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William Lewis Belew (May 20, 1931 – January 7, 2008) was an American costume designer who created stage outfits worn, among others, by Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, The Band, Gladys Knight, Gloria Estefan, Josephine Baker, Brooke Shields, Joan Rivers, Dionne Warwick, the Osmonds, and the Jacksons. It was Josephine Baker who encouraged Belew to work as a costume designer.While he made costumes for plays, musicals, operas, ballets, TV specials and TV series, Belew is particularly famous for the stage outfits he made for Elvis. He created the tight-fitting black leather outfit that Elvis wore in the 1968 NBC Comeback Special, and the bell-bottomed jumpsuit outfits with high Napoleonic collars, pointed sleeve cuffs, wide belts and capes, decorated with gems, metal and rhinestone studding, sequins and embroidery. Belew also designed the suit Elvis is wearing on the famous photo of President Nixon and him in the Oval Office, a velveteen outfit originally designed for Elvis to use in his Las Vegas shows. Of the collars, Belew has explained that they were inspired by Napoleon's wardrobe and that he chose them because they would frame and draw attention to Presley's face.In an interview Belew explained why most of the jumpsuits were white: The lighting [in Las Vegas] was still in its early stages. And we found that the color that worked the best was white. It allowed them to change the colors on him, where as black would absorb all the color. And it was hard to highlight him. And we experimented with blue which was one of his favorite colors. Red. But it just ended up that white was the best thing and, of course, you know, you want the star to be the person, you know, and not the wardrobe. During the 1970s Belew designed Elvis' offstage wardrobe, as well.Among the most famous of Belew's Elvis jumpsuits are the American Eagle (created for the 1973 Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite) and the Peacock (first worn at the Forum in Los Angeles in 1974, and later seen on the cover to the 1975 album Promised Land). In 2008 the Peacock suit was sold at an online auction for $300,000. This made it the most expensive piece of Elvis memorabilia sold at auction.The elaborate embroidery, which was getting a more prominent role on the jumpsuits in 1974–1977, was the work of Gene Doucette.In the 1970's, Bill Belew was in big demand. He was busy doing television shows and movies, so he would give Gene the blank suits and Gene would design them himself. Gene designed most of the suits from 1972 until Elvis' death. He designed the more elaborate suits such as the Aloha, Peacock, Sundial, Tiger, and American Eagle.Belew died at the age of 76 from diabetes-related complications in Palm Springs, California Wikipedia

More about Bill Belew:

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Costume Designer

Costume Designer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Your Big Break1999TV Series
The 21st Annual American Music Awards1994TV Special
Miracle Mile1993TV Short
The American Music Awards 20th Anniversary Special1993TV Special
The 19th Annual American Music Awards1992TV Special
Dangerous Women1991TV Series
Sister Kate1989-1990TV Series 8 episodes
Mr. Belvedere1985-1990TV Series 117 episodes
Elvis: One Night with You1985TV Special short uncredited
Santa Barbara1984TV Series 22 episodes
The 11th Annual American Music Awards1984TV Special
Fridays1981-1982TV Series 7 episodes
The Steve Allen Comedy Hour1980TV Series 1 episode
The Carpenters: Music, Music, Music1980TV Special
The Magic of David Copperfield II1979TV Movie
The 31st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards1979TV Special
Leif1979TV Special costume design
Stockard Channing in Just Friends1979TV Series 1 episode
The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait1978TV Special
The Magic of David Copperfield1978TV Special
The Carpenters... Space Encounters1978TV Special
The Captain and Tennille in Hawaii1978TV Special
Dorothy Hamill Presents Winners1978TV Special
The Carpenters at Christmas1977TV Special
Rolling Stone Magazine: The 10th Anniversary1977TV Movie
They Said It with Music: Yankee Doodle to Ragtime1977TV Special
Carpenters Very First Television Special1976TV Special
The Captain & Tennille Special1976TV Special
An Evening with John Denver1975TV Movie
Flip1970-1974TV Series 94 episodes
Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters1969-1970TV Series 14 episodes
The Young Americans1970TV Movie
Elvis1968TV Movie

Costume Department

Costume Department

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The 39th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards1987TV Special wardrobe supervisor
Sisters in the Name of Love1986TV Special costume supervisor
It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman!1975TV Movie costumes
Elvis: That's the Way It Is1970Documentary wardrobe designer: Elvis

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Fit for a King2008Video documentaryHimself

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1987ACECableACE AwardsCostume Design for a Comedy or Music SpecialSisters in the Name of Love (1986)
1980Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Costume Design for a Limited Series or a SpecialThe Carpenters: Music, Music, Music (1980)


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#Fact
1Headed the design team for Elvis Presley's stage wear and much of his personal wardrobe from 1969 to 1977.


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