Nudie The Rodeo Tailor
The 2000 publication of Dolly Bull’s lavish Hillbilly Hollywood may well have inspired its successor, Nudie The Rodeo Tailor, written by granddaughter Jamie Lee Nudie and Mary Lynn Cabrall. Nudie is a bit less lavish (it has a similar die-cut cover, but is adorned by no actual rhinestones), and draws extensively from the family’s photo album.
Nudie is one of those rare figures (name another costumer, other than his apprentice, Manuel of Nashville, who is utterly absent from this account) whose craft became integral to the development — imaging, they’d call it now — of music’s visual identity. His rhinestone costumes became signifiers of country music stardom; when a rebel such as Gram Parsons went looking for a symbol with which to impress upon his hippie friends his affection for country music, he wore a Nudie suit.
The text does a serviceable (which is to say, naturally, uncritical) job summarizing the transformation of Nuta Kotlyarenko into Nudie the Rodeo Tailor, but one comes to such volumes for the photos, for the photos of clothes. For the clothes. So there are lots of photos, many of them posed snapshots rather than full-scale studio productions. Which means they may be a trifle stiffer than a portrait photographer would produce, but, again, it’s all about the clothes. And if there’s a star Nudie dressed who’s not present here, it’s probably an accident.