Manuel: Star-Spangled Couture


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Manuel: Star-Spangled Couture” Through May 22 Frist Center for the Visual Arts Manuel is, of course, best known for the over-the-top performance ensembles he has created for country music giants over the years, using styles and techniques stretching back to the great Western wear tailors of the past. His clothing also combines the embroidery techniques and floral images of his native Mexico with a healthy splash of vintage Hollywood glamour. Even his more understated pieces have a flair to them. He dressed the Man in Black, creating subtle tone-on-tone designs with the tiniest hint of sparkle. It’s a look he referenced years later in a black duster for Marty Stuart. Both can be seen in the opening rooms of “Manuel: Star-Spangled Couture,” a Frist Center exhibition showcasing Manuel’s “state jacket” series. The series pays tribute to America’s 50 states, with an embroidered suit jacket dedicated to each one, but it’s worth examining the performance wear that serves as a prelude to the collection. Among the pieces is a leather jacket for Stuart (1990) that has a quiet black-on-black design on the front and a luminously embroidered white and silver pattern across the back. There is also the appliquéd white suit Manuel created for Gram Parsons (1969) depicting some of the musician’s favorite things: pills, pot and naked women. Though it is tempting to linger in these first rooms, bedazzled by the intricately embroidered roses on the black skirt and bolero jacket for Linda Ronstadt (1987), or intrigued by the Hank Williams Jr.-inspired suits for R.E.M.’s Mike Mills (1999), the state jackets beckon. Manuel began the project in the mid-1980s as a way of thanking the country he immigrated to 30 years earlier. He began, as does the display, with a bolero jacket in white tropical wool—his preferred suit material—honoring the state of Tennessee. A WSM microphone, a 1950s-era Elvis with swiveling hips, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a locomotive engine are depicted..

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Weight 0.7899964065018067 lbs
Dimensions 8.42913384967 × 5.85039369482 × 0.72834645595 in