NEW YORK — Bob Mackie has been responsible for quite a few fashion moments: the quirky costumes for “The Carol Burnett Show” and the “Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” Sharon Stone’s drop-dead-sexy gold dress in “Casino” and the enormously full-skirted gown that Whoopi Goldberg wore during the 1999 Academy Awards spoof of Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth.”
Now, Mackie is letting go of some of his most extravagant pieces. On Nov. 22, Christie’s New York, in conjunction with Julien’s Auctions, is staging “Mackie: Costume and Couture From the Personal Archives of Bob Mackie,” an auction of 150 lots featuring some of the designer’s outfits and sketches.
Mackie had collected so many of his iconic looks over the years that his Los Angeles storage space was bursting out of its seams.
“I just put [the pieces] away and kept them and kept them,” Mackie recalled. “I recently started going through them all and thought, ‘This is kind of crazy. What am I keeping them for?'”
Highlights in the auction include a prototype for a porcelain Rhumba Barbie that Mackie designed, sketches of dresses he made for Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli in 1963, costumes designed for Elton John, a lioness headdress inspired by “The Lion King” and the aforementioned Queen Elizabeth I costume. “I don’t know what anyone would want to do with that gown,” Mackie said. “Maybe they can prop it up in their living room as a piece of art.”
The auction also includes many outfits that didn’t make it onto stage or screen, including bejeweled evening gowns, wildly extravagant fur stoles and over-the-top hats.
“I went through some fun times and periods in fashion and show business, and it’s fun to bring it out and let it bloom again,” Mackie said.
The collection will be on view at Christie’s in London Saturday through Wednesday. It then will travel to Christie’s in Beverly Hills Nov. 1-4 before moving to the auction house’s New York headquarters for a Nov. 18-21 viewing. A portion of the proceeds from the live auction will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Though his creations were often media spectacles, Mackie intends to keep a low profile on the day of the auction. “I will be listening from another room,” he said. “I don’t want to stand there and see something that is worth a lot of money go for nothing. Or vice versa. It could be painful.”
Mackie isn’t about to turn his back on television, though. The designer just created the costumes for Carol Burnett for a television special of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
“She played the princess 40 years ago and this time, she plays the evil queen,” Mackie said. “It was fun to do. It was sort of between a drag queen and Joan Collins … which isn’t a very far place to go.”