Although you may not know her name, you’ve definitely seen her work. Costume designer, Ola Hudson, has played a huge role in the looks of rock n roll and popular musicians. More than that, she gave birth to one of rock’s major players, Slash of Guns and Roses. This versatile woman was not only a designer but also a trained dancer (training at Lester Horton School of Modern Dance before moving overseas to study dance in France, Switzerland and England), and a model, appearing most notably in a Dewars whisky advertisement in 1971.
Hudson was a costume designer for several big names in entertainment including Ringo Starr, the Pointer Sisters, Diana Ross and Iggy Pop. In the mid-70’s, she met and began working with David Bowie. She would design all of Bowie’s suits for the character Thomas Jerome Newton for his film “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. Hudson continued working with him during his Isolar Tour, dressing him in the black pants and waistcoat ensemble that is now iconic with his “Thin White Duke” persona.
Ola Hudson designed the outfits for this Pointer Sisters' album cover
Ola Hudson designed Carly Simon's dress for her cover of Rolling Stone in 1975
A look designed by Hudson for Bowie's film "The Man Who Fell to Earth"
While Hudson spent a lot of time creating costumes for people in the entertainment industry, costuming wasn’t all she did. Hudson’s company, Ola Hudson Enterprises, Incorporated, designed for retailers including Fred Segals, Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus and Maxfield Blu. She also had a popular shop called Skitzo on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Her designs were featured in a 1974 show called, “Los Angeles Space-Age Designs: Past-Present-Future”, and she designed clothing for dancer, Linda Gold.
John Lennon wearing a coat designed by Hudson.
A sketch by Ola Hudson.
An advertisement for Hudson's store, Skitzo.
Later in her life, Hudson spent time developing some of her other artistic talents including poetry, song, dance, and photography. Ola Hudson passed away in 2009 from lung cancer but has left a legacy of creativity for future artists to explore. Slash wrote after her passing, “She really was all things artistic & creative personified & the world is a lesser place without her.”
Saul Hudson (AKA Slash) with this mother, Ola Hudson.
Did you know that some of Ola Hudson’s designs for David Bowie are on permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.