From punks to impersonators, Elvis Presley has been the fashion inspiration for many over that last half-century.
His influence in fashion is only topped by his sweeping success in the music scene. You couldn't have one without the other, throughout the 50s, 60s and up until his untimely death, August 16, 1977.
Although Elvis has had his fashion critics, even his jumpsuit period was an inspiration for many – suits bedazzled with jewels and exotic designs; billowing, dramatic capes; and if nothing else, complete originality.
With Elvis' first stroll into the spotlight in 1954, he brought his own mix of style to the stage, all with the help of the Memphis clothier and haberdashery Lanksy's.
Bernard Lanksy, one of nine children of immigrants from Kiev, had some ups and downs with the clothing business after World War II, and his switch from an Army surplus store to a haberdashery was his key to success. Ultimately that key would turn the lock and open up a lifetime of fashion success for him and a young Mississippi transplant, Elvis Presley.
Bernard recalls a young Presley walking by and gazing into the window, admiring his workmanship.
"He looked in the window and said, 'You have some nice stuff in there'," Bernard recalls. "'When I get rich, I'll buy you out'." - www.elvis.com
Elvis never bought out Lansky's, but began saving and buying clothes from the shop. Not long after that Elvis got his big break, Lanksy's became his go-to clothier for many years.
Eventually Lanksy was clothing other stars, like Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, and his business began to boom. His handiwork was the start of a fashion craze that would lace through many musical genres and cultures throughout the next 60 years.
After Presley's deployment into the Army during the mid-60s, he was looking for a chance to get back into the musical game. His "'68 Comeback" special in December 1968 was just the jumping off point.
Not only was this "unplugged" type live-to-tape show a first in many ways for TV, it was also another moment in time that Elvis Presley made a huge fashion statement.
Clad in all black, tight-fitting leather, his ensemble hinted slightly to his early '50s fashion and ushered in his more flamboyant era.
The '70s brought in Presley's most outrageous fashion period. His unmistakable style fit right in with an era that boasted outlandish disco fashions, cross-dressing rock stars and an explosion of cutting edge vision emerging throughout the fashion world.
Jumpsuits dripping with bright-colored stones accompanied by richly detailed capes, Presley's live performance was only matched with the impressiveness of each hand-made outfit he donned.
It's unfortunate that Presley never got to see what impact his clothing choices made on the world after 1977. From his customary gold Elvis sunglasses circa 1976 to his signature '50s pomp, Elvis still lives on in the 21st century.
Wardrobe features fashion from around the world to next door. You can find more like this at twinklevanwinkle.com.
Twinkle VanWinkle ponders, creates and discovers cool stuff about music, movies, food, fashion and so forth. Her thoughtful writings and interactives give great advice about healthy food, cooking tips, DIY projects, fashion and more. She'll teach you a thing or two about music as well. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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