Friday, 9 April 2010

Fashion's Most Wanted - Princess Julia

Photography by Lele Salveri

Princess Julia
DJ, Writer, Nightclub Legend, Gay Icon

Born in Hackney in 1960 Princess Julia was one of the original Blitz Kids "30 crucial nightclubbers who set the style for a decade" and changed British clubbing forever.  Part of the elitist group who went to Steve Strange and Rusty Egan's infamous Blitz Club and introduced a new flamboyant, glamorous and individual style that created many bands and fashion designers and finally took over from Punk.  

Photography by Derek Ridgers
Julia at The Blitz Club, 1979

Photograph © Homer Sykes

Marilyn, Julia and Boy George at The Blitz, 1979

After doing many jobs in nightclubs, Julia became a DJ starting her career at legendary nights at The Wag - Stephen Linard's Total Fashion Victims - The Daisy Chain and sought after residencies at Kinky Gerlinky and Queer Nation before becoming hugely in demand worldwide.  As well as DJing in clubs and on the radio Julia has been a model, record producer and remixer, performer and appeared in films, documentaries and pop videos. Julia continues to DJ at clubs all over the world, runs her own music fanzine P.i.X with Hanna Hanra, writes a weekly column with Mark Moore for QX International and is the Music Editor of i-D magazine.

"Princess Julia has the face of a goddess"
Boy George

Princess Julia has been out every night for the past 34 years
"The beloved mother of London's underground, Princess Julia has moved seamlessly through every important scene since punk, witnessing every high and low.  Julia is a DJ of a rather uplifting nature who knows just how to entertain a dance floor with her fun, unselfconscious sets.  She is also the co-editor of her own music fanzine, The P.i.X, an innovative monthly freesheet that folds out into a poster.  But Julia's role in the demimonde is much broader than all this.  Fantastically good company, she constantly encourages and nurtures those who wish to follow her very individual example, maintaining a curiosity for new talent and for those who aspire to be something other than the norm.

Photography by Holly Warburton

Julia is an extraordinary raconteur who knows how to wield a loaded pause to devastating effect, and she has recently taken to the stage and started spoken-word performances.  In fact, her life story is so hysterical that there is talk of it being made into a musical.  A classic of her own design, Julia is never seen without a fully made up face."

From a feature by Tim Blanks for The Gentlewoman, Spring 2010

Photography by William Baker

Princess Julia Interview

I went round to Princess Julia's flat in Hackney for tea.  She answered the door looking immaculate with her glossy bobbed hair and perfect make-up.  She was wearing an Edwardian style cream blouse with lace and crochet sleeves, a high collar with tiny gold buttons done up to the neck, a chocolate brown fitted waistcoat, cream tights (not many people can pull off cream tights, but Julia can!) and thirties style brown silk shorts.  I bought her a bouquet of big cream roses which matched her outfit perfectly.  We chatted for ages before we finally got down to the interview and were laughing so much I could barely hear what we were saying on the tape!

Julia, Steve Strange and Melissa Caplan

You lived in some famous squats at the beginning of the Eighties
I lived in the Warren Street squat and the Great Titchfield Street squat.

Who else lived there?
In Warren Street there was David Holah from Body Map, Lee Sheldrick, Kim Bowen, Stephen Jones, Leslie Chilks, Myra Falconer and whoever was around at the time.  Jeremy Healy was going out with Kim Bowen so he lived there.  It was huge.  Lots of people came and went over a period of a few years - Stephen Linard, Chris Sullivan, Patrick Lilley and (Boy) George.  Name a person from the Eighties and they probably lived there!

Clubbing changed so much due to your generation, specifically The Blitz and the clubs that followed, The Wag, Taboo, Mud Club etc.  I started going out in 1984 and I would have loved to go to The Blitz but I was too young
You would remember that there was a certain group going out in London then and clubbing was a lifestyle.  It was all discos and smaller clubs, apart from Camden Palace and Heaven which seemed absolutely huge at the time.  Enormous!

With regard to House, I first became aware of Jenny and Danny Ramping in about 1986, they had a little club in Kensington just before Shoom.  It was basically disco music with some bedroom technology and loads of samples were being used.  Lots of records from New York and Detroit, all the electronica and techno was coming through.  Jeffrey (Hinton) and I would hear something a go "that's a loop from that cheesy disco record!." Then there was all this music from Belgium and Germany, Kraut rock, things like Nitzer Ebb.  I went to see Nitzer Ebb the other week, it was great!  You'd go to a club and hear all different types of music.  I went to see Larry Levan at Paradise Garage, then it was picked up by the straight scene.

You must have such an eclectic record collection with all the scenes you've been through?
I always think there's a thread running through all the music, it's all interwoven rather than individual scenes.  I'm the sort of person who likes going to all sorts of different things and experiencing everything I can.  In the Nineties, because I was happy to travel I got booked all over, the club scene became such a global phenomena and the whole DJing mallarkey opened up, you could actually make a living from being a DJ and it was treated as a proper job at last.

Julia and Sue Tilley at Kinky Gerlinky

The rave scene was very dressed down, how did you find that?
Yes rave was very dressed down but there were still quite few dressed up things in the Nineties but they were a lot more label conscious and there was money around.  People would wear their labels on the outside.  It was all about having the tag showing.  I had some money in those days, I'd DJ at Queen in Paris and go and spend my wages in the Alaia shop.  I bought quite a few pieces.

There was this whole thing about getting the latest mixes first, getting them straight off the press.  It all got a bit trainspottery, lots of chin rubbing and discussing the sample for hours.  This was before everything changed about using samples.  Then the laws changed with the Criminal Justice bill so the raves went back underground.

Rave and the Summer of Love opened up clubland. It became quite generic for a while because of the nature of the drugs people were taking and there were a lot more football lads coming out.  I thought there was some kind of conspiracy where the government alllowed so much of that sort of drug into the country to take the edge off and make people happier, so many people were on it and it was so easy to get then.

I love my job and the opportunities to travel and experiences it has given me.

Photography by Holly Warburton


How do you describe your style?
Trad with the rad.  My look has always been a variation on a theme.

Who are your style icons?
Luciana Martinez and Gerlinde Costiff.  I like anyone who makes an effort really.  I love Joan Collins for old-school style, Barbara Cartland, Bette Davis, April Ashley - I love all those stately older ladies. Basically anyone who doesn't go out of the house without make-up.

Portrait by Luciana Martinez
Luciana and Julia

Gerlinde Kostiff

I could be walking down the road and see someone looking fabulous, it could be a granny all powdered up and pompadoured or a beautiful looking girl.  I always go up and tell them they look great.  They're my style icons as well.

Which persons wardrobe would you most like to own?
Ooh!  I'd like to raid Joan Crawford's, I bet she'd have some good archive! perhaps some of Imelda Marcos's shoes.  Any old vintage wardrobe, although my wardrobe is probably the same as theirs!

Joan Crawford, 1936

Do you have any health tips?
I do yoga on a regular basis and it balances me out mentally and physically.  I've been doing that for years, I've always done some sort of exercise.  If I want to wear the clothes I like to wear I feel I have to maintain a shape that looks vaguely good in them.  I've been larger but I didn't really feel comfortable in my skin, I'm just that type really whatever size I am.  I find I feel somewhat uncomfortable, perhaps it's my generation, or just me!  I think people are more modern nowadays regardless of what shape they are they seem more at ease and proud.  I love the way that people like my friend Angel Rose styles herself, she looks fabulous.  There's another girl Felicity Hayward who always looks amazing.  It's the way they put themselves together.

Modelling for Stephen Jones, 1980

What's your beauty routine?
I try to scrape off the visage before going to bed generally, although sometimes it just doesn't come off.  I use Shu Ueumura cleansing oil and lots of moisturiser.  Just general maintenance, nails and stuff.

Is there anything about your body you dislike?
Not really but everyone thinks there's something wrong (grabs a non existent bit of thigh).  You have to keep on top of it like dealing with ageing process.  It's all about learning to accept the differences.

Who does your hair?
I've had a few people over the years.  Donald McInnes used to do my hair.  He's just done a TV programme about The Blitz that'll be interesting.  He does Siouxsie Sioux's hair, if I can nab him I'll get him to give me a really good haircut.  More recently, Richard Mortimer who's fabulous with a bit of colour and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for all the marvellous hair colours he's managed to slap on.  I commend him for his daring!  Do you know Julia who works at Tommy Guns? she's cut it really well and another friend who's fantastic called Louis Byrne, he sometimes works at this place up in Clerkenwell called The Regal.  Oh and I must mention Vogiro Vogue who last week gave me a splendid colour.

What's your current favourite outfit?
Oh I do have favourites.  I got this waistcoat I'm wearing in the Vintage For Sale clearout.

How was that?  I meant to go.  You filled a bag with as much as you could get in it for £20
Yeah it was great!  A really mad scrum.  Fantastic!  Ooh favourite outfits... and I do have a few.  Sometimes what I do is pull out something that's been lying dormant at the back of the wardrobe for a few years.  I found these fantastic Peggy Moffitt pants a friend gave me, Comme des Garcons remade them.  They're like a big knicker with a strap that comes up around the front.  I'll wear a top underneath them, they're great.  And I like these tops (Julia points her top), I've got about a million of these type of things, I'd call it a blouse.

Photography by Mario Testino

What's the oldest thing in your wardrobe?
Well I've got a black Forties style dress from the Seventies that I've managed to hang onto all these years.  I bought it back in 1974.  I've had some very old Victorian things, I've had all sorts of vintage pieces.  I'll give stuff away if I think someone will like it.  Nearly everything I have is a vintage something.  I tend to mix old things with newer pieces.

Who are your favourite designers?
I love Roksanda Ilincic, her stuff is great.  I like Alaia, he's brilliant at what he does.  Out of the British designers I like Giles.  I think he's amazing actually and I love going to his shows.  What he does is fantastic, quite astounding some of it.  And Galliano.  I'll go to my friends shows and see what's going on.  I'll go to Fashion East and see what's happening there.  Pam (Hogg) is great.  I went to Mandi's press day and saw Gareth's new stuff which was really interesting.

What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
I've got this Alaia snakeskin jacket... very Tina Turner.  That must be worth a few bob.  It gets an airing every now and again.

What's your best bargain?
Recently it's got to be the £20 bag down at Vinnie For Sale.  Enough outfits to last me for three months!

What are your favourite shoes?
I like Minna Parikka, her shoes are really beautiful, you can get them at Tatty Devine.  I like traditional shoes.  I'm a bit funny really.  I don't mind a fashion clomp.  If I know they're all the rage I'll probably like them when they're out of fashion.

What are your favourite sunglasses?
I love sunglasses but can never really find any.  I'd like something plain, a bit like my normal reading glasses which are vintage, like 1950's cats eyes.  I found them in a Milan flea market.

What would you save if your house was on fire?
Oooh!  I'd try and save that painting (points to a Luciana Martinez portrait of herself on the wall and another large painting, a present from her good friend John Maybury).  I'd try and save the art.  I've got what's here and a load that's still in the framers.  It's been in there about two years!  The one down by the Joiners Arms.  I can recommend them.  They've just taken their time!  If I had some money that's what I'd do, buy lots of art.  I love it.

Detail of Julia's John Maybury painting

What's in your bag right now?
Oh God!  Let's have a look.  A beauty parlour price list. (We discuss the fact Julia has no lines).  A bus pass, a nice little mirror from Maiden, some headache pills, eyeliner, Illamasca mascara, face powder - this one's Boot's No. 7 - I go through so much I'll use any brand, a memory stick and a camera.  Oh and a Mac lippy.  Their make-up is quite astoundingly brilliant.  I need more of it.

What keeps you awake at night?
Ideas going through my head.

Who or what have been the greatest influences on your life?
I find that everything around me is constantly inspiring.  The people that I meet, creative people and the things they do.  Creative people I can bounce ideas off.  Everyone I meet to be honest!

Which famous person is your all time crush?
Oh dear... I used to think Captain Scarlett was hot!  A plastic puppet, ridiculous! (cracks up laughing).  A bloody puppet!  A bit tragic isn't it?  A sort of marionette animation!

What are your eating habits like?
Well I know you're meant to have it, but I'm not a great breakfast eater.  I eat a lot of fresh food if I can but sometimes when you're travelling it's hard.  I try to avoid wheat but I don't think I've actually got a wheat allergy.  I try not to eat too much stodge.  I eat a lot of steamed vegetables and I love potatoes, done any way.  I generally don't cook meat at home but I'm not a vegetarian.  If I go out to St. John I'll have something gamey, I love the food there.  Elaine Chalmers at Dalston Superstore, she does a marvellous wheat-free chocolate cake.

If you had one last meal what would it be?
Oh probably Elaine's wheat free chocolate cake, but not to start with. it would have to be some sort of potato!  Anything based around a potato.

I like fish too, somewhere like Sheekey's.  And traditional food.  Scott's do a nice dinner.  Oh and I do like a cheese board and a Welsh rarebit.  I like spicy food too.  I'll eat anything really, I'm quite a pig.  I was brought up on spicy food as my father was Hungarian. That's why I like travelling, I like to try all the different food.

What are your favourite restaurants?
I love St. John in Clerkenwell, I love Margot's food at Rochelle Canteen.  Bistrotheque - I had Christmas dinner there and it was fan-tastic!  Their chef Tom Collins is great.  That was the most delightful meal I've had in ages.  A lovely soup followed by a Little Gem salad with big pieces of Roquefort, it was delicious, sensational.  Having said that I'm quite happy with a fried egg sandwich at a greasy spoon!


What are your secret London addresses?
Paper Dress, the vintage shop on Curtain Road in Shoreditch.

What would you have on your tombstone?
Oooh!  What did Bette Davis have on hers?  I'd have "I'm taking my time."

What's your worst fear?
Growing old, gracefully or disgracefully.

What's your philosophy?
Try everything once, twice if you like it.

Which animal would you most like to be?
Probably a cat more than a dog, they have a nice life.

What are your guilty pleasures?
(I tell Julia what some other people have said and Coronation Street comes up)
Oh no!  I don't feel guilty about having a love for Coronation Street.  I think the writing is brilliant.  I don't really have any guilty pleasures I don't think.

What are your favourite books?
I'm an avid reader.  I've always got something on the go.  I read all the time.  I've got an amazing flatmate, Dorian Cox and he's got loads of books so I'm reading through all the classics again.  A lot of stories.

Which magazines do you read?
I read i-D, QX International to keep abreast of the latest things going on in clubland.  Acne's a good one.  Super Collider, my friends science magazine.  I love science. That's probably one of my guilty pleasures.  I'm a science fan which some people think is really funny.  I went to see the last Star Trek movie at the Imax and it was great.  Amazing!

Cover shoot for i-D magazine, 1997

What are your favourite albums?
Oh my God!  There's so many.  Ziggy Stardust would definitely be one, Megatron Man by Patrick Coeley, the new Fall album is really interesting.  Of new things coming up I like O Children, although I haven't heard the whole album yet.  You know what I do like... the two boys from the Horrors, Tom and Rhys, going by the name of Spider and the Flies, that's great.  I like a bit of experimental stuff, I recently saw Martin Tomlinson's (from Selfish Cunt) project Aeaea which was astounding!

There are so many seminal albums I love; Marianne Faithfull, Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, Disco stuff - Divine, Dee Dee Jackson, Amanda Lear, Lime.  Hits of the New Romantic era, The Normal, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Kraftwerk, Glam - Bowie, Roxy Music, Eno, DAF etc. etc. etc!!!

What are your favourite TV shows?
I watch a catch up of the old Coronation Street which is just amazing.  And I do like a science programme, Brian Cox the new guy - I'm really enjoying his show.  I like a costume drama and I watch lots of films.

What were the last good films you watched?
I really enjoyed a film called Nighthawks. It was on a the BFI.  I went to the premiere of it and it was very of it's time but I saw it more recently and it was fantastic.  Set in London, it's about a gay teacher who goes out on the cruise in Earls Court in the Seventies, pre-AIDS.  The soundtrack's amazing.  It's filmed in clubs like Heaven, it's very much a time piece.  At the George and Dragon where my friend Dee Fodor runs a film night, I showed the Charlie Atlas film Hail the New Puritan about dancer Michael Clark and everyone loved it.  You can't get it anywhere.  Mark Moore taped it off the TV so it's got the ad breaks in it but it really doesn't matter.

Michael Clark in Hail the New Puritan

Who are your favourite photographers?
Wolfgang Tillmans, Lele Salveri is really good.  I like a lot of the people who've taken pictures of me - Benjamin Alexander Huseby, he was so great to work with, I loved him!  It was a really funny day, he was fantastic.  I like the old seventies stylised ones - Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin.  And I do like Cecil Beaton, I'd have loved to have my photo taken by him.  Richard Avedon - especially the ones he did of Dovima - amazing.  And I like taking pictures myself, I mostly do bands.  It's just another medium really.

Photography by Richard Avedon

Who are your favourite models?
I liked Domina and Verushka.  Do you think people are more beautiful nowadays?  They seem to be, unless it was just that they were so tucked away they couldn't be discovered.  All these beautiful, willowy girls, trolloping around in little villages behind the Iron Curtain!  I go for a look really more than a girl as a model has to be a blank canvas.   I like strange looking girls.  Karen Elson is really fabulous and some of the original supermodels, it's great they're still modelling.

Photography by Nick Knight
Karen Elson

What makes you laugh?

What makes you cry?
Sometimes I think about friends that aren't around anymore, I'll miss them and I'll cry.  Trojan, I loved him and was only 21 when he died.  Leigh Bowery, Mark Lawrence the DJ at Taboo, he was fantastic.  It makes me sad they're no longer here.

Photography by David Gwinnutt
Trojan and Leigh Bowery

Mark Lawrence

Who are your heroes?
Some of those people who aren't around were my heroes.  Someone who'll come up with an idea and goes for it, that's a hero to me.

What's your biggest indulgence?
I do love a cut flower.  If I could have cut flowers everywhere I would.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Clara Bow if she was alive, or perhaps Joan Collins.  And June Brown as the older me!  I took June Brown out one night to a rent boys party.  Everyone thought she was my Mum.  What a lady!

Who would you have at your dream dinner party, living or dead?
All my mates really.  If I have to name a few people it would be; John Maybury, Nigel Coates, Jeffrey Hinton, Marc Almond, (Boy) George, Trojan, Siouxsie Sioux - she's always great to have out, my lovely sister Erica, Dee Fodor, Alan Macdonald, June Brown of course!  She's so camp, Rhys from the Horrors, he'd be good and he'd love to meet all those people.

Julia and John Maybury, 1981

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and who would be with you?
I live in the moment.  I'm very happy just being here with you, having a laugh.

Very Special thanks to
Princess Julia
Danilo from Blitz Kids
Tim Blanks
The Gentlewoman

Special thanks to the following photographers
Benjamin Alexander Huseby
David Gwinnutt
Holly Warburton
Lele Salveri
Mario Testino
Nick Knight
Richard Avedon

The Gentlewoman, Spring 2010

Photography by Benjamin Alexander Huseby

Visage - Fade to Grey, 1981

Princess Julia and Crispin J. Glover - This is not a love song

Princess Julia's Birthday pictures are on the next post xx


Wildernesschic said...

What a beautiful and interesting woman .. I bet you had a wonderful time interviewing her. xx

Smashingbird said...

Fab interview, really interesting. She is such a beautiful woman, I love that her fave album is Ziggy Stardust!

Christina Lindsay said...

Thank you. She's amazing. It was great going through all her pictures xx

Daniel-Halifax said...

WOW! Such a great interview, my dear! I can't believe all the people you know....Princess Julia, Siouxsie, Giles etc: ALL people I've admired for eons!!!

Jill said...

Great post. I was not familiar with her. What an interesting life she has led...makes mine so dull in comparison. And if I only had her makeup skills!

Anonymous said...

A striking beauty and an amazing article.


HOBAC said...

The woman behind the legend. She really should be part of the Blackglama campaign. Fabulous!

Daniel-Halifax said...

Please the pass the word on to Princess Julia, that after reading this interview I finally watched Nighthawks and LOVED it! Thankfully in the States is relatively easy to get!

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear All, thank you so much for your great comments. Isn't she fabulous? I love her.

I love her version of This Is Not a Love Song too.

Daniel, I have passed that on, she was delighted that you loved it! xx

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear All, thank you so much for your great comments. Isn't she fabulous? I love her.

I love her version of This Is Not a Love Song too.

Daniel, I have passed that on, she was delighted that you loved it! xx

The Brick Lane Spy said...

What a great piece... It's so well written and totally spellbinding as per usual! Oh and great images by the way! ,)