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Costume Design

16 March 2011
Two pervasive elements in Mackie’s work are glamour and humor. His costumes for The Carol Burnett Show were instrumental to the program’s character-driven comedy sketches. A perfect example of this is the “Starlett O’Hara” gown made of green velvet drapes—complete with curtain rod—which played a pivotal role in the “Went with the Wind” skit. The script had not called for the curtain-rod sight-gag, but the result china wholesale was pure comedy genius and undoubtedly led to the skit’s designation as one of “TV’s Fifty All-Time Funniest Moments” by TV Guide. The Carol Burnett Show also provided Mackie with the opportunity to dress an impressive array of guest stars, including Ethel Merman, Bernadette Peters, and Sonny and Cher.

In 1971 Mackie began work on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, a series that amply displayed his distinctive design vision. Cher had met Mackie in 1967 when she was a guest on The Carol Burnett Show and asked him to provide costumes for her that would create a more mature, glamorous image. Cher’s physical presence and her persona enabled Mackie to showcase his flamboyant designs without seeming too extreme. About her remarkable ability to wear his designs, Mackie once remarked: “There hasn’t been a woman in the limelight since Garbo or Dietrich who could pull off such outrageous visual fantasies while maintaining her individual beauty” (Mackie, p. 176). The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour proved to be a ratings bonanza, since viewers tuned in weekly to see what Cher was wearing. Using nude mens clothings soufflé, a soft spongy fabric and strategically placed beads, Mackie’s designs drove network censors and viewers wild by showcasing her long, slender torso with cropped tops and low-slung beaded skirts. Her costumes were dripping with beads, feather, and fur, but Cher wore them with graceful china wholesale nonchalance, as easily as if she were wearing a pair of blue jeans. With tongue firmly in cheek, she gamely accepted being dressed as a harem girl, an Indian princess, and even a snake. Cher is credited with making the “Mackie look” famous when she appeared on the cover of Time magazine in his nude soufflé gown in 1975.

Bob Mackie’s collaboration with Cher continued over the decades, and his designs for her became an integral part of her image. He has provided the memorable wardrobes for her many public appearances, including her 2002 Living Proof—The Farewell Tour. Tending toward the outrageous, he dressed her as Cleopatra for wholesale mens pants the launch of her fragrance, Uninhibited, and a “Mohawk Warrior” for the 1986 Academy Awards he provided the sheer catsuit worn in her infamous “If I Could Turn Back Time” music video. This ensemble, which gave viewers a good look at Cher’s tattooed derriere, was criticized as too risqué for daytime television, appearing on MTV only after 10 P.M. and sparked a national debate about decency standards. The “Mohawk Warrior,” with its bare midriff and high-feathered headdress, shocked many at the Oscars presentation, but for Cher, who felt snubbed by the Academy for not being nominated for her role in the film Mask, it pushed all the right buttons. Creating controversy through her choice of costume, Cher stole the show. Of Mackie’s designs she once remarked, “After we started working together, he just knew what I’d like. He walked the line between fashion and costume and that’s my favorite place to go” (Decaro, p. 67).
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