Manuel: Nashville's Couture Cowboy

Manuel Cuevas
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For the last several decades, in Nashville and across the world, Manuel is simply known by his single first name (pronounced man-well).

Early Life

Manuel was born, Manuel Arturo José Cuevas Martinez, on April 23rd, 1938 in Michoacán, Mexico, and was the fifth of eleven children of Esperanza and José Guadalupe Cuevas.

Manuel's was taught to sew at the age of seven, by his older brother and tailor, Adolfo. He has made his own clothes ever since. During this time Manuel mastered a wide scope of the clothier's art, including leatherworking, hat making, silver working and boot making.

Manuel then attended the University of Guadalajara majoring in psychology before leaving his native Mexico for Los Angeles in the mid-1950s.

Starting a Career in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, Manuel he took on several low wage jobs and eventually landed a job with master embroiderer, Viola Grae. Manuel was working for Viola Grae when he met Nudie and Manuel joined Nudie as his head tailor at Nudie's Rodeo Tailors in the early 1960's.

Manuel worked alongside Nudie for fourteen years. While at Nudie's shop, he quickly became the head designer and primary creator for many of Nudie's clientele, he also became Nude's son-in-law when he married Nudie's daughter Barbara.

After Manuel and Barbara divorced, Manuel left Nudie's employ and opened up his own business in North Hollywood in the mid-1970's.

Soon after opening his shop, Manuel purchased a dozen or so machines from the infamous designer, Nathan Turk. Turk had just closed up his business, Turk of Hollywood, due to health reasons. In a generous gesture, Turk never cashed Manuel's check for those machines. Manuel has always admired Nathan Turk and has given credit to Turk for some of his inspirations. Manuel, himself has also been known to be generous in giving a few of his creations away to some of the newer up-coming country musicians who otherwise would do without.

Manuel had found an unlimited outlet for his creativity working alongside great designers such as Viola Grae, master embroiderer, Nudie Cohn, the famous cowboy clothier, and Sy Devore, Hollywood Tailor to the Stars.

He found inspirations from such great clothiers as Rodeo Ben, Nathan Turk, and Nudie Kohn, all of which were immigrants to the USA, as he himself was, and all found fame in the world as clothiers as he had.

Models wearing Manuel during 'Rhinestones and Roses' A Tribute to Clothing Designer Manuel
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Setting up Shop in Nashville

In the late 1980's, Manuel moved to Nashville, Tennessee nearer to where many of his clientele, most of which were in the Country Music Industry, and opened his business, Manuel's Exclusive Clothier's.

His creations are truly a work of art and can be found in museums nationwide, including Metropolitan, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and even the Smithsonian. Locally, in Nashville, you can find his works on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and if you're just lucky enough to know Manuel's close friend, Marty Stuart, his closet is rumored to hold over 3000 pieces of Country Cowboy Couture that include masterpieces from Turk, Nudie and, of course, Manuel.

In 2013, Manuel moved Manuel's Exclusive Clothier shop from 1922 Broadway and has continued to craft western couture garments at his newest location, 800 Broadway.

Most of Manuel's custom-made outfits, all of which are sold as custom-made with Manuel's direct involvement, will normally sell from $5,000 to $7,500, yet some can cost $20,000 or more. A buyer can also opt to buy from Manuel's' ready to wear line, Manuel Limited Collection is offered a lower cost across the country at only the finest of Western Wear Stores.

Manuel is an artist in the truest sense of the word, so make sure to stop by his shop and visit this Nashville Treasure on your next visit to Music City USA. You will recognize him by his big smile, signature scarf, charming and personable nature… he will also be the one charming all of the women within sight.​

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