Reality Rocks - Archive

Idol Paul McDonald & His Amazing Technicolor Dreamsuit

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

If it's true that clothes make the man, then we can assume that Paul McDonald is already the winner of "American Idol" Season 10. At a stage in the game when the semifinalists were still dressing themselves--with no expert "Idol" stylists swooping in to do away with all the contestants' fashion don'ts--the Nashville rocker was already making a stylish impression on the judges, and America, with his rock star-worthy, custom-made rhinestone "Nudie suit," for which he paid $4,500 of his own money. He's now in the top 13, so clearly it was worth every shiny penny.

"It broke my bank, but it was an investment, like a guitar," the sharp-dressed man recently told The Hollywood Reporter, discussing the signature suit he's been rocking since his pre-"Idol" days with his Nashville band, the Grand Magnolias.

Paul's gaudy getup, which he first donned during "Idol's" Vegas/Green Mile week and then wore onstage for last week's results show, was inspired by the fabulous Nudie suits designed by California tailor Nudie Cohn. Back in the '60s and '70s, Cohn made flamboyantly bedazzled stage outfits for legends like Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Gene Autry, Porter Wagoner, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, John Lennon, Glenn Campbell, Elton John, and George Jones--and now many of Cohn's creations hang in museums, they are such works of art. Paul's outfit, which was inspired by a Nudie suit worn back in the day by his own idol, alt-country pioneer Gram Parsons, was designed by Manuel Cuevas Jr., whose dad actually apprenticed for the one and only Cohn.

Paul isn't the first modern-day musician to resurrect the iconic Nudie look--R.E.M.'s Mike Mills is known for wearing Nudie suits onstage, and he rocked one in the 1994 video for "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?"--but Paul is certainly the first "Idol" hopeful to do so. In a competition where the contestants are constantly warned by the judges that they have to stand out...well, Paul now stands out like a sequined sore thumb. He may have paid $4,500 for his suit, but the publicity it's generating? Priceless.

Check out Paul in all his rhinestone-cowboy "Idol" glory below. I'm surprised producers weren't worried it'd be too retina-scaldingly bright to air in HD!

[photo courtesy of Fox]

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