Elvis Presley's iconic stage costumes from the concert era of his career, 1969-1977 officially opened
in the visitor center at Elvis' Graceland Mansion in Memphis. While the permanent exhibits at Graceland include: 16
jumpsuits and 56 dazzling Elvis stage outfits. The displays chart the evolution of the design of Elvis' stage-wear, from simple two-piece karate-inspired suits to the famed "jumpsuits" with elaborate rhinestone and matching capes. A selection of accessories, photographs and performance footage complete the exhibit.
After focusing much of the 1960s on his career as an actor, not performing in front of a live audience for over seven years, the triumph of Elvis' 1968 concert television special prompted a permanent return to the concert stage with a sold-out, critically acclaimed month-long Las Vegas engagement in the summer of 1969. Elvis did not want to wear a tuxedo, which was basically the uniform of male crooners working in that town. He was going there to rock.
Wanting something special, he called upon Bill Belew, who had designed the now-classic black leather suit and other outfits for the '68 special. Inspired by Elvis' great interest in karate, Belew came up with simple two-piece gabardine suits in with tunic-style tops and long karate-style belts knotted to one side with the ends dangling from the hip.