Jul27

This may be an appropriate time to confess my affinity for the… ahem “unique”. Okay, I confess I can be downright fucking tacky. When others wince and shake their heads in dismay, I often find myself aglow with admiration. So, it should come as no surprise that Nudie Cohn’s body of work gives me great joy. I won’t get into his history other than to say he was a living juxtaposition being a Ukrainian-born Jewish cowboy. If you’d like his full history The New York Times did a full story you can check out here.

 

My question is could this 5’7″ master of the unapologetically ornate be the originator of todays hip-hop bling? There’s no doubt he was a tailor and car crafter to Hollywood and Nashville elite, having worked with stars: John Wayne, Gene Autry, George Jones, Elvis, Cher, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Elton John, Robert Mitchum, Pat Buttram, Tony Curtis, Michael Landon, Glenn Campbell, Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams Sr., and groups such as, America, Chicago, ZZ top, and the Flying Burrito Bros. Newer generation stars- Dwight Yoakam, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Perry Farrell, Jeff Tweedy, and other A-list Rockers of today keep the Nudie flame burning, and even inspired a few of them to create their own line of signature clothing.  Most recently, his work can be seen on the new Kid Rock album cover “Born Free.” An impressive list by any measure, but I think a far-more impressive accomplishment was his ability to leave a footprint that transcended generations, race, and culture. OK, admittedly today’s rappers aren’t wearing wagon-wheel and cactus appliqued suits (yet). But one look at Gram Parson’s aptly named “Gilded Palace of Sin” suit’s flagrant drug subject matter, and Nudie’s prolific use of money, gold and jewelry at every turn, shows today’s moguls to be imitators to the concept. Aware or not.




Gram Parson’s infamous “Gilded Palace of Sin” complete with Marijuana leaf front, naked lady lapels and pills down each sleeve. (yes, you can say kick-ass even if you’re at work)


Can you look at Nudie’s leather, silver and gun clad Cadillacs (and Pontiacs) and not see the original West Coast Customs? These were the original pimped out rides that stars who wanted to be noticed were dropping rolls of hard cash on. I can honestly imagine spinning 45’s on the rims… ah, if only I had a time machine!

I think you guys get the point, and perhaps moreover can now see how clever adaptation can bring any look to a relevant and timely place. We all know fashion is cyclical and, for now anyway, vintage is in. I, for one, love it and hope everyone can find a way to incorporate something from the ghost of bad ass’ past into their current aesthetic. I’ll leave you all with a few more pics of the awesomeness that is Nudie Cohn.

 

-The Chiclet Bandit


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