Elvis: Innovator and Icon of Fashion

Stunning. Just one word sums up how Elvis Presley looked, and it was more than just his chiseled facial features. His charisma and voice are what helped catapult the boy from Tupelo to super-stardom, but you can bet  his personal style is one of the things that set him apart from other acts found on stage at the time, keeping him in the spotlight and in the hearts and minds of many. He will forever be known as an icon of music, film and fashion. As New York City kicks into high gear for Fashion Week, we revisit some of the King’s signature looks, some of them found on display here at Graceland in Memphis. One of the earliest fashions that made him the talk of any town he was in while on tour was his gold outfit originally designed for his manager Colonel Parker, but later altered to fit Elvis. The influential suit featured pants and the sparkly coat, Elvis felt restricted in the pants that also shed gold flakes when moving as he did on stage. Eventually he traded the gold pants for black ones wearing just the coat that alone still caused a stir in every city. The suit was almost as famous as Elvis, a marketing ploy by Colonel Parker involved having the suit brought into a performance venue the day prior by armored vehicle, ensuring press coverage of the delivery and pre-promotion for Elvis’ concert the following day. The jacket is presently on display in Elvis’ Hawaii: Music, Movies and More exhibit at the Graceland Crossing which through February of 2016, displayed the way he wore it when making his first appearance in the Aloha State in 1957. It is virtually impossible to forget Elvis’ steamy performance in Viva Las Vegas with co-star Ann Margaret, the signature tune has become the official anthem of Sin City. As Elvis crooned this classic tune in the finale of what would be his highest grossing film ever, he was wearing a custom red shirt with zipper that is now featured in the 60 Years of Elvis Exhibit at Graceland. The swivel of Elvis’ hips while dancing was known to make his shirts come un-tucked at times, and this particular piece of wardrobe is more of a costume piece comes with straps sewn to the bottom of the shirt that buttoned into the lining of his pants, ensuring his...
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Top 10 Moments of Elvis Week 2014

By Jon Waterhouse With the whirlwind of Elvis Week 2014 now at a close, the task of putting it all into words remains a challenge. Having another opportunity to be dropped in the eye of this event’s hurricane gives me the unique perspective of what an enormous impact Elvis has and continues to have on millions. Elvis Week is the embodiment of that impact and a celebration like no other. Yet probably the most amazing result of Elvis Week is the overflowing feeling of camaraderie, generosity and love. It’s all because of Elvis. Those lines from “If I Can Dream” play out before our eyes at Elvis Week. Our respect for Elvis’s life’s work bulldozes the walls of diversity, creating a place where all of our brothers and sisters do “walk hand in hand.” At Elvis Week, I’ve seen friendships fostered from around the world. I’ve seen unselfish acts of giving in an attempt to make the world a better place. I’ve seen dreams blossom to life and amazing people triumph over tragedy. Elvis Week isn’t simply an event honoring a man and his music. It glorifies the beauty found in humanity and a person who keeps allowing us to see it more clearly. The heartfelt hard work by the staff of Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises certainly goes noticed, and it’s always an honor to work alongside such wonderful people. The passion and dedication coming out of the Elvis Radio studio and heard over the airwaves on SiriusXM is truly unrivaled. Having the chance to collaborate with that crew continues to be a career highlight for me. A sincere thanks to all who took care of business as part of Elvis Week 2014, something I’m so grateful to have been a part of. Don’t forget you can always catch daily videos from Memphis Jones and see more blogs and photos by visiting ElvisWeek.com. See you next year! TCB Elvis fans! MY ELVIS WEEK 2014 TOP 10 So what amazing memories did I chalk up at Elvis Week? The list could take up volumes, but here’s a concise round up of my Top 10. 10. Elvis Night At The Ballpark With Memphis Redbirds Gathering at AutoZone Park for an Elvis-themed ball game with approximately 10,000 fans proved amazing enough. But getting a mini dance lesson from 2013’s Ultimate ETA, Dean Z, took things over the top. Maybe a little...
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Elvis Week Day 8: Elvis Takes the Big Screen

By Jon Waterhouse Walk a mile in my shoes? Yesterday I ran three miles in my shoes for the Elvis Presley 5K. After defying my snooze button, I barely made it to the race on time. I arrived to find Elvis Presley Boulevard packed to the gills with runners ready to slap sneakers on the pavement. Before long we were all off and running down Elvis Presley Boulevard. Soon we cut down a residential street. As I fought to keep a steady pace, I looked up to see a guy running in a full Elvis jumpsuit and flowing cape. His feet were making loud, scraping sounds with each step. That’s when I noticed the dude was running in blue suede shoes. Each time he’d pass a volunteer or a police officer, he’d throw out a “Thank you, thank you very much.” Huffing and puffing along the way, he’d periodically whinny like a horse. Sweat poured from his brow and it was painful just watching him shuffle in those shoes. I said a silent prayer that he didn’t whinny himself into exhaustion. With the temperature beginning to rise, a resident graciously sprayed a garden hose into the air at the mile two marker. The welcomed mist helped me take care of business and amp it up for the final mile. Crossing the finish line, I found a volunteer draping a TCB medal around my neck. Basking in the medal’s coolness, I realized I would’ve run an entire marathon to score something so high on the awesome scale. But no medal could replicate the joy I saw as Becca and Tyke Harrison of Austin, Texas crossed the finish line. I had met the couple at Elvis Week 2013 when Becca was still recovering from a brain tumor and the resulting surgery. Last year she couldn’t walk. This year, however, she was determined to run the 5K. It all resulted in a tear-filled finish with her sign-waving cheering section waiting as she arrived. It’s moments like these that help make Elvis Week more beautiful than words can describe. While chatting with Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist finalist David Allen, who finished the race in a flat 25 minutes, I noticed that Mr. Blue Suede Shoes survived the race. The McKenzie, Tenn. resident, who’s real name is Jeff Sass, tipped back a libation and shrugged off my concerns. “It wasn’t too bad,” he said....
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Elvis Week Day 7: Remembering the King – Elvis Presley

By Jon Waterhouse We’ve heard the old adage “time flies when you’re having fun.” Yet Tom Brown, host of yesterday’s sold-out Conversations on Elvis, proved there’s a reason we’re still saying it. Elvis Week’s ace host has the ability to make three hours feel like 15 minutes. Time breezed by as he chatted with Elvis’s “Kissing Cousins” co-star Cynthia Pepper; Joe Moscheo and Terry Blackwood of The Imperials; Elvis’s conductor Joe Guercio; and Priscilla Presley. Presley’s appearance proved to be the grand finale. Although Brown joked about trying to get Presley to reprise her role on the new version of the TV series “Dallas,” she did reveal several projects she has completed and in the hopper. Fans were treated to larger-than-life images on the big screen taken from her new book “Shades of Elvis,” featuring the photographs of Christopher Ameruoso. In the book, pop culture stars from Cher and Adam Lambert to Tom Jones and Elton John are featured wearing Elvis’s actual sunglasses. For those who would’ve never imagined Priscilla singing onstage, she explained she’s doing just that in a special stage production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” this holiday season in Manchester, England. Presley plays the Wicked Queen, and she even croons a bar or two from the Elvis classic “Trouble.” Closing out Conversations on Elvis, Brown invited Joe Guercio back on stage to conduct the audience in a sing-along rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Q&A WITH CYNTHIA PEPPER Q.: How did Elvis break the ice when you two worked together? A.: Well, when I first met him he actually had roses in my dressing room. He didn’t know me, but he had asked for me to be in the picture. I thought, “Elvis has a crush on me!” But that’s not what happened. He gave all of his leading ladies roses. And it was that day I walked down the dressing room stairs, and there he was as the bottom of the stairs with the assistant director. The assistant director introduced us. He said, “Elvis this is Cynthia Pepper. She’s playing Midge Riley.” I put my hand out and he said, “Don’t give me that hand. I want a hug.” When someone does that, it just melts the ice and makes you feel comfortable. I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck, and he really was one of us. Q.: He...
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Elvis Week Day 6: Big Things Happening at Graceland

By Jon Waterhouse     BREAKING GROUND AT THE GUEST HOUSE With the Memphis sun beaming down its approval, fans, Graceland staff and dignitaries gathered for the groundbreaking of The Guest House at Graceland, a resort hotel planned to open in fall of 2016. After Jack Soden unveiled a large rendering of the property and several speakers followed, Priscilla Presley offered closing thoughts. She explained that Elvis always wanted this property, and acquiring it was a dream come true. The plan, she said, is to design it with Elvis’s taste in mind. “When we lived at Graceland, my parents would have to stay at [a nearby hotel],” she said. “Now we have a guest house [for fans].” Gripping a shovel straight from the Graceland grounds, Priscilla, along with other shovel-wielders, officially dipped their tools in the dirt, signaling the beginning a new era of the Graceland experience. Like any great celebration, surprises always spring out of the box at Elvis Week. Yesterday at the Official Insiders Event, we scored a big one. Main stage emcee Tom Brown, the Johnny Carson of Elvis Week, introduced Jack Soden, President and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises. After some pleasantries, Soden welcomed a living, breathing bonus feature to the Main Stage: Priscilla Presley. Although she’s appearing at today’s Conversations on Elvis, Presley treated fans to an extra sit-down session with Soden and Brown. The gist of the conversation steered toward all of the new enhancements and mega plans for Graceland, from the tablet tour to the auction to the Guest House at Graceland. Despite the new business configurations, both Soden and Presley assured everyone they’re both still heavily involved at the top and have the fans’ interests at heart. For more than two hours, Brown welcomed a string of guests. Highlights included an appearance by Jerry Schilling, one of Elvis’s closest friends and business associates. He recounted several stories, including meeting Elvis for the first time at a pick-up football game and what it was like living behind the gates of Graceland. Other guests followed such as representatives from Sony and Warner Bros. who talked about the new “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” DVD, Blu-ray, CD and theatrical release. The Memphis Boys members Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman and Reggie Young chatted about jamming with Elvis on iconic cuts at American Sound Studio. Guests were then given another surprise when songwriter Mark James,...
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