Talent is not diluted by circumstances or eclipsed by someone else's shadow. It endures, waiting for the right moment to emerge again - because, of course, it never left.
For Manny Cuevas that moment is back on the horizon. If the name sounds familiar it's because Manny's father is Manuel, Nashville's "Rhinestone Rembrandt" and legendary country music costumer (think Johnny Cash's "Man in Black" look and Elvis' gold llame suit). As a young child Manny learned to sew by putting together scraps of fabric leftover from his father's creations. He may have learned the trade from his father, but he brings his own aesthetic to his work. Manuel designs costumes; Manny designs couture.
His career has spanned over 40 years, with showrooms in several major cities, and his work has been seen on numerous catwalks including New York Fashion Week. Manny's designs may reference anything from Western wear - a trend that is de riguer this year - to early 20th century European military outerwear. His textile choices are bold and unexpected, a practice carried over from his "scrap-work" as a child. It wouldn't be unusual to see a silk charmeuse western shirt, a python military jacket, or denim fused with a metallic in such a way that the fabric changes each time it's washed. Yet the silhouettes are sleek, wearable and timeless. Manny creates the accessories as well, making him one of Nashville's most versatile designers.
He's a natural, and his passion for what he does keeps pace with his innate ability to do it. Without fervor and ability failure is certain, but success can also depend on brand recognition and circumstance. In the past Manny's work has been confused with that of his father and, although the differences are clear to anyone who bothers to really look, what amounts to a case of mistaken identity has been detrimental. As to circumstances, a serious, life-threatening health issue several years ago brought with it an involuntary hiatus from the fashion world.
But that's all about to change. Manny will soon be re-launching his label, Wear It Out by Manny. His new collection will be a fresh take on iconic wardrobe staples, all with his trademark style. I've seen the sketches and the pieces are undeniably chic, yet retain that edginess so prevalent in the editorial runway lines. Manny's take on the simple buttoned-down shirt is the perfect allegory for the new Nashville. A whole lot of worldliness with just a dash of country.
I can't wait to get my hands on one. Did I mention they're affordable, too?