#MyHistory: Ola Hudson
We are in the midst of fashion weeks, the unveiling of President & First Lady Obama's portraits just happened, BHM is still rocking on..it's just a really good time to be a creative and I am so inspired by my recent discoveries in black fashion history. Let's get into the history of costume/fashion designer Ola Hudson.
General information about Hudson was not hard to find, but I was surprised that I didn't know of her especially considering her involvement in some of pop culture's most iconic looks. Just to give you a short summary of her credentials, Hudson was the long time designer for David Bowie and created work for the Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, The Pointer Sisters, John Lennon and more. You also may know her as the mother of Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash.
Ola Hudson's foundation in the arts didn't begin with fashion. Hudson had an intensive training background in dance studying at the Lester Horton School of Modern Dance (Alvin Ailey trained with Horton) the Institute of Dance in Paris, at Le Loft in Switzerland and the Max Rivers School in London. She later studied costume and fashion design at Santa Monica College
Ebony Magazine, July 1969 p.67
Magsaysay, Melissa. City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, from Bohemian to Rock. New York City: Harper Collins, 2012
You may have noticed earlier in the post a casual name drop of David Bowie, let's get into that. Hudson designed the waistcoat and pant look worn by Bowie in the 1976 film, The Man Who Fell To Earth for the Thin White Duke persona.
She's credited to have designed other suits worn in the film but this is the only look that has concrete credit. Hudson went on to work with Bowie for costuming the Isolar Tour (the tour that supported the Station to Station album). A quick Google search will also yield some interesting results about collaboration between Hudson and Bowie in the romance department but we'll stay focused on the fashion.
When searching for visuals of her work with other stars like Diana and Janet, I came up short. These stories take the familiar unfortunate term of the lack of archiving.
Once again, the archives of Ebony Magazine provided more info on Hudson's work outside of Hollywood stars. Hudson and her family called Laurel Canyon, California home but lived in London and other parts of Europe for several years. While being US based she owned a boutique on the Sunset Strip called "Skitzo", the store was credited to have unique finds and London flavor. Fellow Hollywood boutique owner Charles Lange said "She was always very artistic and really a fluid illustrator. She really understood the human form and how to drape clothes on it. She was fun a free spirited"
Hudson went on to design collections for major retailers line Henri Bendel, Fred Segal, Neiman Marcus and Maxfield Blu. Towards the end of her career, it seems that Hudson explored her other creatives talents heavily with work in photography and poetry that was featured in major publications, galleries and other spaces. Hudson passed in 2009 at the age of 62 after fighting lung cancer.
The biggest lesson I take away from Ola Hudson's story is to authentically live your life as art. Not only did she inspire and create for the artists she worked with, but the general public could feed off of those frequencies at her boutique and she created an environment that inspired her son to go on and become an artist himself. I can only imagine the stories that Ola Hudson had to share.
Stay tuned all month for more #MyHistory discoveries and check out our Tumblr for visual inspo.