Magnificent Mackie

As I mentioned in an older post, all about my Carol Burnett doll, I am a huge fan of the American costume designer, Bob Mackie.

So it’s time to  blab about the “sultan of sequins”.


Bob Mackie is the creator of so many fabulous, glamourous costumes ,worn by so many big name divas, it is astonishing.

His costumes are instantly recognisable with both wit and glamour playing a major part in their creation. If you see a diva wearing a gaggle of sequins on her form shaping frock, it is most probably Mackie. From his heyday in the 1970’s, when he designed all the costumes on The Carol Burnett Show, and The Sonny & Cher hour, to today, when a modern diva like Pink calls on Mackie to design her glamour outfits for her recent tour. Vintage Mackie can often be seen on the red carpet too. If you want to look great, call Bob.

He started his career back in 1963 when he assisted Ray Aghayan on The Judy Garland Show, went on to design costumes for Mitzi Gaynor tv specials, and her Las Vegas act. This led to his greatest collaboration with Carol Burnett, she still wears his designs in most of her shows or appearances (expect a Mackie on her back when she appears on Glee). Millions of Americans (and the rest of the world, well me, for one) would tune in to see what fabulous costumes Cher would appear in on her tv variety show.

Mitzi Gaynor


Mackie has won 9 Emmy awards and been nominated for another 20. He was also nominated for 3 Oscars – Lady Sings The Blues (shared with Ray Aghayan & Norma Koch), Funny Lady (shared Ray Aghayan), and Pennies From Heaven. Dressing the divas – Diana Ross, Barbra Striesand & Bernadette Peters.

Diana Ross & Bernadette Peters went on to be continually dressed by Bob. Babs (the other one) went on to boring old Donna Karan. Her loss.

Diana Ross in Lady Sings The Blues

A glamourous Miss Ross

A sketch for a Diana Ross “Mackie” frock

Bob with Diana in the finished outfit

Bernadette Peters

Here are some images of his Carol Burnett outfits

And how can we ever forget his fabulous outfits for Cher to wear to the Oscars

Or his hysterical outfit for Whoopi Goldberg when she appeared as Queen Elizabeth at the Oscars.

Some of his “red carpet” appearances

Anjelica Huston

Rachel Griffith

Cher & Christine Aguilera

Madonna with Michael Jackson (not in Mackie)

His outfits appear in lots of places

Beyonce wears Mackie in a tribute to Tina Turner at the Grammys

Jennifer Lopez wears vintage Mackie in the film “Maid In Manhattan”

Mackie designed the costume (what little of it there is) for the finale of the film “Staying Alive”.

Arguably Mackie’s most famous creation on display at the Smithsonian institute.

Bob Mackie is also famous for his creations for the Barbie doll, here are some

As you can probably tell, I do like a bit of glitz and glamour.

I remember 20 years ago, I went to see a show in Las Vegas, called “Jubilee”, it was a spectacular Vegas type show, full of showgirls and such (and a recreation of the sinking of the Titanic, no less 🙂 ) In the final number the showgirl outfits (they appeared from the flies) seemed to shine and sparkle far more than the previous numbers. The way the lights caught the sequins was breathtaking. Looking into the program I noted that the finale costumes were designed by none other than Bob Mackie. I was thrilled. I was lucky enough to be taken on a backstage tour of the show. I must admit the dummies in the Titanic lifeboats were very tragic up close. I looked up and I could see the sequins of the Mackie costumes waiting for the next show. They were sparkling away, and far from tacky.

Something i found on the web regarding Jubilee & Mackie. My god! it is still playing 🙂

The sustaining lure of “Jubilee!,“ the 28-year-old production playing at Bally’s casino in Las Vegas, is a chance to see the gawk-worthy, classic Las Vegas look, a flashy swirl of sexy showgirls strutting about in their flashy costumes. Designed by Bob Mackie in 1980, the costumes cost about $3.5 million.

More than 1,000 different outfits are on display during the seven-act show, and while many are ultra-skimpy, the average cost of one of the ensembles in the glitzy finale sequence is $7,000. If there are unsung heroes keeping Mackie’s look alive after nearly three decades, it is the 18-member wardrobe staffers backstage who labor in an expansive costume shop constantly cleaning, repairing and sewing to keep the original designs fresh.

The rhinestones alone are worthy of attention. They are silver-plated Austrian Swarovski crystals made from topaz, sapphire, emerald, ruby and amethyst.  A famous vignette from the lore of the period when the costumes were being assembled — whether fact or fancy is a bit unclear nearly three decades later — is that there was briefly a worldwide rhinestone shortage when the “Jubilee!“ people swept up all the Swarovskis on the market and had them shipped to Las Vegas.

What heaven!


I have always said, I will dress in full glamour drag one day, but only if it is in a vintage Bob Mackie frock. One never knows what might happen in the future.

Should I call Bob for a fitting?


Filed under Awards, biography, movies, TV

2 responses to “Magnificent Mackie

  1. Great blog! You’ve put so much work into it. Bob Mackie is brilliant! Thank you for posting!

    • Thanks Heidi,
      i am a huge Bob Mackie fan, was saddened by the death of his mentor and collaborator Ray Aghayan.
      It was easy to put work into this post, cos Bob is brilliant an inspiring.
      Sadly i have been busy so no new posts about anything, but more coming soon
      GWJ , aka, BABS

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