The Art of Bob Mackie by Frank Vlastnik, Laura Ross
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication date: November 16, 2021
Genres: Non-fiction, Biography, fashion, History, Pop culture
After a week of reviewing tense and scary novels I wanted to end with a book that was a sheer delight. As a child of the 70s I grew up with a now defunct form of television, the variety show. Two classics were The Carol Burnett Show and The Sonny and Cher Show. While their format may have differed, these shows had one thing in common, one thing that made them stand out. Bob Mackie. Depending on your age and how invested you are in pop culture this name will either mean everything or nothing to you. Mackie is an iconic fashion designer whose work is lovingly curated in The Art of Bob Mackie.
Mackie began working in fashion as a sketch artist for Edith Head, another design icon and Jean Louis, the man who created the dress Marilyn Monroe was sewn into when she appeared at Madison Square Gardens to sing happy birthday to President Kennedy. From there he began designing costumes and gowns on his own for some of the biggest names in show business—Diana Ross, Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Tina Turner, and more recently Madonna, Pink, and Beyoncé. He designed all the costumes for The Carol Burnett Show for 11 years while at the same time designing Cher’s costumes for her show. During his career he won 9 Emmy awards and a Tony. He’s known for intricately beaded and sequined gowns that still gave performers the ability to move. They shimmered and flowed with the women wearing them.
Biography aside, The Art of Bob Mackie is visually stunning. The book is packed with photographs and dozens of Mackie’s personal sketches of costumes he created. They evoke a time of such glamour and style, when a gown could be sexy and still leave something to the imagination. The photos and reminiscences from Mackie and the women he dressed brought back so many memories from the outlandish (some of Burnett’s costumes on her show) to the jaw dropping (anything Cher wore). This is unfettered, joyful reading about a man of prodigious talent whose legacy is the opulent enhancement of women who were not considered to be traditional beauties. If you know someone who loves pop culture and fashion, The Art of Bob Mackie would make a marvelous gift.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.*