images courtesy of bob mackie
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 | 2 a.m.
If You Go
- Who: Cher
- When: Returns Thursday, performances at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, Saturdays-Sundays (dark Mondays, Fridays)
- Where: Caesars Palace
- Tickets: $95 to $250; 731-7110
Beyond the Sun
In an emergency, Cher calls Bob Mackie, the renowned fashion designer who has worked with almost every major celebrity in Hollywood during his 40-plus year career.
“She was bored with the old costumes in her show (at Caesars Palace) and wanted some new ones,” Mackie says from his office on Park Avenue in New York City. “They added a whole big new production number to the show and I did them all, probably 24 or 25 costumes, something like that.”
The new costume for the finale is typical Mackie and Cher — eye-popping, revealing, memorable.
Fans can check it out when Cher returns to the Colosseum on Thursday.
Cher and Mackie have known each other for 42 years, first meeting in 1967 when Cher was a guest on “The Carol Burnett Show.” Mackie designed costumes for the variety show.
“Cher and I got on very well,” Mackie says. “I ended up working on different television specials with her and when her own show came on the air (“The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour”) in the early ’70s, they asked me to do her clothes. It was a delight to do. She has a beautiful body and she was so young and so much fun.”
Perhaps the most memorable costume Mackie designed for Cher was the outlandish outfit she wore as a presenter at the 1986 Academy Awards ceremony — one that involved an enormous American Indian-inspired headdress, black stretch pants, bejeweled loin cloth, knee-high black leather boots, bare midriff and a cape.
“It was her thumbing her nose at the Academy for not nominating her that year,” Mackie says. “Actually, it isn’t accurate to say ‘thumbing her nose.’ She had been doing a lot of dramatic things and she just wanted people to know that she was back. She hates to dress up like a housewife in an evening gown. She wants to be herself, and that was herself.”
The two worked together on the memorable costume.
“We sat down on that one,” says Mackie, who has been called the Sultan of Sequins. “She wanted to look kind of Indian, American Indian. She looks very American Indian — actually she looks any number of ways, Middle Eastern. She’s one of those incredibly charismatic people that anything she puts on, you never lose her. You can put a blond wig on her with 40 others with blond wigs and she stands out.”
He describes Cher as “eccentric, but very honest and straightforward and says what she thinks. She likes to dress up and enjoys the reactions she gets from her fans.”
Mackie has done all of her costumes for the show at Caesars, deleting some and adding others over the past year and a half.
“She’s sort of developed this personality people come to see and it’s important to maintain that over the years,” he says. “They expect her to dress up and she doesn’t disappoint them.”
She isn’t as easy to please as she once was.
“For somebody who has worn everything in the world by this time, she has things she’d like to have and not have,” Mackie says. “When I first met her she was happy with anything I did but nowadays she’s a little more selective since she’s worn it all. We have to push a little harder and make it more interesting, also more interesting for the fans.”
The 69-year-old fashion designer has won seven Emmy Awards and been nominated for an Academy Award three times. He attended Pasadena City College and Chouinard Art Institute.
Mackie says has no hobbies outside of his work.
But he keeps busy. Over the summer he did the costumes for a musical based on the Steven Spielberg movie “Catch Me if You Can.” He appeared recently on “Project Runway.” And there is the QVC channel, where he has been selling his products for the past 17 years — appearing on the sales channel once or twice a month.
He’s been in demand for decades, designed gowns and costumes for everything from Broadway shows to movies to television. In the past 18 months, he has designed costumes for tours by Tina Turner, Pink and Mitzi Gaynor.
“With Tina Turner, it’s all about the legs and being able to move,” he says. “She’s such a dynamic performer. Once she steps on that stage, she never stops. During her last tour she changed costumes many, many times during each show. She was off like a minute. Her changes are very quick. She’s going to be 70 in November and is still going strong. She’s amazing.”
Mackie has designed for some of the most glamorous celebrities in the world. One of his favorites is Carol Burnett.
“I designed for many years on Carol Burnett’s show,” he says. “That was really fun. I got to do musical productions, comedy — a lot of things, and I got to meet so many people. She is certainly one of my favorites. I think of her as one of my family members.”