If you know one thing or two about royalty, you know her. Let’s put it this way: Princess Julia knows anyone who is anyone in London fashion, and she has inspired most of them with her extraordinary, unmistakable look - one that involves flawless makeup, bouffant hair, and glitter heels paired with socks, any time of day. Not only is she the longest surviving female club kid around, she’s the “first lady of fashion” of the scene.
A living legend of London’s nightlife, Julia Fodor first showed her face socially in 1978 at a Bowie night that was held on Tuesdays at Billy’s in Dean Street. She didn’t waste any time getting acquainted with the club’s main characters, which included the likes of Boy George, Marilyn, Jeremy Healy, Sade Adu, Siobhan Fahey, Midge Ure, Martin Degville and, of course, the promoter of the event Steve Strange – all of them soon-to-be iconic queer pop stars.
Princess Julia has moved seamlessly through every important scene since punk, witnessing all the highs and lows and bringing her signature style of classic Hollywood glamour and cutting-edge fashion to London’s underground club culture. She’s been out every night for the past 44 years, and now in her early 60s, Julia's refusal to stop wearing exactly what she wants, when she wants is a subtly subversive statement - one that is inspirational for the next generation of new romantics and modern bohemians.
These days, Julia is a DJ who knows just how to pack out a dance floor with her fun, unselfconscious sets.
In this interview, Princess Julia gets poetic about moments of everyday pleasure and the ways that scent reanimates her memories and awakens her senses.
Name: Princess Julia
Solar Sign: Aries
Occupation: DJ, Artist, Writer & Fashion Icon
What does the word or concept of freedom mean to you? When do you feel most free?
In an ideal world we’d all be able to lead a carefree and utopian existence, but human society demands we obey social constraints. Who makes up the rules in 2022? Governments, religions, big pharma, the meat and dairy industry, the list goes on… Freedom is more of a state of mind, a mood. I feel free when I’m painting, listening to music, and dancing. I feel free when an injustice has been righted, when I’m able to communicate in an authentic way and everybody is able to be their own true selves.
"Wherever you are right now is the perfect place. Grab all the moments. Enjoy! Life really is short."
Identity, confidence and self-expression are inherently interlinked. How have these words or their meaning shaped the person that you are today?
Always be curious, ask questions. Be in the re-education loop. Get on the learning curve. Look at things from different perspectives. Don’t settle for the easiest option. Walk a mile in a stranger’s shoes. Admit you’re wrong. Go forward with fresh insight. Reboot yourself. Live in the present. Question everything. It’s okay to be sad, to feel turmoil and pain – it means you’re alive. Empathy. I’m not confident, I have self doubt like everyone else. Just have a go anyway. Step outside your comfort zone without regret.
Your favourite place is... (it could be a location, city…)
Wherever you are right now is the perfect place. I don’t hanker for a favourite place. The place or places in the moment become a series of memorable situations. Grab all the moments. Savour the past but don’t live there. Enjoy all the good moments because life really is short. A simple pleasure, a breezy walk by the sea. A hedonistic night at a rave! The most exquisite meal with friends you treasure. The drama of a fashion show! A night at the theatre. I love all these things and more.
Is there any specific poem, book, song or artwork that you come back to? (why and how does it make you feel?)
I am always peering at artworks, reading stuff and listening to music.
Do you have a favourite smell?
I’m keen on Tuberose. Smells are so evocative. They can take you back to times gone by. To danger and intrigue, sex and drama. The smell of a person. The aroma of nature. I like things with a twist, a surprising scent that enlivens your senses. An unexpected combination of under and overtones. That’s the artistry of a perfumer, a craft I have always been fascinated by.
What do smells mean for you? Do you have any special sensorial memories? (a memory that comes up when you smell something, it could be a moment, a memory, a place, a person…)
Smells are everything. An aroma can conjure up all sorts of memories - people, places, things. When I think of a perfume, I think of wistful and romantic situations. A waft of a flower can send you into ecstasy. Or a signature scent evoking a person's presence that always reminds you of them. Scented rooms that create ambiance by enhancing and elevating a mood. Scent has the ability to heal, calm and excite!
"Smells are everything, an aroma can conjure up all sorts of memories. People, places and things. Scent has the ability to heal, calm and excite!"
Julia, you’re widely known as the "first lady of London's fashion scene” and you also had your experiences in modelling. How does your passion for fashion intertwine with your musical activity? Do you see the correlation between what you wear and what you create? Has it changed over the years?
Yes I’ve been called that but actually my passion and curiosity for dressing is a continuing obsession. I don’t really work much in the fashion world but because of my fascination with style I’m sometimes cited for my style kudos! Whatever your career, I think turning out a look is something to be joyfully explored. Obviously, with my interests, my attempts at turning a lewk don’t go unnoticed and with social media there’s never been a better time to show off the latest style combinations! Djing, which is primarily an aural experience, involves impactful visual and sensory elements within a club situation. It’s the space you’re DJing in, the community who come, the hosts, dancers, bar staff, performers and talent that make a night special. I like creating a mood and that involves everybody. I always feel like I’m part of a team. We want to create a memory you’ll always talk about. Over the years I’ve found different ways of wearing things. Broken some rules, made up new combinations. I’ve dipped into my archives and revisited pieces that give me pleasure. Likewise I embrace new designers and their enlightened fashion conversations.
Photo: Fran Gomez de Villaboa