femininity

Judith Frankland, Winter 2011-12,fashion, Hello collection,Holy Biscuit gallery,

The Woman Who Likes to Say Hello collection, by Judith Frankland for Winter 2011-12 — on show this week at Newcastle’s Holy Biscuit gallery. Photography © by Shapersofthe80s

❚ POWER DRESSING FOR THE WOMAN determined to make her mark seemed to be the theme of Judith Frankland’s comeback collection unveiled in Newcastle upon Tyne this weekend. With seven outfits put together from separates all juxtaposed in an immaculately tailored riot of colour and texture, this was Frankland at full throttle. Former Blitz Kid Judith herself claimed her new look was for “The Woman Who Likes to Say Hello”. Here were corporate pinstripes, nipped waists, military chains, tight collars with kipper ties, and figure-hugging contours, softened with feminine ruffles, twisted sleeves, puffball shoulders, festooned skirts and gipsy prints. The mix of fabrics included wool suiting, lace, lamé, taffeta, cotton and duchess satin. One visitor at the preview summarised the contrast between a daring sense of the contemporary and elements of period drama as “woman in the boardroom aching to be romantic heroine”. Judith wants you to “interpret these pieces as you wish — take a skirt or a top and pair it with something you love in your wardrobe. I applaud experimentation and individuality”. Her collection is showing until Friday in a mixed show of women artists.

Judith Frankland, Winter 2011,fashion, Hello collection,Holy Biscuit gallery,Boardroom boss

Boardroom bosses in kipper ties — The Woman Who Likes to Say Hello collection, by Judith Frankland

Judith Frankland, Winter 2011,fashion, Hello collection,Holy Biscuit gallery,  governess

The governess and the hostess — The Woman Who Likes to Say Hello collection, by Judith Frankland

Judith Frankland, Winter 2011,fashion, Hello collection,Holy Biscuit gallery,Top brass

Top brass and Downton flapper — The Woman Who Likes to Say Hello collection, by Judith Frankland

Judith Frankland, Winter 2011,fashion, Hello collection,Holy Biscuit gallery,

Top brass detail: bowtie and waistcoat in blazer suiting, by Judith Frankland

Judith Frankland, Winter 2011,fashion, Hello collection,Holy Biscuit gallery,

Downton flapper detail: puffball sleeve in gold brocade, by Judith Frankland

➢ An Eclectic Mix of Arts & Design runs April 8–15 at the Holy Biscuit gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1YH. Others showing are Tutu Benson, Anne Johnson, Helen Moss, Sheelagh Peace, Susan Stanton, Jill Stephen

➢ Preview: A swelle hello from upstart Judith

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➤ A swelle hello from upstart Judith, returning in an explosion of colour

Blitz Kids, David Bowie,Ashes to Ashes , Judith Frankland

Blitz Kids chosen by Bowie to star in his Ashes to Ashes video, 1980: Darla-Jane, Steve, Judith and Elise with Bowie at centre as Major Tom. © EMI

❚ WE ALL REMEMBER DESIGNER Judith Frankland’s nun-like appearance in David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980 alongside Steve Strange who was wearing her infamous black wedding dress. Tomorrow Judith unveils her first women’s collection in eight years at the Holy Biscuit gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne, in a week-long show by a mixed group of women artists. She says her new outfits are designed for “The Woman Who Likes to say Hello!”

Judith Frankland, fashion, Holy Biscuit gallery, Newcastle

Judith’s flyer illustrated by Manny More

They are joyous explosions of colour that, she insists, “come from within my well travelled head” — and here we’re talking the shock tactics of an eternal punkette, whose own looks veer between the immaculate cool of revue star Bea Lillie and the fruitiness of dancer Carmen Miranda. At the height of the Blitz club’s notoriety, Judith’s playful yet tailored outfits adorned Steve Strange as vocalist with Visage to become some of the most distinctive styles of the New Romantics movement. Most memorable was the taffeta jacket with medieval flourishes on the cover for Fade to Grey.

Judith Frankland, Milan, clubbing, Pussy Galore,

Milanese night warrior: Judith during her Pussy Galore hostess era, 1989-96

Where did the last 30 years go for Judith? She has lived more lives than the rest of us ever will, in a whirl of bespoke design partnerships and nightclub promoting from Vancouver to LA to Milan to Paris, fuelled by acerbic wit and a mighty big heart. With such landmark clubs as Pussy Galore and Chocolat City, the Italians branded her one of “i guerrieri della notte” — the warriors of the night.

In the end she returned to Tyneside to look after her ailing mum, and only now has she found the time and energy to return to the fashion fray. Judith’s last business was based in Paris and that’s where she plans to return next year. The new Winter 2011/12 collection is a modest calling card that exploits a secret stash of “school-blazer fabrics” in stripes and vibrant colourways. Judith has suffused uniform wool suitings with a positively romantic glow.

With the left hand, she has been contributing to a smart new blog called The Swelle Life, run by writer-photographer Denise Grayson. Here in her own uninhibited confessional style, Judith pays generous tribute to the inspirational circle of friends she has acquired on her travels.

Judith Frankland, fashion,nun,Sound of Music

Judith’s nun look from 1980, left, echoed in 2011, right. After fashion, her second passion is the film The Sound of Music. “I hate revisiting the past,” she maintains, but for her Swelle Life blog, she couldn’t resist accessorising this vintage German skirt with her own nun’s collar and cuffs. Photographs by Derek Ridgers and Denise Grayson

Judith Frankland, Paris, 2002

From Judith’s 2002 collection while living in Paris: her apartment in rue Montorgueil just by Les Halles converted into a showroom during fashion week

Judith Frankland, Christian Lacroix , fashion

A couture original: When Shapersofthe80s visited Judith’s Old Curiosity Shoppe of a home last summer, she showed off the latest treasure acquired from her local thrift shops, this Lacroix coat, priced 25 pence! Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ HERE’S HOW JUDITH INTRODUCED HERSELF
AT THE SWELLE LIFE BLOG

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. 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. I mix bargain buys, charity shop finds and my own creations.

 Denise Grayson, Judith Frankland,The Swelle Life, fashion,Winter 2011-12

Judith models her Hello! look for Winter 2011/12: day wear and evening wear giving new life to school-blazer suitings. Jewellery from the designer’s own massive collection. Photographed © by Denise Grayson

London’s Cafe Royal, 1980: Judith’s graduation show from Ravensbourne college of art caused a sensation with a glamorous evocation of the 50s in black and white taffeta, brocade, velvet and satin. Its climax was this black wedding dress worn by Sheila Ming, gloriously crowned by Stephen Jones’s veiled head-dress made of stiffened lace on a metal frame. Blitz club host Steve Strange was later to wear it in David Bowie’s video for Ashes to Ashes. Photographed © by Niall McInerney

Ashes to Ashes, video, Judith Frankland, David Bowie, fashion, Blitz Kids

On the beach at Hastings filming Ashes to Ashes: Judith (right) in the ecclesiastical habit Bowie had seen her in at the Blitz, with Steve Strange (second left) in Judith’s black wedding dress he’d also worn that night (head-dress by Stephen Jones). Elise and Darla-Jane wear their own outfits. What with the shingle and the quicksand and Steve trying to outrun the bulldozer, Judith says the wedding dress was completely destroyed. © EMI

➢ An Eclectic Mix of Arts & Design runs April 8–15 at the Holy Biscuit gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne. Join Judith for a chat at the preview this Friday 6–8pm. Others showing are Tutu Benson, Anne Johnson, Helen Moss, Sheelagh Peace, Susan Stanton, Jill Stephen

➢ Update — Judith’s new collection for Winter 2011–12 reviewed

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1981 ➤ New Romantics have their day — rearranging the deck-chairs at the posers’ ball

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics

Valentine ball, 1981: last gasp for the New Romantics. Photographed © by Caroline Greville-Morris

❚ VALENTINE’S DAY 1981 was not so much the Woodstock of the New Romantics movement, but more akin to a Scouts and Guides jamboree in a giant ornamental wigwam in north London. Instead of boasting proficiency in camping and camouflage, a few hundred suburban Romantics fluffed up their frills and plastered on the Pan Stik to parade their skills in masquerade and maquillage. The “People of Romance”, as the tickets described them, paid £3.50 for a long evening starting at 5pm. They were expected to hold their own as stars alongside the cult’s budding bands at a venue renamed for a day The People’s Palace.

Astoria Finsbury Park, church, cinema, London

Andalusian fantasy: balcony view of the 1930 Astoria Finsbury Park, now restored. Photographed 2008 © hjuk/Flickr

An auditorium in Finsbury Park made the perfect backdrop. When it opened in 1930, the Astoria was one of Europe’s flagship cinemas seating 3,000 people. Its gloriously kitsch interior architecture depicted an Andalusian village whose rooftops and twisted barley-sugar pillars climbed towards a horizon and the starlit indigo ceiling way above balcony level. For a decade from 1971 the theatre had become a live rock venue, hippily renamed the Rainbow, where finally the stalls had been deprived of seats in favour of dancing audiences. Later the very year it hosted the People’s Palace, the place was to fall into disuse for a decade and a half, before being rescued and restored by a Pentecostal church.

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics, Steve Strange

Steve Strange at the People’s Palace, 1981: plus loyal acolytes Myra, Judi and Mandy. In a fleeting fashion show, Judi showed six outfits which along with others for Strange’s videos helped shape the New Romantics silhouette. Photographed © by Caroline Greville-Morris

Thirty years ago today, posses of over-the-top Romantics incongruously wandered its vast auditorium and bars and cavernous Moorish lobby in search of photo opportunities. It seemed at times as if photographers outnumbered the cast. Richard Young, king of London’s celebrity snapperazzi, had arranged two sheets to create an impromptu studio where he was immortalising the generation who relished calling themselves posers, garbed from top to toe in bejewelled, befeathered lace and velvet and ridiculous hats.

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics

Performance contracts for the People’s Palace, 1981: Shock were paid £500, Metro £250 and Depeche Mode £50. Source: Rusty Egan archive

The soundtrack throughout was the latest electronic pop, spun on Rusty Egan’s turntables as well as played live onstage. On this Saturday Ultravox were arriving at No 2 in the singles chart with Vienna, and here at The People’s Palace they were topping a bill booked by the event’s promoters, Egan and Steve Strange, to capture the zeitgeist, even as the duo planned their next clubbing venture following the closure of their Blitz nights.

Much as Midge Ure protested about his band qualifying as New Romantics, in February ’81 any band toting synths ticked the box. Among supporting acts the then unknown Depeche Mode opened the live sets for a handsome fee of £50 in their first major performance off the clubbing circuit, one week before releasing their debut electro-single Dreaming of Me.

Metro band, pop, Future Imperfect, record sleevesPeter Godwin revived the new-wave band-name Metro, surfing in on the strength of their 1980 album Future Imperfect, followed by the dance troupe Shock, dressed by Birmingham’s Kahn and Bell, as exponents of the robotic dance-style across Britain’s clubland where their single Angel Face was a dancefloor hit.

Steve Strange had hoped to stage a splashy fashion show too, though according to Judi Frankland — who had featured with her outfits in Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video the previous summer and is visible second from right in the masthead for Shapersofthe80s — “The other designers pulled out at the last minute and as I was still under Steve’s spell he made me carry on and do a ‘show’ alone with a mere six outfits. When he pulled me onto the stage, ohhh that still makes me cringe! However the one good thing I got out of it was being on the same stage as my faves, still to this day, Depeche Mode. I keep bumping into lovely Dave Gahan every few years in the most unexpected places.”

Meanwhile most of the original Blitz Kids — who had animated the Bowie credo that behind a mask you can be anyone you wish — wouldn’t be seen dead at The People’s Palace. In the wake of chart success by Spandau Ballet and Visage, they were competing in a calculated dash towards fame and fortune in clubland, glossy mags and the music biz, whose singles charts by the summer of 1981 welcomed Landscape, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The Human League, OMD, Level42, Duran Duran, Heaven 17, Altered Images and Imagination.

Like Midge, we can argue ad finitum whether these acts all technically counted as the New Romantics bandwagon, but they did play dance music, not rock — which defines the reformation that fundamentally vanquished rock to change the sound of the 80s charts — and all benefited from the momentum, as ABC’s Martin Fry later acknowledged. Most of them would, however, set about shaking off the hollow Romantics label in favour of their own musical tastes as soon it had served its purpose. For the moment, like the Titanic heading unwittingly towards its iceberg, the preening Lord Foppingtons and Lady Buxoms at the Rainbow were unaware that theirs was the last real gasp of The Cult That Had Gone Too Far. By Valentine’s Day 1982, there were so many new fashion factions that they would never have turned up for the same ball.

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics, Astoria Finsbury Park

Frills, tassels and hats: Arrivals at the New Romantics ball, 1981. Photographed © by Caroline Greville-Morris

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