December 1, 2004

Nudie: The Rodeo Tailor
By Jamie Lee Nudie &Mary Lynn Cabrall
Fancy embroidered suits have been an integral part of country music since the early 1940s, and the man who practically invented "rhinestone cowboy" apparel was non other than Russian-born tailor Nuta Kotlyarenko-better known as Nudie. Anyone who has seen the famous gold lamé suit worn by Elvis Presley, the western-themed outfits donned by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, or the ridiculously extravagant getups that Porter Wagoner has clad himself in since the '50s, knows the artistry of Nudie. His vision extended to horses and even automobiles-typically white convertibles decked-out with tooled leather interiors, steer horns, silver dollars, and chrome-plated shootin' irons on every handle, lever, and switch. Reportedly, a total of 18 custom cars were created during the 47 years Nudie operated Nudie's Rodeo Tailors in North Hollywood, California-examples of which can be seen at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, Buck Owens' Crystal Palace, and the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans museum. As detailed in this 157-page documentary, Nudie was a consummate showman who used his skill with needle and thread to become a superstar of stage wear. Packed with stunning examples of Nudie's craft, this book focuses mainly on the man himself, who obviously loved the entertainment business and celebrated his notoriety by dressing in outfits every bit as spectacular as those purchased by his well-heeled customers-which included just about every major country artist, as well as many rock, funk, pop, TV, and film stars. Nudie passed away in 1984, leaving a legacy on the country scene that's probably as everlasting as the Telecaster's. Gibbs Smith.

-Art Thompson  

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