Lot 51: Elvis Presley Stage-Worn Jumpsuit - The "Aqua Blue Vine" Jumpsuit worn on Stage in 1973-74
29 October 2016
Memphis, TN, USALive Auction
Nothing is more synonymous with the King of Rock 'n' Roll than his famous jumpsuits. While every fan remembers Elvis' wonderfully spectacular variety of jumpsuits (nearly 100 different examples were made), few are ever made available on the open market. Only a very small number of jumpsuits exist outside the treasured Graceland Archives. The opportunity to acquire such an iconic piece of music and entertainment history is incredibly rare. The offered legendary jumpsuit, with its turquoise clustered studs, was designed by Bill Belew and Gene Doucette in 1973 for Elvis. In the typical fashion of many of his jumpsuits, it has a zippered front closure, flared sleeves, flared legs with turquoise silk inverted kick pleats, a high-pointed Napoleon collar with Velcro patches on the back to attach the matching cape, and is studded with magnificent faux turquoise stones and gold-colored studs all over. The heavy fabric material matches other examples from the period, and an important hidden element that is present is the extra underarm padding.
After designing the famous spectacular jumpsuits for which Elvis became known, Bill Belew was in high demand. Subsequently, Gene Doucette took a more active role in studding the jumpsuits with the elaborate stone and bejeweled designs. After early experiments, Bill had found that the best color choice for the fabric was white as it enabled Elvis to be lit by different colored spotlights without the suit itself absorbing the color. The high "Napoleonic" collar was meant to draw attention to Elvis' face, and the multitude of jewels and studs all over the jumpsuits would give the costume sparkle in the spotlights. The turquoise-and-gold flower style design of the offered jumpsuit is a perfect example of this design strategy, as it created a dazzling array of colorful glimmer under the lights of the Las Vegas stage and served to focus all attention on the shining star himself.
There are a great number of images of Elvis in this jumpsuit, which he wore on stage in August and September of 1973 in Las Vegas and then again a few more times in 1974, most notably during the March tour. To complement this jumpsuit, Elvis often wore the matching cape and belt, which are both part of the treasured Graceland Archives Collection. The belt presented here, and included with the jumpsuit, is a replica created later for presentation purposes.
Elvis gave the jumpsuit, among many other garments and artifacts, to the family of girlfriend Ginger Alden. The Alden family subsequently sold the jumpsuit to Jimmy Velvet, and it was offered in the Jimmy Velvet auction in Las Vegas in 1994. The jumpsuit most recently traded hands on eBay nearly 10 years ago for over $200,000.
With the vast majority of jumpsuits residing at Graceland, only a precious few become available to collectors and this opportunity comes so very infrequently. The "Aqua Blue Vine" jumpsuit is a treasure to behold and with thousands of images of Elvis performing in this very costume, it would be the pinnacle of any important Elvis collection. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.
PLEASE NOTE: Also included with the jumpsuit (and now pictured above) is a 2009 Letter of Authenticity from IC Costume designer Gene Doucette in which he states "The 'Turquoise Flower' suit AKA - 'Tuqouise Cluster' or 'Vine Cluster' now owned by (consignor's name removed) is definitely the original and in good condition - GD." The letter goes on to state that "I recognize the fabric, embroidery anhancement and workmanship as my own.”
Condition Report: The jumpsuit is in excellent condition overall, with great signs of heavy stage use, wear at the armpits, discoloration marks where the matching belt would have been worn (original belt is not being offered with the jumpsuit), and staining in the collar and armpits commensurate with heavy wear and stage use.