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Rockins Heroes Part 5: Gram Parsons
“Out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels”
In 1969, The Flying Burrito Band released The Gilded Palace of Sin. The cover artwork features a desert landscape of twisted branches with two elegantly dressed girls standing in the door of a wooden hut. Yet these two glamorous figures are overshadowed by a longhaired man in a white suit; founding member of the band Gram Parsons. This flared suit was adorned with floral embroidery and marijuana leaf motifs; a flamboyant image at odds with the stark surroundings.
This suit was to become the defining image of Parsons, an eclectic character in all senses of the word. Designed by legendary Nashville tailor Nudie Cohn, this two-piece suit was heavily embroidered with various hippy motifs including poppies, prescription pills, marijuana leaves and a large cross to the reverse. Nudie had made his name creating custom Rhinestone cowboy suits, including Elvis Presley’s $10,000 gold lame ensemble and Robert Redford’s costume in the Electric Horseman.
Like his suit, Parsons’ fused Southern sex appeal with bohemian androgyny. He played in The Byrds, visited Stonehenge with The Rolling Stones, lived in France with Keith Richards and duetted with Emmylou Harris, constantly trading music and style influences with his friends.
Parsons did not identify solely with this country genre that critics seemed so keen to label him. His music fused country, folk, rock and rhythm and blues influences, resulting in a sound and aesthetic that is hard to pinpoint to this day. While his fellow artists asserted themselves with signature styles that defined the era, Parsons’ combined a melee of sartorial influences that mirrored his scrapbook of musical tastes.
“It’s funny when you look back at how he was wearing these outlandish scarves and doing this mild cross-dressing thing. Here we were playing these redneck country bars where people just wanted to kill us.” (Chris Hillman, bassist in The Flying Burrito Band).
The famous Nudie suit featured hidden details beyond the exterior. The signature ‘n’ mark of a Nudie original was found underneath one lapel, while the other hid the embroidered image of a voluptuous, naked woman. Perhaps a hint at the hedonistic tendencies that lay beneath Parsons’ mysterious allure and resulted in his untimely death in 1973.
At the core of the Rockins repertoire is the Roses skinny scarf, inspired by the great Parsons and his inimitable style. Crafted from 100% Crepe de Chine silk, we have brought to life the Nudie floral print: rock it like Gram, and wrap it around the neck or slung across the hips.