Whether you love fashion, pop culture, or rock and roll, Ola Hudson is probably a name you came across.
The African American fashion designer is truly underappreciated. She’s not just the mother of Guns N’ Roses’ Slash, nor is she simply the ex-partner of David Bowie. Instead, Ola Hudson is an iconic fashion and costume designer who permanently altered the fashion scene.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything about the iconic designer and how despite few people knowing her name, her legacy lives on. Let’s dive in!
Ola Hudson’s Early Life
Ola Hudson was born in Los Angeles, California on October 12, 1946. While Ola is popular for her spectacular designs, she actually studied dance.
First, Hudson attended the Lester Horton School of Modern Dance. Then, she traveled to Europe, where she studied at The Institute of Dance in Paris, Le Loft in Switzerland, and the Max Rivers School in London.
During her time in London, she met album designer Anthony Hudson, whom she married.
Ola Hudson’s Family
Ola J. Hudson comes from an African-American heritage. There’s little information available on her parents and siblings. Still, the fashion designer raised incredibly successful children and had her fair share of famous relationships.
When Hudson was studying Dance in London, she came across Anthony Hudson. He was an album cover artist who created covers for superstars such as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.
Ola was pretty young, having met Hudson when she was only 18. However, the couple fell madly in love and got married the same year.
Ola and Anthony’s relationship was turbulent. A couple of years later, she left her family and moved back to Los Angeles, her hometown.
A year later, Anthony reconciled with Ola. Then, her husband and children moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the designer as well as support her career.
That said, things didn’t seem to change that much. Ola and Anthony still fought a lot, frequently separating, and then getting back together. Finally, they separated for good in 1974.
Following the separation, Ola Hudson became involved with none other than David Bowie!
First, Hudson and Bowie had a platonic friendship. They shared a deep love for art and culture, with Ola designing many of Bowie’s iconic looks.
The relationship quickly turned into a romantic one. That said, the public knew nothing about it, and the timeline of the relationship remains mysterious.
It wasn’t until Ola’s son, Slash, brought up the romance in interviews. He recalls that David Bowie was constantly around their house when they were growing up.
You’d think a young aspiring musician would be thrilled about meeting David Bowie. Yet, that wasn’t the case.
Since this was Hudson’s first relationship after her divorce, her children weren’t that excited. Still, as Slash grew older, he understood his mother’s feelings and came to appreciate the genius of Bowie and his mother’s artistic influence.
If you don’t know Ola Hudson from her astonishing career as a designer, you probably know her as Saul Hudson’s mother. Saul Hudson, also known as Slash, is a musician, most popular for being the lead guitarist for the legendary Guns N’ Roses.
Hudson also had another son in 1972, Ash Hudson. While Slash was destined to be a rock star, Ash followed in his mother’s footsteps. He’s a photographer and fashion designer who popularized hip-hop-inspired streetwear.
Ola Hudson’s Career
Though Ola Hudson was a professionally trained dancer, she also had a great intuition when it came to fashion.
When she moved to Los Angeles after her separation, Ola opened a boutique, Skitzo, on Sunset Strip. Then, everyone was mesmerized by her one-of-a-kind designs.
Then, Hudson went on to make costumes for musicians and Hollywood celebrities. Her minimalist, retro designs were seen on The Pointer Sisters, Carly Simone, John Lennon, and of course, David Bowie.
In particular, Hudson’s designs for Bowie are still iconic to this day, especially in The Man Who Fell To Earth.
There’s no denying that David Bowie would still be a household name due to his talent. However, it’s Ola Hudson’s costumes, as seen on Bowie, that lives in everyone’s mind.
This includes the iconic, well-fitting, black pants and waistcoat that Bowie wore on his Thin White Duke tour. This minimalistic ensemble continues to inspire costume designers to this day.
The legendary costume designer truly changed Bowie’s visual identity into the glam, avant-garde style that we all know and love.
After a battle with lung cancer, Ola Hudson passed away in 2009. Her designs live on in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Ola Hudson is a woman who made her mark on both the fashion and rock and roll world from a young age. Without her, neither David Bowie nor Guns N’ Roses would be the same!
While Hudson studied dance, she became a fashion designer at only 25, leaving her family behind to follow her dreams.
Her designs were marked by their minimalism, but it was the exceptional tailoring that set them apart. Most notably, she designed David Bowie’s costumes for The Man Who Fell To Earth.