Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nudie suits

Behold the decadent glory of the Nudie suit!

Nudie Cohn was a Russian born tailor who made his name by designing ornately decorated Western style suits for country and western and rock singers. He escaped czarist Russia at eleven years old, started out designing knickers for showgirls, then moved to sewing one of a kind jackets in his garage. And from his garage, he built a rhinestone empire.

He made Elvis' iconic gold lame suit, Hank Williams, Sr.'s white cowboy suit, and the fabulous suit that Gram Parsons wore for a Flying Burritos Brothers' album cover, pictured above, that featured pills, pot, naked ladies and a cross. Nudie designed for everyone from Gene Autry to ZZ Top, from John Wayne to Ronald Reagan. Porter Wagoner owned nearly sixty Nudie suits. Nudie is an American institution.

Why do I love Nudie and his bedazzled suits so much? The man took his talent and passion and sewed himself a place in fashion and music history by making one of a kind artistic masterpieces. All of us who sit in our home studios (aka the living room floor at my house), putting together our own individual sparkling creations dream of the kind of success that Nudie worked for. And how can you not love a man who was born in Russia but ended up creating a suit with Conestoga wagons, shotguns and cacti, all rhinestoned within an inch of their lives? Man, I want a Nudie suit.