Nudie in ‘Nashville’

After all of the travelling I’ve been doing recently, I finally got a minute to sit down last week and watch Robert Altman’s brilliant seventies film ‘Nashville’ (the DVD has been sitting in my cupboard for about five years!) As is usually the case with Altman, the cast is like a Who’s Who of Hollywood stars, but for me, the real stars of the film were the costumes and styling. The second that Shelly Duvall walks on screen as L.A. Joan (you’ll probably recognise her from ‘The Shining’) she nails it. Her crazy seventies outfits contrast with her meek personality but she somehow manages to pull off every look (her sock and clumpy show combo is so Prada!)

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Another star of the film – Karen Black, who plays a country and western star – is a bombshell, all big blonde hair and Southern hospitality in her bright red dresses (from floor length sequin-trimmed gowns through to cute fringed cowgirl outfits). There were so many parallels between the styling in this film and the emerging mood in fashion which is so seventies and ‘disco’ (just look at the most recent Saint Laurent collection).

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As well as the ladies, the men in the film didn’t disappoint and Henry Gibson’s star-embroidered ‘Nudie’ suit had me transfixed.

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Nudie Cohn was the original ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ a Russian tailor who moved to the States in the thirties to pursue a dream. After years of creating rhinestone g-strings for showgirls in NY, he ended up in California and started developing his unique line of custom embellished suiting. He made suits for everyone from John Wayne to John Lennon but his coup de theatre was creating a $10,000 (what was then a huge amount of money) suit for Elvis Presley (possibly one of the flashiest suits in menswear history!)

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The Nudie suits are works of art, so much detail and work and the thing I love about them is that they are so unashamedly showy. It’s like the mens equivalent of wearing a red carpet gown – so attention-seeking (and attention-grabbing) but fun too. I’m hoping that menswear will pick up on this trend as there are so many great ways to pay homage to Nudie, whether it’s subtle embellishment or a full-on ‘look’.

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