You know his work but probably not his name. Nudie Cohn clothed many of the glittering cowboys and stars from Elvis Presley to Robert Redford.
The biography written by his granddaughter Jamie Nudie (she took his first name as her last name) starts: He was born in Kiev, Russia in 1902. He decided he would become a tailor, and became a good one at that. He was the first man to put Rhinestones on clothing. It all began in the early 1930s.
He created custom suits for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Covered Elvis in gold. And went on to cowboys (John Wayne, Gene Autry), sexy stars (Cher), venerated singers ( John Lennon, Elton John), and groups such as America, Chicago, and ZZ top.
Remember Robert Redford in the 1979 film Electric Horseman, that costume was a Nudie Cohn and is now owned by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
What’s the point of this walk down a rhinestone encrusted memory lane? There are currently two exhibits where you can see some of those glamorous creations.
One is in downhome Nashville, USA, and the other, oddly enough, is in Antwerp Belgium.
Nashville and Nudie
The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum unveiled a special spotlight exhibit dedicated to legendary clothier-to-the-stars Nudie Cohn, on October 28. Incorporating costumes and relics from Cohn’s shop, the exhibit, Silver Threads and Golden Needles: Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors, located within the Museum’s permanent exhibit, will run through November 2012.
Among the artifacts on display in Silver Threads and Golden Needles: Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors are:
Rex Allen’s shiny green suit with embroidered eagles, Indian on horseback and other Native-American motifs
Freddie Hart’s blue western shirt with heart-shaped yoke and matching pants from the early 1950s
Billy Mize’s western-cut suit and ten pairs of boots
Marty Robbins’ yellow jacket and pants with embroidered birds and flowers, and matching boots
Carl Smith’s western suit
Merle Travis’ embroidered guitar shirt with tie.
Meanwhile, across the ocean, head to Antwerp for another look at Nudie’s creations.
DREAMSUITS. Designs by Nudie Cohn, the Rodeo Tailor – featuring the collection of Bobbejaan Schoepen is an exhibition of fascinating outfits, accessories and ephemera by the legendary Nudie Cohn. Drawn from the personal collection of iconic Belgian entertainer Bobbejaan Schoepen and his wife Josée, this show is the first European exhibition to examine the work of the Ukrainian born tailor who revolutionized the clothing of Country & Western Music.
DREAMSUITS. Designs by Nudie Cohn, the rodeo tailor – Featuring the collection of Bobbejaan Schoepen runs from October 28th, 2011 till February 12th, 2012 in the MoMu Gallery. Free entrance.