Ola Hudson (1947-2009), whether you know her name or not, has played a pretty big role in rock and roll and popular music as a whole. Not only did she create iconic costumes for the likes of David Bowie and Diana Ross, but she birthed a major player in rock music — Slash of Guns N’ Roses. She also sold her designs to plenty of chic people over the years, and was a beauty who was able to go from sewing clothing behind the scenes to starring in popular ads in front of the camera (shout out to Dewars whiskey). Check out five things you should know about accomplished designer Ola Hudson.
She Worked With a Who’s Who of Stars
We already told you about Bowie and Diana Ross — that should be enough to let you know that Ola was immensely talented and appreciated in the industry. But if you need some more big names, she also put together pieces for Ringo Starr, John Lennon, the Pointer Sisters and Iggy Pop. Some of her most famous looks were the tailored outfits she made for David Bowie’s film, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and his ensembles during the Thin White Duke period.
She Is the Mother of Rocker Slash
With her ex-husband, Ola had two sons: Saul and Albion Hudson. Saul Hudson would grow up to be popular Guns N’ Roses musician Slash. Because he’s considered “out there” by some, many have wondered what kind of childhood the rocker had. According to Ola, it was anything but wild.
“I’ve been shocked at a lot of things I’ve read where it sounds like I left him on somebody’s doorstep in a basket,” she once said in an interview about her son. “They make it seem as if he never had a family and grew up on the streets like an urchin, but that’s not true. It’s just part of his image. He’s not all leather and tattoos.”
Because she was an artist, Slash said that his mother encouraged his love of music in a profound way.
“She was responsible for exposing me to a lot of the music that would influence me as a musician growing up,” he wrote on his blog after she passed in 2009 from lung cancer. “She turned me on to all different forms of art & the importance of artistic self expression & creative communication thru music & dance from as early on as I can remember. She really was all things artistic & creative personified & the world is a lesser place without her.”
She Dated David Bowie
Aside from making some sharp clothes for the singer and actor, Ola dated David Bowie when her marriage to artist Anthony Hudson ended. Anthony was the father of both Albion and the man we call Slash. In an interview with Rolling Stone from 1990, Slash said that he initially didn’t like Bowie as a way to take a stand for his father. Still, he said Bowie was around often and with Ola for a while.
“I really didn’t like him that much, because he was the new guy in the house,” he said. “I was really resentful.”
She Didn’t Just Design for Rockers
While creating fly costumes for stars helped Ola make a name for herself in the entertainment industry, she also designed for major retailers over the years. She put together collections for Henri Bendel in New York, Right Bank Clothing and Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, and Maxfield Blu in Los Angeles. Ola also put together a shop on the Sunset Strip called Skitzo that was quite popular. There, she sold dresses that were heavily influenced by her travels and time in Europe, particularly in London.
She Was a Talented Dancer and Photographer Too
In her early years, Ola actually studied dance and was very good at it. Her moves were enough to land a spot at major institutions all across Europe, including the Institute of Dance in Paris, The Max Rivers School in London and the Le Loft in Switzerland. When she studied in London, she met Anthony, fell in love, and her goals in dance took a back seat to other ambitions. But later in life, she got back to dancing, as well as doing poetry other performances. Ola also cultivated her talents as a photographer and was able to have her work featured in major publications and spaces over the years. She was talented in more ways than one.