Christopher Shannon, designer, on his Judy Blame accessories
GB When I asked you to choose an object of beauty was this the first thing that came into your head?
CS Yes because I’m not really a hoarder, I don’t have a lot of things and these don’t take up a lot of space. I have some Julie Verhoeven drawings that I love. I suppose I would always instantly think of things that people I know have done.
GB Does knowing Judy personally make you see these in a different way?
CS I’m not sure. I knew the jewellery before I knew him so I was already intrigued by it. When I met Judy a lot of things I’d been into fell into place, realizing his touch was there in albums and videos I liked. I saw the jewellery years ago when he was doing it for B store. I like that it makes you think ‘what the fuck?’ because it’s quite organic and messy. It appeals to the kid in me that used to like making things out of anything. It’s a very raw kind of handicraft that people don’t do any more. Everything is so touched to death.
GB Does Judy make them himself? Or does he have assistants?
CS Yeah. We shared a studio for a while and I helped him make a collection for Comme des Garcons. I remember seeing all these things laid out in the studio one day and the next afternoon I arrived at the studio and opened the door and all this smoke billowed out. Judy was still sitting there in the same position he’d been in when I left 14 hours before making all these things. I like the way all the different things he’s used mark periods of time like sediment in rocks.
GB Do they have a timeless appeal for you? Will you still love them in 20 years?
CS Oh yes, because every time I put them away and forget about them for a while I get them out and I just love the way they feel, the weight of them. Something about them just really appeals to be and I can’t quite put my finger on it but they do remind me of the first things I ever made, growing up. There’s a crudeness to them that’s really refreshing on the eye.
GB Is there a coolness factor that makes them more appealing to you?
CS I think I’m the only person I know who really likes them!
GB You’re not interested in the cultural statement they make in the fashion world?
CS I do quite like the responses they get when people wear them. They can look like quite big ugly things and I like that they’re slightly antagonistic. I like that Judy has touched so many interesting things from the late 70s up to now. I was just looking at his cover for Neneh Cherry’s album, Circus. I envy the way he can effortlessly move his head into different spaces.
GB Do you ever think about beauty in your work?
CS I think I do. In the things I do that are more personal, with my own particular view of beauty. Sometimes I’ll refer to a picture I loved when I was 12 almost without realizing it. I learned a lot in my MA about giving everything I do a validity. And looking at the work of people like Judy and Julie reminds me of that.