Rhinestone Rembrandt

He's known as the Rhinestone Rembrandt. He's quick with the needle, flamboyant with embroidery and generous with rhinestones. His name is Manuel.

Based in Nashville, Manuel is the Cowboy Couturier. For years he has provided the entertainment and music industries with original suits and western wear. He's dressed industry greats like Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner and Elvis--from his time in California with tailor and designer Nudie. He's also been connected to the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and continues to dress musicians like Keith Urban, Jack White and members of The Killers.

Last year I had the opportunity to learn from this fashion legend firsthand as a Design Intern. I got to witness how a couture fashion house operated and see the entire production process, from creative inception to sale. I loved being there! I became an expert in rhinestoning (applying rhinestones one-by-one on the suits and shirts) while also getting to do some embroidery sketching and arrow stitching on the garments.

Here I am with Manuel at a trunk show in Nashville a few seasons back.
Manuel tends to find inspiration from his Mexican roots, religious iconography and from the customers themselves.
In his design and cutting room, Manuel does all of his own cutting.

Brandon Flowers of The Killers decided he wanted a gold suit like the original one worn by Elvis. He was in luck since Manuel worked on the original with Nudie. It was so much fun to be a part of the process for this amazing suit. There were thousands of rhinestones we had to apply to the collars, cuffs, etc. After our hours of hard work, all the interns modeled the suit pieces.
Wearing a shirt and belt made for Brandon Flowers, with a Manuel rhinestone tank and Manuel studded cowboy boots.

John Lennon and Manuel

Keith Urban at the CMAs

Even Conan O'Brian got a Manuel suit.

Manuel created a series of 50 jackets, each represented a state. The jackets have been on display at various museums, including Nashville's Frist Museum.
The jackets made it to the runways of NYC.

Cavalier Couture

John Galliano channelled the Three Musketeers and Cavalier fashions (1660s) for his recent Spring 2009 couture collection for Dior. The result, works of art fit for the runway.

Garden of Love, Rubens

Dior's 1940s New Look merges with the Cavalier fashions of the late 1600s in this Spring 2009 design.

Runway photos from Style.com

Art images from Wikipedia

Summer Retreat fit for a Queen

Dreaming of a summer retreat, I thought of Marie Antoinette and her cottages at Le Petit Trianon. It was a place for love, gardens and beauty.
Think soft fabrics, flowing and light.

Chloe Spring 09

Flowers bloom on the grounds of the cottage...and on these amazing dresses.
Alexander McQueen Spring 09

Alexander McQueen Spring 09

Romance at the Temple of Love...

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, from the film by Sofia Coppola.

Greek goddess meets Gold

The ancient beauty of the Greek goddess Nike blends with the rock & roll edge of Elvis' gold lame suit in the newest trend exemplified by supermodel Kate Moss at the Met Gala, as documented by the Style File Blog. The suit Elvis made famous was made by western wear designers Nudie and Manuel.

The stage is set for gold lame to take over summer fashions and resort collections.
Gold lame has never disappeared from the radar. Frontman Brandon Flowers of The Killers channelled The King of rock & roll in his remake of the famous gold suit. Manuel, who worked on the original with Nudie, made the suit for Flowers to wear at Glastonbury in 2007.

Edwardian Romance

A compilation of historical images from the late 1800s Edwardian era and modern fashions I found to be reminiscent of the time. It's so romantic and whimsical...
Finding Monet's irises in the fabric of Chloe's Fall 2008 dress.

Finding inspiration in the late 1800s Coca Cola ad for Chanel's Spring 2008 design.

Monet's lily pads seem to have found their way into the shoulder pads of Galliano's design.

The ruffling skirt from the Fall 2006 collection of Chloe suggests the dancing skirts from the Moulin Rouge in the Toulouse-Lautrec painting.

Fashion meets Art: Hussein Chalayan

Fashion clearly meets art in Hussein Chalayan's Spring 2007 collection. Technology enables dresses to transform in front of viewers' eyes while innovative design brings motion and life to the clothing.

Bringing Back the Bustle

I absolutely love the bustle silhouette from the Victorian era. Though it was from the late 1800s, it still inspires modern designers like Ralph Lauren and Alexander McQueen. I found the runway images from Style.com--it's a great site to see all the shows.