Meet the Woman Behind the New-Age "Nudie" Suit : Judith Pierce of RoseCut Clothing
You may have noticed a spike in cowboy aesthetics and Yee-Haw culture in 2019, spurred perhaps by POC creatives in reclaiming the whitewashed world of cowboys and western culture, as in Lil Nas’s “Old Town Road”. It’s definitely having its well deserved moment, and from internet culture to contemporary art, the new-age cowboy has arrived.
Since the early days of rock n roll, entertainers have lusted after western rhinestone bedazzled apparel. Think of the greats, Elvis Presley, Gram Parsons and Elton John, all donning their wild threads long before anyone could grasp how important fashion would be to their careers. Since the 1950s, the legendary Nudie Cohn paved the way for the designers of today like RoseCut Clothing. Started by Los Angeles based fashion designer Judith Rothman-Pierce in 2009, RoseCut Clothing (formerly Rusty Cuts) has been creating custom, western wear for creatives and celebrities ever since. Nearly ten years later, Piece’s garments have been worn by the likes of Ty Segall, Kevin Morby, Post Malone and Brooke Candy, just to name a few.
Utilizing vintage custom appliqué work, dawning imagery from the 1960s and 70s, Pierce’s suits are uniquely adorned with everything from snakes and flames to dice and swords. As I journeyed California this summer for the #westcoaststudiotour, I was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look inside her Los Angeles studio, accompanied by local artist and musician Alex Uhrich while he had his final fitting on a custom all-white suit for his upcoming Fall wedding. Through rows of fabric, stacks of sketches and piles of custom embellishments, Pierce’s studio is littered with little punk treasures and inspirations. I sat down with her to discuss her earliest memories of creation, what it means to pay homage to fashion’s greats and how RoseCut has developed since its inception. Take a look below.
Jessica Ross: Let’s start with the basics, who are you, where are you from and what kind of work do you do?
Judith Rothman-Pierce: I’m the lady behind RoseCut Clothing. I grew up in San Diego, went to school in San Francisco, and now I’m living in a dilapidated mansion in LA. Well, it’s not really a mansion but I like to call it one. I make custom appliquéd and bedazzled suits mostly for stage and weddings, and also have an RTW women’s clothing line with occasional one-off pieces.
What are some of your earliest memories of designing? Was dress-up one of your favorite games as a kid?
My mom signed me up for sewing lessons in 3rd grade and it just clicked. I hadn’t really had an interest in it before, but after I just wanted to be a ‘fashion designer.’ I made really questionable 90’s clothes, like matching shirts and pants in sunflower print and tops with rainbow dragonflies, and I made clothing out of trash bags and duct tape with my sister and neighbors. But yes, I always loved dressing up and I remember in particular we had these 40’s hats with the net veil that covers your face that I LOVED wearing.
Who are some of your top fashion icons of all time?
Exene Cervenka, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Keith Richards, Scary Spice….And then designers that did odd stuff like Elsa Schiaparelli, Vivienne Westwood, and East West Musical Instruments.
It was so much fun to watch you fit Alex Uhrich for his wedding suit while we were in your studio. Do you make a lot of wedding outfits and what are some of your favorite memorable custom pieces?
I do a lot of weddings- I loved doing Alex’s suit! White on white was really special and he had such fun ideas. Some of my other favorites... I loved making the Intergalactic/Swamp/Florida themed suit for my friend Vashti from Warm Drag; the ‘Hurricane Lane’ romper for Nikki Lane, the Crybaby suit for Kevin Morby; the yellow snake suit for Post Malone; Hawaii suit for Alice Baxley; and the psychedelic weed and mushroom set for Elle King, to name a few. I love every custom piece in its own way but those are some vastly different ones that stand out to me as really suiting the personality of who they were for.
What’s the importance behind the name RoseCut, and why the name change from Rusty Cuts?
It was a trademark thing! It wasn’t really by choice, but in the end, I’m happy with the change. And rose cut is a cut of diamonds, so I like to think I’m movin’ on up.
Where do you see RoseCut going in the next few years? Any plans to produce an entire wearable line?
I haven’t been planning too far ahead, just seeing where each day takes me. But I do have a ready-to-wear clothing line in addition to the custom suits! I do textile design, artist collabs, and also make clothing from vintage fabrics and tapestries.
Los Angeles artist Alex Uhrich in his custom all-white wedding suit
How’s the fashion community in LA? How’s it being in the fabric district?
It’s great. I love all the designers I know and I think everyone is really supportive of each other. There are so many talented people surrounding me, not just in the fashion world, and I’m lucky I get to be around it all. And being in the fabric district is the BEST because I can just walk a couple blocks and get anything I need, like rainbow scissors and fabric completely covered in glitter and sequined Betty Boop patches. You never know what you’re gonna find. There’s one shop that’s pretty much wall to wall rhinestones which is kinda like heaven on earth.
If you could imagine an ultimate dream project what would it be? Money is no object here.
Making Keith Richards a suit. ULTIMATE DREAM. Keith, can you hear me?
What’s it like working with Post Malone? He’s got so many amazing pieces from you.
I work with his stylist, Cathy Hahn, and we come up with all the ideas together. She is awesome, and I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to make so many insane things with her. It’s not every day you find someone who can pull off a suit covered in mudflap girls, cigarettes, and switchblades. The blue silk suit he wore to the latest Bud Light Dive Bar appearance was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done. It had a medieval sword, dragon and skull theme, with about a billion rhinestones.
Kind of a silly question but if you could live in any time period when/ where would it be and who would you want to dress?
Probably the 60s/70s. 100% the person I’d most like to dress would be David Bowie. Plus I’d be able to get everything good from the ‘20s to ‘40s at thrift stores. Pretty much the dream.
What are some of your favorite bits of the process, the handmade finishing touche, the initial sketches? Walk us through a custom garment.
I think doing the initial designing of it is my favorite part. I get butterflies in my stomach sometimes when it’s something I’m really excited about. (Is that embarrassing to admit?) And then my other favorite part is when it’s completely done; because they take so long it’s a satisfying feeling to see the final result. My least favorite part is cutting out all the appliqué - the carpal tunnel is no joke.
Okay, some quick-fires for ya:
- Tie, bow-tie or bolo?
- Cards or dice?
- Gram Parsons or Willie Nelson?
- Leather or lace?
- High vs low-waisted?
- Triumph or Harley?
- Tarot or Zodiac?