You may not have heard his name, but you have seen his work and the legacy he created. His name was Nudie Cohn. Nudie was the man behind the famous rhinestone suits of everyone from Elvis Presley to Ronald Reagan and Elton John.
Growing up in North Hollywood, California in the 1960’s and 1970’s meant you often saw a convertible Cadillac El Dorado decked out with silver dollar studded dashboards and pistol door handles complete with pair of huge steer horns on the front driving down the street. The man behind the wheel wearing one of his signature custom rhinestone suits and mismatched cowboy boots, bearing a huge smile for everyone he met.
Nudie Cohn was a legend in his own time. He was a self made man born in Kiev, Russia who moved to the United States and created a fashion genre. He wore those mismatched boots to remind himself of the days when he could not even afford a pair of matching shoes.
Nudie’s store was down the street from my high school. I remember going in to wander around and ooh and awe at the fabulous array of cowboy hats, boots, belts, and assorted clothing items. All one of kind and all embellished with embroidery and rhinestones in all sorts of amazing designs. He was a larger than life local hero who never grew too big for his boots. all were welcome at Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor.
Nudie was not only a local living legend, but he was known throughout the world of entertainment as the tailor to the stars. His personality was as flamboyant as his outfits. You can read more about him at The Official Nudie’s Website. His creations still continue to be collectible items commanding high prices when they come on the market.