The late, and simply fabulous, Ola Hudson remained relatively unknown to the wider public but the brilliant designer and bona fide creative received mad respect from the pop entertainment circuit & the community of genuine creativity.
The fierce artiste was born Ola Oliver in 1946. As a young adult her vibrant energy manifested itself through dance. Mrs. Hudson studied with the Lester Horton School of Modern Dance and with Bella Lewitzsky and Linda Gold in Los Angeles. Her talent and ambition landed her in the prestigious Institute of Dance in Paris, Switzerland’s Le Loft, and The Max Rivers School in London. It was here where she settled down for a spell, marrying fellow free-spirit Anthony Hudson. Hudson was one of the lucky ones. During a time when album covers were true works of art, his was displayed on many including that of Joni Mitchell, David Bowie & Neil Young. In July of 1965, the pair welcomed their first child into the world. They named him Saul Hudson, the rest of the world calls him Slash.
Not much is publicized about Ola’s return to LA, but all signs point to a turbulent marriage to her alcohol addicted spouse and a desire to embark on a career as a costume designer. She left Saul with his father in the UK for a time as she established her career in Hollywood, but the family reunited in the City of Angels about a year after her return. Mrs. Hudson wasted no time in making a name for herself as a premiere costumier to the stars. Her lengthy clientele list included Diana Ross, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, the Pointer Sisters, Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson and David Bowie. As a matter of fact, Ola Hudson designed the suits worn by Bowie in the 1976 film, The Man Who Fell To Earth plus a collection of her work designed for the British pop star is on permanent display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. On an amusing tip, the two dated for a time, which resulted in a young Slash catching ole Ziggy and his mom in a compromising position on one occasion. Mrs. Hudson was a major player in the industry, designing fashion collections for Henri Bendels in New York, Fred Segals and Max Field Blu in Los Angeles, Right Bank Clothing in Beverly Hills, Neiman Marcus and was the creator of Skitzo, an authentic boutique situated on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.
In 1972, The Hudson’s welcomed a second son into the world, Albion. The pair raised their boys in the “neo-hippie environs” of Laurel Canyon. Although Ola & Anthony’s marriage endured, it was filled with periods of separation, which naturally had an impact on their two boys. She always insisted that despite it all, their unit was a loving one. On her eldest, Slash, she told Rolling Stones, “He was drawing from the time he could pick up a pencil,” adding that he was weaned on her Led Zeppelin albums and raised in a very loving household. “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. 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.”
Ola’s mother was also influential in providing an amorous space for her boys and has been credited for Slash’s success by nurturing his creative energy and providing the future rocker with first guitar. It’s reported that Ola did her best to balance the demands family and show biz life. She allegedly made several attempts to include her sons in her creative and social endeavors where they rubbed shoulders with a number of industry artists.
Her authentic inventiveness was unrelenting – as if art and existence were one in the same. In her later years Ola continued to perform original poetry, song & dance and honed her skills as a visual designer and photographer. Her most recent work titled I Stand, was published in Voices Magazine, as well as a piece called Testimony – inspired by the tragedy in New Orleans. Her photography has been featured in Fred Segal, West Hollywood. Mrs. Hudson was a dedicated member of the Board of Directors at Westside Regional Center for the Handicapped. And recently, was nominated by Santa Monica College as a Distinguished Alumni for Creative Consultation, Choreography and Costume Design for the College.*
After a long battle with cancer, Mrs. Hudson passed in 2009 at the age of 62. A life cut too short, it was inspiring, bold, fabulous and full of adventure. Speaking of his mom, Slash once said, “She turned me onto all different forms of art and the importance of artistic self-expression and creative communication thru music and dance from as early on as I can remember.”