A couple of weeks ago we offered you the opportunity to mail us your questions for Julie Mundy, author of the new book "Elvis Fashion - From memphis To Vegas". In the interview below you can not only find out whether your question made the list and Julie's answer on your question, but also get a good impression of this new and interesting book.
Questions on the person Julie Mundy:
EN: Can you tell us something more about the woman behind the name we all know from the books?
JM: I was born in 1969, just a few months before Elvis conquered Vegas. I’m mad on Elvis, rock ‘n’ roll and the great crooners such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. I love all music - gospel, pop, country etc. - but hate Blues, it bores me to tears (apart from Elvis’ renditions of course). I live just outside London and work from home.
EN: Or as a visitors wanted to know, is your tattoo for real?
JM: Yes, It’s on my right shoulder and I forget it’s there most of the time, so I am surprised that people remember. It’s a good example of misspent youth.
EN: And to get a feel for your Elvis-preferences, what is in general your favorite Elvis-stuff? Can you name your favorite Elvis-song, -movie and –album and of course tell us why you selected these titles as your favorites?
JM: These always change, but I’ve always been mad on the movie “Loving You” because Elvis looks stunning and it’s my favourite movie wardrobe. “That’s The Way It Is” will always be a huge favourite for obvious reasons. In music, I love “Treat Me Nice”, which is a great jiver and from the ’70s it would be “Help Me Make It Through The Night”. As for albums, anything on the Follow That Dream label is played obsessively especially the “Nashville Marathon” and the “Memphis Sessions”, which I almost wore out.
EN: Why did you quit running the Official British Fan Club Magazine after only a short while?
JM: It felt like long enough to me! It wasn’t what I wanted to do in the Elvis world and I became very disillusioned.
Questions on the author Julie Mundy:
EN: Can you tell us how you got into writing and how you ended up writing about Elvis?
JM: I always wanted to write and I wrote my first full-length book (still unpublished!) in my teens. Although my career took other directions, I was determined to work as a writer some day and a couple of opportunities arose while I was working for the fan club, which also prompted my departure. I have now published four books and have worked on magazines, for publishers and on part-works and I love it. You have to focus on subjects that you are passionate about, otherwise it would be hard to stay motivated. I was very determined to see Elvis Fashion published, but it was a lengthy process, the whole project took over two and a half years to reach fruition.
EN: Which other authors who wrote books on Elvis do you admire, and what is it exactly you admire in the author(s) or book(s)?
JM: I love “Down At The End Of Lonely Street” by Pat H. Broeske and Peter Brown. They also wrote another favourite book of mine on Howard Hughes and I like the way they present their work objectively. I love Joe Tunzi’s books and any Rjiff/Cajiao collaborations. I think Peter Guaralnick is a great Elvis researcher and writer and the Estate is very keen on his work. Away from Elvis, my favourite biographer is Nick Toshes.
Questions on Elvis’ Fashion:
EN: Can you tell us how and when you got the idea for the book?
JM: After seeing books like Audrey Style and Jackie Style (on Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy) I was surprised that the same treatment had not been given to a star as huge as Elvis. Then I saw a book entitled Hillbilly Hollywood by Debby Bull, which looked at the clothes worn by early country singing stars. When I saw the stunning close up details, showing every stitch and the wonderful embroidery, I knew that Elvis’ clothes needed the same attention. Also, many fans do not get the chance to visit Graceland and see the clothes on display, so it’s written for those fans too.
EN: You were given access to the Elvis archives, any surprises?
JM: After watching every single Elvis movie end to end and sketching every costume he wore in them (400+), it was a real shame to find that Graceland only had a few of these items and not many left from the 1950s either. However, none of us would hold onto clothes for over twenty years so it’s not too much of a shock that Elvis never kept these items. There were lots of personal garments designed by Bill Belew, far more than I imagined there would be, and I really fell in love with his designs.
EN: One reader recalls no jumpsuit type stage or street clothes until after EP began to wear them, was that the start of that trend? I also recall huge leather watchbands becoming popular after the 68 special.
JM: Well the Glam Rock styles did seem to appear after Elvis had made his own impact in the jumpsuit, and then you saw everyone from David Bowie to Mark Bolan, Dolly Parton, the Osmonds and Abba in similar outfits. Famous outfits such as the gold lamé suit, the black leather suit from the ’68 Special and the white jumpsuit have become rock ‘n’ roll symbols. Decades after his death you can put these clothes on any entertainer (even huge stars such as Bono or Britney Spears or Robbie Williams) but the image will always belong to Elvis.
EN: What do you think Elvis would wear today?
JM: That’s a very good question, but Elvis was so unpredictable. The way that he didn’t conform in his looks, music or clothes was part of his impact but I think he did follow fashion, albeit with his own style. You can’t see examples of the Hippie movement or the Hendrix style Peacock Revolution in his wardrobe but you can see how Elvis’ clothes evolved with the fashion over three decades, such as the cut on his trousers moving from pegged to drainpipes and then flares for example. I am sure that today he would still be impeccably tailored, maybe with his own brand - who knows.
Other artists from the same era seem to dress totally in black these days, where the norm seems to be a black suit worn over a black shirt (or a t-shirt which is even worse). They look more like Goodfellas than rock ‘n’ roll stars, so I’m sure that Elvis would still have the edge over his rivals.
EN: What, that Elvis wore, was probably the most important in fashion of the time and for today?
JM: Whether you like it or not, I think it’s his stage wear - the white jumpsuit. Personally, I love the designs, the only problem is that the media seem to think that Elvis fans all walk around wearing them. What you have to remember is that any wannabe Elvis impersonator, even if he’s the ugliest looking fella that can’t sing a note, can put on a white jumpsuit and you immediately think of Elvis. That suit symbolises a lot.
EN: Did you find any 'casual' Elvis clothes, jeans, T-shirts etc or was he always impeccably dressed?
JM: Well, as most fans are aware Elvis didn’t like to wear denim because he considered such items to be work clothes and it reminded him of his poor upbringing. In artwork, Elvis has often been depicted in fictional situations such as kissing Marilyn Monroe or sharing a drink with Humphrey Bogart and is frequently dressed in denim in these scenarios, the image obviously came from his portrayal of Deke Rivers, because he was rarely seen in denim off camera.
However, there are a few denim items in the archives from the later years. In the book we have some denim and rhinestone suits in a patchwork design, which is typical of the seventies and almost identical to the suit worn by the character Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) in the film Boogie Nights, but jeans had been reinvented as leisurewear by then. Also, on the subject of movies, if you watch the comedy Undercover Brother, the lead costumes could have been taken straight out of Elvis’ wardrobe.
EN: What is the oddest piece of