Nudie Cohn : biography
Nudie Cohn (December 15, 1902 – May 9, 1984) was a Ukraine-born American tailor who designed decorative rhinestone-covered suits, known popularly as "Nudie Suits", and other elaborate outfits for some of the most famous celebrities of his era. He also became famous for his outrageous customized automobiles.
Death and legacy
Nudie Cohn died in 1984 at the age of 81. Numerous celebrities and long-time customers attended his funeral. The eulogy was delivered by Dale Evans. Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors remained open for an additional ten years under the ownership of Nudie’s widow Bobbie and granddaughter Jamie, and closed in 1994.
Cohn’s creations, particularly those with celebrity provenance, remain popular with Country/Western and show business collectors, and continue to command high prices when they come on the market. In December 2009, for example, a white Nudie stage shirt owned by Roy Rogers, decorated with blue tassels and red musical notes, sold for $16,250 at a Christie’s auction.Lot 14, Sale 2276 (December 3, 2009). Retrieved 2010-09-28.
Relocating to California in the early 1940s, Nudie and Bobbie began designing and manufacturing clothing in their garage. In 1947 Cohn persuaded a young, struggling country singer named Tex Williams to buy him a sewing machine with the proceeds of an auctioned horse. In exchange, Cohn made clothing for Williams. As their creations gained a following, the Cohns opened "Nudie’s of Hollywood" on the corner of Victory and Vineland in North Hollywood, dealing exclusively in western wear, a style very much in fashion at the time. Nudie’s designs brought the already-flamboyant style to a new level of ostentation with the liberal use of rhinestones and themed images in chain stitch embroidery. One of his early designs, in 1962, for singer Porter Wagoner, was a peach-colored suit featuring rhinestones, a covered wagon on the back, and wagon wheels on the legs. He offered the suit to Wagoner for free, confident that the popular performer (like Tex Williams) would serve as a billboard for his clothing line. His confidence once again proved justified and the business grew rapidly. In 1963 the Cohns relocated to a larger North Hollywood facility, renamed "Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors", on Lankershim Boulevard.
Many of Cohn’s designs became signature looks for their owners. Among his most famous creations was Elvis Presley’s $10,000 gold lamé suit,Beard, Tyler (2001). 100 Years of Western Wear, p. 72. Gibbs Smith, Salt Lake City. ISBN 0-87905-591-X. worn by the singer on the cover of his 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong album. He designed the iconic costume worn by Robert Redford in the 1979 film Electric Horseman, which is now owned and exhibited by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.Oklahoma City Museum Exhibits “Electric Horseman” Suit. Retrieved 2010-09-28. He created Hank Williams’ white cowboy suit with musical notations on the sleeves, and Gram Parsons’ infamous suit for the cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ 1969 album The Gilded Palace of Sin, featuring pills, poppies, marijuana leaves, naked women, and a huge cross. Many of the film costumes worn by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were Nudie designs. John Lennon was a customer, as were John Wayne, Gene Autry, George Jones, Cher, Ronald Reagan, Elton John, Robert Mitchum, Pat Buttram, Tony Curtis, Michael Landon, Glenn Campbell, Hank Snow, and numerous musical groups, notably America and Chicago. The members of ZZ Top sported "Nudie Suits" on the cover photo of their 1975 album Fandango! In 2006 Porter Wagoner said he had accumulated 52 Nudie Suits, costing between $11,000 and $18,000 each, since receiving his first free outfit in 1962. The European entertainer Bobbejaan Schoepen was a client and personal friend; his collection of 35 complete stage outfits is the largest in Europe.http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/cowboy-couture-nudie-cohn-at-momu/ Cowboy Couture l Nudie Cohn at Mode Museum New York Times by Nancy Macdonell – October 26, 2011.DREAMSUITS. The Wonderful World of Nudie Cohn – Mairi MacKenzie. Publisher Lannoo, 2011.