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LINDA GAMBRILL — June 26, 1947- July 8, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

When I first met Linda Gambrill she reminded me of Barbara Hulanicki — founder of the iconic clothes store BIBA and stylista behind '60s British style. Not that I even knew Barbara, mind you, but I had just read a long profile of her in Elle, and as I shook Linda's slender hand I thought, "Hmmhhh, Barbara Hulanicki."

Linda was dressed in a white shirt, sleeves rolled up; long denim skirt and on her wrists and about her neck was the crazy, funky, cool, jewellery I would come to discover was her signature. In that moment, I loved her.

Linda's life read much like a patchwork of scenes from great movies complete with drama-filled low points and breathtaking highs: as a teen she was diagnosed with lupus and given not much time to live. She sent up a big "Ha, ha!" to that dreaded promise, and went on to become an actress, run a boutique (only Linda would call her shop Boonoononos), make dolls (Beeniebud), write children's books (Croaking Johnnie and Dizzy Lizzie) and edit magazines (Lifestyle and SkyWritings).

Impressive for sure, but all that pales, I think, when set against her Jamaicanness. Linda was the definitive articulation of Jamaican style. She adored Miss Lou. She gave Sister Benedict's Christmas pudding the same props I guess one would reserve for a Jacques Torres gateau. And she was a fan of artists from Kapo to Jasmine Girvan. Without a doubt Linda saw the magic, perhaps in ways so many us should. She was a force of nature. Wild, sensitive, and funny. A little crazy — but we sure could use a little crazy now.

— Odette Dixon Neath