Mairi Mackenzie

Job Title:

Research Fellow, School of Design





Dream Suits: The Wonderful World of Nudie Cohn
curated by Mairi Mackenzie

Dream Suits: The Wonderful World of Nudie Cohn


Mairi Mackenzie

Mairi MacKenzie is Research Fellow in Fashion and Textiles at Glasgow School of Art. She is a fashion historian, writer and curator, and her research seeks to understand not just what was worn and by whom, but why it was worn and what the relationship is between the clothes that we wear and our culture. In particular she is concerned with the connections between fashion, popular culture and music.

The subject of Mairi’s most recent research project was Nudie Cohn, the Rodeo Tailor. At one time a designer of highly embellished g-strings for New York burlesque artists, Nudie moved to Hollywood in 1947 and developed a look that has become visual shorthand for a particular strain of country music style, that of the ‘rhinestone cowboy’. His fantastical, intricately embroidered and heavily ornamented outfits were worn by almost every country musician of note between the late 1940s and the early 1980s, as well as those from the worlds of film, rodeo and rock & roll. This research was centred upon a collection of Nudie clothing owned by the Belgian singer-songwriter, actor and theme park owner, Bobbejaan Schoepen and culminated in an exhibition of Nudie’s designs at the Mode Museum in Antwerp and a book entitled, Dream Suits: The Wonderful World of Nudie Cohn (Lannoo 2011). Her research in this field continues as she investigates Nudie’s cultural legacy, in particular the influence his designs and those who wore them have upon contemporary designers, musicians and artists. She is also author of Isms: Understanding Fashion (A & C Black 2009).

Mairi is a visiting lecturer at Glasgow University and was lecturer in Cultural and Historical Studies at London College of Fashion. She completed her undergraduate degree in History at Glasgow University in 1995 and then attended Brighton University to pursue a Master’s degree in Design History and Material Culture. Before becoming a fashion historian Mairi worked within various fields including time spent within the buying department of Oddbins Wine Merchants, as manager of a Fine Art gallery in London and then as a fashion industry professional working as assistant to the designer Shirin Guild.

Her research interests include;
• Fashion and Dress History (late nineteenth century, twentieth century and contemporary fashion cultures);
• Fashion Theory;
• Material Culture;
• Fashion and Popular Music;
• Fashion and Subcultures;
• Fashion within the context of the Archive and the Museum;
• Scottishness and Dress.