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 Post subject: Clothier to the King
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:09 am 
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A fairy tale by the Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen's is titled "The Emperor's New Clothes" but there are also real-life fairy tales that come true. But in this case, it is not the Emperor’s but of the "King's" new clothes.
The main players in this real fairy tale are, in fact two extraordinary people; an aspiring young artist who conquered the music world of postwar America by storm, and his Men’s outfitter: Elvis Presley "The King" and Bernard Lansky, "Clothier to the King".

Elvis was not only an icon in the music and show business, but also known for its narrow, jeweled stage suits, but also for the crazy color combinations of his wardrobe. And this style he remained faithful throughout his life.
For over three decades Elvis was "dressed" in controversy: in the 1950s through his wild outfits that were seen as an "insult" to the conservatism of the postwar period, as his extraordinary clothes, his music, his sexual attraction that among teenagers in this era unleashed a cultural revolution.

The press described these teen rebels as hellion, unruly, rude and primitive, steeped in rock 'n' roll - a threat to the conservative establishment. All this was symbolized for them by a striking personality of flesh and blood: Elvis Presley!
The main reason for this - triggered by Elvis Presley - „rebellion" was, inter alia, in the clothes he wore. His loud, eccentric outfits, as well as the long, greased hair resulted in the press and public fierce controversy because no one under-stood, why he was "different" and wanted to be.
Elvis was the first who Black and Pink wore. Someone who wore a jacket with a dress pant, light green jackets, shirts with polka dot pattern or a tuxedo jacket without a tie. If his shirts were not open to the waist, he carried them midriff and showed his waist - long before the Dandy-Revolution in the 1960s. He dazzled his Fans with bright colors, silk, lacy and ruffles.

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Relaxing at the backyard of his Audubon home

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At holiday in Hawaii 1957 - showing his waist

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He was the first rock 'n roll superstar, an idol of the silver screen and of the teens of America. In his career, Elvis Presley was dressed by an impressive list of tailors and designers.
In Memphis, it was the Lansky Brothers, who designed his first stage outfits and sew them: iridescent silk shirts, boxer jackets and tight pants with wide legs.
In Hollywood it was the flamboyant Nudie Cohn (who designed his 10,000-dollar gold
lamé suit), tailor of the "Rat Pack" Sy Devore and the winner of the Oscar in design, Edith Head, who created his wardrobe in the movies especially.
In the 70s Bill Belew and later Gene Doucette designed his stage outfit - the jumpsuits - and also one or the other outfit of his private wardrobe. With his wardrobe Elvis sophisticated and created a unique image that captured the world and that influenced Pop culture and fashion forever.

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Elvis' Measurements

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Elvis and Nudie Cohn

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The famous "Gold-Dress"

It all started 1946 in Memphis. At that time, Samuel Lansky bought a shop for $ 125 for two of his sons - Bernard and Guy - in the Beale Street 126, equipped with second-hand clothes. But this business corresponded so entirely not with his idea of what kind of product he wanted to sell. He had his own idea of what kind of goods he wanted to sell. He gave away all the goods, as he introduced them to the door of the shop and bought instead Army Apparel - T-shirts, jackets and pants - which turned out to be very lucrative. But in the early 1950s, the army surplus evaporated.

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Lansky Armee surplus shop

So Bernard Lansky was looking for a new business idea. He noted that there was a gap in the market on the famous Beale Street: namely, high fashion style.

In 1952, the Beale Street was an amusement strip on which blues singers and bands roamed. There were theaters, clubs, bars, casinos and pawnshops and cool cats, who liked to parade in loud suits and snazzy shoes, along the lines of "see and be seen“. And in between, a shop with high-quality fashion for men should arise? Everyone thought the idea of the two brothers was crazy. Hard to imagine, but the concept of Bernard Lansky worked. And Lansky’s and his window was always a big draw.
In New York and California he bought the clothes that were the newest craze there - in short: hip cat clothes - and decorated the windows of the shop. Bands, who recorded at Stax Recording Company, came into the store, and by word of mouth, the business flourished in no time. The clientele consisted mainly of the colored blues singers and musicians, but also well-known people such as Johnny Cash and Dewy Phillips, who was then the hottest radio show hosted in Memphis, namely WHBQ's "Red, Hot and Blue." And of course, Elvis.

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Dewey Philipps and Elvis at Lansky's.

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Elvis, looking if the shirt matched with his clothes.

Between 1949 and 1953, Elvis lived with his parents in the Lauderdale Courts, a quarter of social housing in the city of Memphis, specially built for low-income whites.

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1956 - Elvis in front of the Lauderdale courts with friends in typical Lansky look

One day, Bernard Lansky spied a gangly teenage boy, who his nose pressed flat on the windows and gawking at the hot “cat clothes” - the extravagantly styled shirts and pants that were preferred by young black musicians and other hipsters. “Our clothes were cutting-edge", said Lansky, in one of the many interviews, "we had the shirts with balloon sleeves, two-colored breeches with pleats and no pockets on the back, so you could show your butt on stage." Lansky left the store, greeted the young window-gazer, invited him in, offering to outfit him in some of the store’s “snazzy clothes”. Lansky: “I said to him, "Come in and I'll show you everything." Lansky led him without knowing his name. "He had his hair combed back to a" "duck tail”, it looked really cool", Lansky said. The boy said, "I like everything. It's fantastic." He showed him his empty pockets and said, "I ain’t got nothing, but when I do, when I save up some money, I’m gonna come here and buy you out.” To that, Bernard famously replied “Hey, do me a favor – don’t buy me out, just buy from me. I had no idea what his name was. As it turned out that it was the 17-year-old Elvis. Elvis working as an usher around the corner at "Loews’s Palace" in the 81 Union Street, a cinema, and in his breaks, he always came to Beale Street and in Lansky's shop to have a look around.

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Loew's Theater where Elvis workes as an usher

One day he came again in Lansky's store and bought some shirts. Then cost 2.95 or $ 3.95 a shirt.
Lansky: "He worked in the cinema I do not know how much he earned. He came every Friday and bought a shirt." And from this point on Elvis bought all his life, until his sudden death, at Lansky. He began to buy pink and black stuff and combine. Bernard Lansky: "We had everything he wanted black pants with pink shirt with a high collar and button cuffs with three wide and large cuffs."
Later, when it came time for his junior-senior prom at L.C. Humes Highschool , he commissioned the store’s tailors to make him a pink coat, black pants and a pink/black cummerbund.”He always wanted to be the belle of the ball” said Bernard.
As his first records on the Sun label made him a local hero, the kids came to Lansky in the Beale because they wanted exactly the same pink/ black stuff like Elvis wore.

Of course, with his clothes and his hair he was quite on - and by far not always positive, as his buddy Guy Farley said. “Elvis was a kind of loud dresser. He wore those loud clothes and he had that slick hair and a lot of students and even people not at Humes (High School) didn’t like him because of it. That’s just the way he was. He was about as strange to them as hippies were in the sixties.” But what others thought about him not challenged him. “He was such an individual, he didn’t conform to peer pressure” says school-friend Luther Nall.

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Elvis on the corner of Main- and Beale Street, getting a speeding ticket.

Lansky says: "One day he came in and said," Mr. Lansky "and I asked," Elvis, what do you need? "He said he had a contract," I go to New York and I have some appearances on television (with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Ed Sullivan Show), and need some clothes. Mr. Lansky, design me a wardrobe that no one will forget.” "I said," fine, no problem. ” I showed him everything, every style we had. He said, "Well, I like that, but I have a problem, I have no money." And Lansky told him “Yes, that’s a problem, but I’ll tell you what, I’m going to float you the money. Just remember me when you’re famous.” So we equipped him and gave him credit. We knew what this young man should wear on stage. We knew it would be different than what the others wore Entertainer. Therefore, we dressed him in long shirts, tight pants and ankle boots in patent leather. He also bought large shirts with rolled collar. I saw him on TV. At first I did not know what the hell he was doing, but thought " Boy, this guy is dynamite, is something special." And he was there. He was fantastic! And he was perfect for it.

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at the studio

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Ed Sullivan Show - Rehearsal

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Ed Sullivan Show , 9.of Sept. 1956

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Telegram to Elvis from Lansky brother after the Sullivan show

While Elvis and Bernard Lansky thought he looked sharp, not everyone agreed. In 1956s, the same year Elvis exploded onto the scene with performances on “The Steve Allen Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”, the Custom Tailors Guild of ‘’America published its list of the country’s “Ten Best-Dressed Men”. Not only was Elvis conspicuously left off the list. “The Memphis Press-Scimitar” quoted the chairman as saying “I think there out to be a laws – or public pressure at least – requiring Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and Ted Williams – to name just a few of our sloppier celebrities – to dress properly.”
Bernard Lansky and his brother Guy promptly fired back. They remind the paper that they not only dressed Elvis Presley, but they also outfitted Little Richard, Fats Domino and other bit name “rock ‘n’ rollers” and sent a telegram to the Custom Tailors Guild with following words:

“Please be advised in regard to a wire service release to the daily newspaper throughout the country that
ELVIS PRESLEY is NOT – in you term – “one of the worst-dressed men in the country.” We, Lansky Bros., are the sole suppliers of Elvis Presley’s clothes. We feel that we have made Elvis Presley on the merit of his clothes. Our clothes are all fair trade items by all famous national brand shops. Although Elvis may not be the most conservative dresser, he is definitely not sloppy. Ted Williams and Marlon Brando just don’t give a dern, but EP has to have every stitch down the sides of the 40 pairs of pegged slacks has to be a contrasting color. He’s changed – blues sued shoes, continental style with double-stitching and thick soles. His favorite colors were pink and black, now they’re black and white. Don’t let anybody fool you, that kid’s a sharp dresser. Some of his outfits are out of this word”.


to be continue..



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The biggest part of Elvis Presley was his big heart. It was full of love for everyone
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 Post subject: Re: Clothier to the King
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:44 am 
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For Elvis we had always something special. Something in what he looked really sharp. When we went out shopping, we always looked around for something special for Elvis. There were very few things he refused.
As soon as he entered the shop, he seized the three-part mirror. He stood before the mirror and asked, "How does it look?" and I said "really sharp, Elvis. Lansky remember: “I would treat him like a Baby. Put clothes on him, stand him in front of a mirror and I would say "Elvis, this is exactly what you want, right here. This is what I’ve got for you." And he began to laugh and bought it. He was really a great model. Real classy. He was sort of the male pedant to a prom queen. He had a penchant for sequins, velvet and everything was different and unusual. He wanted to be a person with a unique style. Regardless of how famous he was, he was the nicest guy you could meet. I still remember its dimensions: coat in size 42, waist 32, shoes 10 1/2, shirt size in the "medium" - 15 1/2 by 34 inches. Elvis was a dynamic young man who was a walking PR man for us. When Elvis attracted our stuff, it changed the whole American society. And whenever he was asked where he got his clothes, he said "I got them from Lansky's on Beale." I've never met anyone who was so crazy about clothes.
George Klein: Elvis told me that he felt Lansky Brothers was very important early in his career in supplying him with stage wear. He wanted to look different – he did not want to look country and western. He never forgot that Bernard Lansky helped him buy clothing when he did not have a lot of money.

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Elvis and Bernard Lansky during the fitting

Elvis Presley: Cat clothes are absolutely a must as far as I’m concerned. My favorite hobby is collecting these real cool outfits, and I’d almost rather wear them than eat.”

How crazy was Elvis for clothes, shows also the following story? One day, Elvis came to Bernard Lansky in the store and said, "Come with me and look what I’ve got." A rare German Messerschmitt car was parked on the street, a gift from his record label RCA. It was burgundy outside, black inside. Lansky said, "Elvis, that’s a nice one. When you get tired of it, I want it. That’s mine.” Not long after Elvis came back to Bernard Lansky and approach him. “I’ll make you a deal”, he said. “You let me pick out all the clothes I want here and you can have the car.” Bernard readily agreed, giving Elvis free run of the store. Later, Elvis recalled of the incident: “I was in there about two hours, and the store was a wreck when I left.” For Bernard Lansky, however, it was worth it. “That car was something” he says, “I still have it.”

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B. Lansky in his "newly purchased" Messerschmitt-car

Jerry Schilling:
Sam Phillips recorded Elvis.
Dewey Phillips played Elvis’ music.
And Bernard Lansky clothed Elvis. Together, they changed the world.

Some Pics of "That Lansky Look":

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Elvis waiting outside of MRS

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His black and white shoes

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1.of Dez. 1955, first official foto for RCA

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one of Elvis' coats, given to Lansky for repairing, but never picked up after.

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collarless jacket, wearing on a promotion pic of one of his movies

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Elvis w. red coat, stopping by an accident to help officers

to be continued...


Last edited by AngelEyes on Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:47 am, edited 2 times in total.


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The biggest part of Elvis Presley was his big heart. It was full of love for everyone
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 Post subject: Re: Clothier to the King
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:17 am 
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Through all these years, Bernard Lansky also is a witness in Memphis' history. He dressed all the rock 'n' roll celebrities. Stars such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, BB King, Rufus Thomas, Otis Redding. But also groups like "The Beach Boys" or "The Kingsmen" shopped at Lansky’s. Just as Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin or Chris Isaac. His original shop on the famous Beale Street harmonized on a wondrous way with the overall picture of the street: music and fashion.
If you ask Bernard Lansky what Elvis has left, he says, his great legacy (apart from his music) is its self-presentation. Lansky: He gave the artists the notion that they can do what they want to do, not to worry about what people think.” And sadly “he was a heck of a nice guy. I put him in his first suit and I put him in his last suit.”

But Lansky also has its own success story. He closed the business in the Beale Street in 1992 and leased it to Elvis Presley Enterprises, which opened there in the first floor of a club-restaurant, "Elvis Presley's" Memphis, "which in its menu card also Elvis' favorite dishes had.

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Menue card

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Elvis Presley's memphis restaurant

1981 Lansky opened three more stores in the legendary, newly opened "The Peabody" hotel, three blocks away from his first shop. On the wall you can read "Clothes That Rock".

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The Peabody Hotel

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Bernard with one of Elvis' Guitars, one of Elvis' gifts.

Early November 2009, was honored for his achievements by Bernard Lansky, Memphis City Council, renamed by a piece of Beale Street, located between Main and Second Street, Bernard Lansky Street.

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In August 2011, Lansky received another honor, namely a historical landmark on Beale Street.

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But Elvis also is immortalized at Beale Street. The larger than life-size statue of Elvis recalls the gangling young man who has never really grew up, whom was honest and sincere, but also has retained a certain innocence.

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This unusual friendship between the two men was terminated only by Elvis's death. Bernard Lansky honored his friend with this full-page ad in the "Memphis Commercial Appeal", whose words even today - 35 years after his death - have validity. Not only Bernard Lansky, but also for his fans.

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Bernard Lansky died on 15 November 2012 at the age of 85 years.

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Elvis Presley: Mr. Lansky, you design me a wardrobe that will never be forgotten someone.

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Foto credit and sources: Lansky com.



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 Post subject: Re: Clothier to the King
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:27 pm 
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:hello: WOW! A Awesome Fantastic Piece Angel Eyes, I had to Laugh when I seen the Picture of Elvis getting a Speeding Ticket. :lol: I Bet Elvis Kept the Police in Memphis with A Lot of Tickets, because Elvis never did know where the Brake Pedal was! :love:



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Without you I am nothing an could never be so bold. The times we've shared, the laughter and the tears. Priceless memories, treasures all. How could I ever fail? With you I don't fear that at all. Elvis Presley!
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 Post subject: Re: Clothier to the King
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:28 am 
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:hello: Hi Barb, thanks for your feedback.
If it's interesting for you, then I am satisfied. It's always good thing to get a feedback, just for knowing I could deliever again some interesting facts. - That's all what I want. :love:

Indeed, I think it was not the only speeding ticket that Elvis got. :D



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 Post subject: Re: Clothier to the King
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:17 pm 
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:hello: I can always tell in one of Elvis' Movies if he is driving a car, he well have his arm resting on the window seal going has fast has he can, :D :love:



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Without you I am nothing an could never be so bold. The times we've shared, the laughter and the tears. Priceless memories, treasures all. How could I ever fail? With you I don't fear that at all. Elvis Presley!
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 Post subject: Re: Clothier to the King
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:19 am 
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You are doing such a great work, AngelEyes, bringing together such exhaustive information on Elvis steps for many of the places of his lifetime experience...!

THANK YOU SO MUCH! :)



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