Chances are you’ll never don a Nudie suit — made famous by American tailor Nudie Cohn — but you can feel almost as stylish with a bandana inspired by the designer available at the Bakersfield Museum of Art.
Some of the colorful embellished suits made by the designer, born Nuta Kotlyarenko, that were worn by Buck Owens and other country music greats are featured in "The Bakersfield Sound: Roll Out the Red Carpet."
Part of the museum's winter exhibitions, the collection celebrates the aesthetic history of the Bakersfield Sound with guitars, photographs, album covers, artifacts and costumes, including suits and performance wear designed by Cohn and Nathan Turk.
Cohn made a name for himself creating iconic rhinestone-covered suits, known as "Nudie suits," which helped develop a performance style (rhinestone cowboy) associated not just with the Bakersfield Sound but much of mid-20th century music and film.
Along with Owens, other stylish celebrities known for their suits included Porter Wagoner, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, who died this week, and bandmate Billy Gibbons are shown performing in Nudie suits on the cover of the band's 1974 album "Fandango!"
One of the performance looks on display at the museum — a white suit resplendent with bright butterflies — inspired this project.
Local cartoonist Erwin Ledford was honored to be selected to develop the bandana.
"As someone with a long history of collaborating creatively with the staff of BMoA, and as a longtime fan of The Bakersfield Sound in general, I jumped at the opportunity when they approached me," he wrote in an email.
Ledford was immediately struck by the elaborate design of the suit.
Along with incorporating the butterflies, plants and rhinestones of the piece, Ledford said he wanted his design to have a similar clear focal point and "a composition that draws the eye upward."
Having designed T-shirts in the past that, like the bandana, were screen-printed, Ledford knew he would be limited in the number of colors he could incorporate.
"I also wanted the three inks I chose to be what I felt were the three most important hues from Cohn’s original design, with slight variation to reflect some of my own personal design sensibilities."
The design took him about 10 hours to complete, with the majority of the time spent hand-drawing each detail, which allowed him to leave his own artistic mark on the piece.
He wrote, "I think the loose imperfect lines and doodle-like quality of the drawings are recognizable as my work, in the same way that the nuances of one’s handwriting quality might be immediately recognizable."
Along with the limited-edition bandana, the museum's gift shop features unique items, including jewelry, buttons/pins, art prints, books and more in collaboration with California artists.
Sponsored by American General Media and Visit Bakersfield, the project is a fundraiser for the museum, benefiting the BMoA Fund, which supports exhibitions, education and community programs as well as the care and maintenance of the museum's permanent collection.
Ledford would love for this to lead to other special projects for the museum and creatives.
He wrote, "My hope is that the popularity of this project will open up other collaborative opportunities for artists with BMoA."
"The Bakersfield Sound: Roll Out the Red Carpet" remains on display at the museum through Aug. 28.