Butch asked Bill for his permission to start reproducing the suits, Bill agreed willingly and was so impressed with this attitude that he gave Butch all the original patterns. Butch and Kim were over the moon with this of course. From then on they started advertizing in fanclub magazines and the business started to grow, now they are the authority on Elvis jumpsuits.
There are very interesting stories on this DVD, Bill Belew talks about how he came to the jumpsuit design, he had always been a admirer of Napoleon, and so he used the Napoleonic collar, this framed Elvis’ face perfectly, so all attention was drawn to Elvis’ face on stage.
Gene goes into much detail about how all the designs came to be and there are very interesting stories about when Elvis started giving away belts in Hawaii, just before the Aloha from Hawaii Special, that had the designers sweating! All is explained about the original Aloha suit, belt and cape, fascinating to hear all this.
Gene only once made a design that Elvis didn’t like, and that was a Sagittarious design. To be honest, judging by the sketch, I think it would have looked great.
Another very fascinating story is how the Ali robe came to be.
Muhammed Ali together with Angelo Dundee, Ali’s cornerman and Howard Bingham (Ali’s photographer) went to visit Elvis in Las Vegas and Elvis had Gene make a boxing robe in the style of an Elvis jumpsuit, and on the back it read ‘The People’s Choice’ in beautiful stones. You can see a stunner of a photo of Elvis with Ali with Ali trying on the robe. Angelo Dundee talks about how his meeting happened, a very fascinating story for sure.
Butch and Kim even had the honour to make a replica cape and belt that were given to Japan’s Prime Minister as a gift when he went to see Graceland along with President Bush. Here we also see Todd Morgan talk about this visit and how much the PM loved being there.
B&K Enterprises also is very well known in Hollywood nowadays, as they make all the jumpsuits for movies that feature impersonators.
If you are a jumpsuit junkie, you simply have to own this DVD, everything is explained about how the jumpsuits were made, what fabrics were used, Elvis’ interaction with the design team. You will get to see many original jumpsuits that were filmed in Graceland (EPE gave their full cooperation for this DVD), replicas by B&K Enterprises, lots of inside stories and the odd rare photo.
Even if you have only a slight interest in this phase of Elvis’ career, it’s well worth a look, as it is a captivating story, told by numerous people in an intriguing way.
All through the program there is an avalanche of beautiful photos and fan filmed super 8mm footage which correspond for a change(!) with the topic discussed. And the background music is really enthralling and also not intrusive! So many times on these kind of DVD’s the music just drives you bonkers, not here, this is really done very classy and tasteful.
It’s baffling that it took this long before something came out that delves so deep into a fascinating phase in Elvis’ career. Nowadays when people think of Elvis, it’s the jumpsuited Elvis, this image is so well-known around the world, little children immediately know who it’s about when they see a jumpsuit. I’m very glad that finally now, there is this DVD which goes into so much detail about everything that has to do with the jumpsuit, it’s amazing to learn all this.
There are extras which go into Bill Belew’s and Gene Doucette’s careers, you’ll get to see all the people they worked with, it is all there.
Very sad is that this DVD is also a kind of goodbye to 2 people in the Elvis World who happened to be involved with this project. Bill Belew and Todd Morgan passed away before the DVD came out.
For EP Gold: Simon de Wit