A costume designer first, Bob Mackie, who was referred to by the fashion industry as “Mr. Hollywood” in the 1980s, was ahead of his time.
His work designing looks for variety shows and TV specials in the 1960s and 1970s, for Cher, Carol Burnett, Diana Ross, Diahann Carroll and more, filtered down to the streets, inspiring decades’ worth of halter tops, midriff-baring looks and nearly naked dresses.
His bare, beaded and feathered showgirl aesthetic has reverberated on the runways in collections by Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Zuhair Murad and more, and been embraced by a new generation of stars, including Beyoncé, Rihanna and Lady Gaga.
Years before fashion became regular TV fodder on “Project Runway” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (Mackie has appeared on both as a guest judge), he starred in an episode of “Love Boat” in 1981, alongside Halston, Gloria Vanderbilt and Geoffrey Beene.
In 1982, Mackie moved to New York City to launch a ready-to-wear line, and was an early showman on the runway, presenting collections at the Shubert Theatre, with themes inspired by the glitz of Vegas; Cole Porter; Hollywood style icons Lucille Ball, Audrey Hepburn and more.
“My feeling is, if you are going to do a show, do a show!” he told WWD.
Through the 1980s and ’90s, he spun his name out into licenses for everything from fragrance to eyewear, and continues to sell a collection on QVC today. Here’s a look at Mackie’s career in photos, from the red carpet to the runway.