The Art of Bob Mackie

Image of The Art of Bob Mackie
Release Date: 
November 16, 2021
Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by: 

It is about time that this man is celebrated and recognized with a book devoted to his extraordinary talents. Bob Mackie has been long dismissed as a costume designer, albeit one with no boundaries, but what The Art of Bob Mackie does is give this man his due. If you are only expecting to find a photocentric coffee table book of outrageous beads and feathers worn by Cher, then this is not the book you search for as it proffers the universe of Bob Mackie and his contributions to the worlds of television, entertainment, movies, fashion, and just about any other category that might include clothes.

The authors give the reader a sort of biographical and chronological tale of how this one man came to be a mega star. Mackie is one of the true creative geniuses of any era when it comes to clothes of any kind, whether it be costumes, off the rack, or custom made. It is his life story told through words so that the text is conversational. The Art of Bob Mackie is mostly sketches and photographs that exhibit the brilliance that is Bob Mackie and his vast powers of imagination and creativity.

The duality of this book is that it also traces the burgeoning of television as a source of entertainment and how the medium created some of the biggest names in entertainment. The authors also expose the demise of old-time big studio costume departments and designers. The reader will get a degree of intimacy through Mr. Mackie’s own words spoken in the most humble and honest tones—the total opposite of his oeuvre in terms of personality.

What the prospective reader will learn who Elizabeth Courtney and Ret Turner are as integral partners in the lives of and the careers of Mackie. His first boss, then partner, and then life partner of five decades, is Ray Aghayan. In addition to what would be considered uncommon knowledge is lots and lots of Mackie’s interactions with his clients/studios/ directors/choreographers and, oh yes, there is lots of Cher and Carol and a roster of stars of stage and screen that would turn any designer green with envy. So, if you want to be educated as well as entertained reading about a long underrated and overlooked designer then this is a book that must become part of your library.