The Original Rhinestone Cowgirl

Bobbie Nudie

Bobbie Nudie had a simple motto: “It is always better to be looked over, than to be overlooked.” Her real name was Helen Cohn, but she lived the “Bobbie” creed. She and her husband, Nudie Cohn, created the trademark that redefined the image of the Western superstar. While Nudie sewed the glittery, flashy, gorgeous outfits—the first to sew rhinestones onto clothing for the sparkle—Bobbie ran the business side of their fast-growing and successful business.

All of America saw their work in the $10,000 gold lame suit on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1957 worn by Elvis Presley. The New York Times later reported they profited $9,950 for that suit, meaning the material was about $50 and all the rest was their vision! After Elvis, everyone wanted a “Nudie”–Hank and Roy and Johnny and Tex and Buck and Clint. Women, too. Dale and Cher among them.

The original label was a naked cowgirl wearing only a hat, boots and holster. But in 1963, Nudie converted from Judaism to Christianity and put clothes on his logo—that’s how the clothes are now dated, with the nude cowgirl the most valuable.

When Nudie Cohn died in 1984, Dale Evans gave his eulogy. Bobbie followed him in death in 2006 and was true to her image to the end. Her obituary in the New York Times showed her at 92 in a floor length beaded skirt, a bandanna around her neck, a rifle in her hand and her walker at the ready. In announcing her death, The Times called her “the purveyor of glitter.” She would have loved that!

 

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