NASHVILLE, Tenn., November 1, 2011 - 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.
Silver Threads and Golden Needles: Nudie's Rodeo Tailors traces the tailor's journey across America, from designing burlesque costumes in New York to opening his legendary shop in North Hollywood. Cohn created ornamented masterpieces for A-list performers including Gene Autry, Elton John, Gram Parsons, Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers, Hank Williams and many others. For decades, his rhinestone-studded, colorful western wear helped shape the images of some of country music's biggest stars.
Born Nutya Kotlyrenko in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1902, Cohn immigrated to the U.S. when he was 11. U.S. immigration officials mistranslated his first name, and he became Nudie. His first job was shining shoes in Brooklyn. In 1918, Nudie headed west to California. He worked as a movie extra and a film cutter before going east again. On his way back, he met Bobbie Kruger, his future wife, in Mankato, Minnesota. The couple moved to New York, and Nudie found work designing burlesque costumes with his brother.
In 1940, the Cohns once again headed to the west coast, where they ran a small tailoring shop out of their Los Angeles-area garage for seven years. Nudie's big break came in 1947 when Tex Williams commissioned ten outfits for his band. With Williams' endorsement generating business, Cohn was able to open his famous Nudie's Rodeo Tailors at 5015 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood. Even though his slogan was "Everything for the Horse and Rider," Cohn began to cater to stars of western movies and to country musicians like Autry, Rogers, and Hank Williams.
Cohn's first venture in sparkle-and-shine came when he designed a rhinestone-accented suit for Lefty Frizzell. Cohn found his niche and began creating custom outfits for performers. Some were representative of the client's name or signature song. He designed wagon-wheel suits for Porter Wagoner, Native-American motifs for Ray Price-the Cherokee Cowboy-and a railroad-themed suit for Hank Snow inspired by Snow's 1950-51 hit "The Golden Rocket."
With the help of embroidery specialist Rose Clements and fashion designer and one-time son-in-law Manuel, Nudie added instruments, cars, rugs and other items to his repertoire and designed for rock stars like Elvis Presley and Gram Parsons. Cohn's gregarious personality and famous friends made him a celebrity in his own right. He was even featured on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1969.
Nudie died of kidney failure in 1984, but his style and pizzazz live on and continue to influence fashion in the country music world-and beyond. Among the artifacts on display in Silver Threads and Golden Needles: Nudie's Rodeo Tailors are:
Spotlight exhibits are narratives that supplement themes or aspects of the Museum's core exhibition, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music. These short-term, informal displays either provide a closer look at a particular person, group or aspect of country music, or spotlight recently donated items or special anniversaries. Rotated often, spotlight exhibits also offer a glimpse into the Museum's unique collection, which includes recorded discs, historical photographs, films and videotapes; thousands of posters, books, songbooks, periodicals and sheet music; personal artifacts such as performers' instruments, costumes and accessories; and more.
Other current spotlight exhibits focus on the Academy of Country Music Awards, Bobby Braddock, Reba McEntire, Bill Monroe, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Jean Shepard, Carrie Underwood, Porter Wagoner and Hank Williams Jr.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum's mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum's Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B, and Hatch Show Print®.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.