The man behind some of the most famous outfits in country music history is without a doubt, Nudie Cohn. An Ukrainian born, US resident who designed and made the outfits for stars that spanned well over 40 years.
The story starts when Nudie and Bobbie (wife/partner) moved to California in the early 1940’s and made the start of their beginnings working out of their garage. Bands and stars of the time started to give the young buck a chance, which was what set him well on his way. By the late 40’s and with the success they were having, it was decided that the duo would set up a shop, which found them in North Hollywood, CA.
They were first approached Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, a duo that hosted a Western comedy and variety show in the early 1950’s – they became their personal tailors for the show and eventually long standing friends. By 1957, it was the turn of Elvis Presley. Nudie put together a suit for him that eventually could be found at every record hop, devoted fans bedroom and diner across the US. It was Elvis’s $10,000 gold lame suit, pictured on the ‘50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong’ album cover.
By 1963, they had moved to their famous location on Lankershim Blvd, CA. There Nudie continued to clothe everybody who was anybody… including… John Wayne, Gene Autry, Cher, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Elton John, Robert Mitchum, Pat Buttram, Tony Curtis, Michael Landon, Glenn Campbell, Hank Snow, and Hank Williams Sr. Nudie dressed groups such as America, Chicago, ZZ Top, and the Flying Burrito Bros just for starters.
A flamboyant character himself and who evidently seemed to feel that the brand and his own persona was very much a part of what made a Nudie suit a Nudie.
Today, although western-wear vintage isn’t the in-vogue buzzword on collectors lips, Nudie pieces are sold for a pretty penny via private auctions or if you’re lucky on open sites. Nudie Cohn died in 1984 however, up until 1994 Nudies wife Bobbie, her sister Edith, daughter Barbara and granddaughter carried on his legacy until eventually the outfitters closed in 1994.