North Hollywood was once the capital of West Coast twang couture, back when Ukrainian immigrant Nudie Cohn and his head designer, Manuel Cuevas, were making their outlandishly embroidered stage costumes for everyone from Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline to Gram Parsons. Some of us California country rock aficionados probably best remember the embroidered marijuana leaves on the Nudie suit worn by gorgeous Gram on the cover of the Burrito Brothers’ “Guilded Palace of Sin” album. I’d almost forgotten about this stylin’ chapter in L.A. history until Billy and I took in the traveling “Sparkle & Twang” exhibit of country memorabilia at the Gene Autry Museum. Curated by singer and uber-fan Marty Stuart, it featured Nudie suits galore, and artifacts from Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and many more.
Among them was a letter hand-written by Patsy Cline to Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors in 1963, when it was still at its original location at Victory and Vanowen. It contained her own drawing of a stage costume she wanted Nudie to make, along with her measurements and lots of details. Tragically, she died in a plane crash a few weeks after the letter was sent.
Here’s another pic from the exhibit’s many highlights. If this show comes to a city you’re in, don’t miss it.