SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
We unravel a story thread on an actual item from the Bionic Woman’s wardrobe!
SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2013
The "Road To Nashville" Suit
Around the time The Bionic Woman series was being filmed, Hollywood had a few famous designers in this rhinestone chic western wear department. Probably the most prominent was a guy named Nudie Cohn, but there was also a successful designer named Nathan Turk—who owned a similar shop called "Turk of Hollywood." If you were a country music artist or a fashion designer, these were your go-to guys.
The 2-piece baby blue suit Jaime wore in the episode Road To Nashville happens to carry a Nathan Turk designer label. How do we know that? Because James Sherrard (TheBionicWomanFiles.com) currently has this in his collection. I know, read on after you’ve stopped hyperventilating.
According to Jim, there were two of these outfits made—One for Lindsay Wagner, and a matching one for stuntwoman Rita Egleston, who typically got wardrobe duplicates tailored in her size for any scenes requiring her stunts.
Jim writes that Rita remembers going to Nudie's shop to be fitted for hers. And according to Lindsay in her episode bonus commentary, the Bentley they drove onto Buck Buckley's estate was a Nudie original, too. (He was also notable for designing flashy cars.)
Jim and I have been trying to piece together the conflicting vintage costume designer names in this story. There are inconsistent reports on exactly when Nathan Turk retired due to health reasons, closed his shop and sold his sewing machines to the then-promising younger designer Manuel Cueves (who also happened to be the ex son-in-law of Nudie Cohn.) Mid-70s, 1975 and 1978 have all been cited as Turk’s official retirement from the business, so this timeline remains cloudy.
Road To Nashville was filmed in 1976. So why would a Nathan Turk designer suit be taken to his rival competitor Nudie to be tailored? We are speculating everything from necessary to meet short deadlines, to perhaps the ill-timing of pulling Jaime's suit off a wardrobe inventory rack after Turk had already retired and was no longer available to make alterations. This is just conjecture, so if anybody reading this happens to have more information, please contact me.
Today, it appears anything with an authentic Turk or Nudie vintage designer label is highly sought-after by specific collectors, sometimes even if the clothing can't boast a particular connection to a celebrity or Hollywood production. Jaime's cowgirl suit claims both… in addition to currently being the only publicly acknowledged piece of the Bionic Woman's original wardrobe to have survived the series. (If there are any others, they are well-kept secrets.)
Naturally, Oscar has ordered 24-hour armed guards to protect these valuable threads. But we can peek at it here. Thanks Jim, for taking custody and good care of this on behalf of the fans!
*Update 3/31/17. Manuel Cueves, who acquired Turk's sewing machines and went on to become known as 'The Rhinestone Rembrandt,' was featured in this NPR segment of StoryCorps. He was interviewed by his daughter Morelia, who is the granddaughter of Nudie.
Road To Nashville episode review.
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