Southern Hospitality: Priscilla Presley Hosts a Weekend at Graceland 

Priscilla Presley hosts a Southern weekend at Graceland.

Priscilla Presley — actor, producer, and one-time wife to Elvis Presley — still fields a lot of questions about her former husband. One question she gets with remarkable frequency is, "Why didn't Elvis stay in Hollywood?"

"I get asked that quite a bit," Presley muses. "It all comes down to not only is it his home, but it's in his blood, the South. It's in him as far as the friendships [and] his history in Memphis."

That's why Presley is hosting an Elegant Southern Style Weekend at Graceland Friday, September 27th, through Sunday, September 29th. Presley realized the best way to answer that recurring question once and for all was to show fans what drew the King of Rock-and-Roll back home time and again — the friendship, familiarity, and food (for starters) that Memphis is known for. "I just want to share that," Presley explains. "I want to share that with our visitors." The event will celebrate the fashion, food, architecture, design, and culture of the South with expert-led seminars, lively parties and events, workshops, and more.

click to enlarge Priscilla Presley
  • Priscilla Presley

"We have five seminars, every one of them including somebody that touched Elvis' life in many ways, his friendships. I know he missed that very much when he was here in Hollywood," Presley says.

"When I first arrived in Memphis on Christmas 1962, all of his friends were there to greet me at Graceland. It was my surprise, all the people that he talked about in Germany were there. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality; I was overwhelmed by the warmth."

That first show of Southern hospitality struck a chord with Presley, a chord that still resonates. "I've lived quite a few places because my father was in the military. I never really had that kind of bonding because I was a young kid going every three years, sometimes two, to a different school. So I embraced that and still do."

The jam-packed lineup of Presley's weekend includes several of her friends, as well. Presley's longtime friend, Memphis fashion icon Pat Kerr, will be a special guest. "I went to Patricia Stevens' finishing school. I just turned 18 and met Pat Kerr there," Presley says. "We became instant friends, and she actually taught me how to [wear] makeup back in the day."

Fashion plays a prominent role in the proceedings, as well it should. As recognizable for his jet-black hair and Lansky Bros. suits as for his voice and hips, Elvis was, after all, one of the first American performers to shatter the mold when it came to crafting his signature look. "I helped Elvis with a lot of his clothing, not that he needed it because he had such style. But I would out go out and get things that I felt that he would like, especially in Vegas. I brought him the belt that he wore in his jumpsuit. I would shop in SoHo in New York. I would take a couple of trips a year and look for things for him that he might want to include in his style and his wardrobe."

click to enlarge Priscilla Presley
  • Priscilla Presley

Hitting a little closer to home is special guest Hal Lansky of Lansky Bros. "We know the story about Elvis," Presley says. "That was his favorite place on Beale Street, Lansky Bros., and he went in because the styles were so different. I really am looking forward to talking about that and what was important to him and why. He never wanted to look or be common in dress. He knew that style really was a part of not only yourself but expression."

Another cause for excitement for Presley is the selection of guests. Emmy Award-winning costume designer Janie Bryant is scheduled to attend the event. "She is just the perfect person for our first time out," Presley says. "She did Mad Men and HBO's Deadwood." Additional guests include Chef Kelly English of Restaurant Iris, motivational speaker and the inspiration behind the film The Blind Side Leigh Anne Tuohy, and Zoe Gowan, senior home editor for Southern Living magazine.

In short, Presley puts it best when she says, "I really believe that making something an event really makes memories." Priscilla Presley hosts A Southern Style Weekend at Graceland Friday, September 27th, through Sunday, September 29th.

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