LATE 60s & 70s SHOW BUSINESS AND GLAM FASHION
If you’re a fan of 60s and 70s entertainment, glamour and beyond, you’ve seen at least one (and most likely many more) fashion(s) by legendary designer, Bob Mackie. It’s not an exaggeration to say he designed for almost every A-list entertainer. Bob Mackie’s influence can be seen everywhere to this day, on beloved retro T.V. programs such as The Cher Show, the biggest name Awards shows in the entertainment industry, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Dancing With The Stars, Broadway stages, and the Las Vegas strip, to name a few.
Behind Mackie’s designs, (including his Oscar looks and timeless custom gowns for The Supremes), there’s a sense of unmistakable, sleek flamboyance, with emphasis on show business and Burlesque design features.
Indeed, Mackie designed for two Las Vegas shows Hallelujah Hollywood and Jubilee!, the latter of which had a super performance run spanning from 1981 to 2016. Here are some of Mackie’s showgirl costume sketches; expansive designs, large over the top dimensions, extravagance, flare, and colorful detailing.
SHOWGIRL GOES COUTURE
Moving into the late 60s and 70s show business or entertainment industry, let’s take a look at Mackie’s couture fashion pieces for some of Babes Rage’s all time favorite icons. In these larger-than-life fashion ensembles, the showgirl aesthetic shines through from the headdresses, to incorporation of feathers and fringe, to expansive colorful capes, fabric Isis wings, and elaborate crystal detailing.
GLAMOUR FOR THE STAGE
In addition to showgirl costumes and showgirl inspired couture, some of Mackie’s most famous pieces are high glamour costumes designed specifically for the stage. These pieces have a dazzling aesthetic but also take movement and illusion into consideration. This is where the Babes Rage style, “Showgirl Go Go Looks” comes into the picture. If you haven’t already make sure to check out our article, “Features of Showgirl Go Go Looks” to read more.
An iconic design element in Mackie’s stage wear and gowns is use of a transparent fabric base where embellishments, appliqués, and sequins are applied directly.
It’s all about concealing or creating an illusion with fabric in order to highlight the female form and luxurious details.
“Tina Did It First: Before “naked dresses” became standard on the red carpet, Tina was the trend-setter, wearing plunging, sheer, cutout naked dresses on stage.”
With a nude transparent fabric base, Mackie created iconic sex appeal (the high cut slits were apparently Tina’s idea. During fittings, she’d tell Mackie to keep cutting her slits higher. #Legend). Mackie’s stage wear reveals skin. (Love it. Let’s follow in these footsteps and create a little controversy shall we, Babes Rage)? Mackie’s stage wear often has an illusionary plummeting neckline and high-cut slits, while retaining functionality for high energy performers like Tina and Beyonce.
The “Dancing Flame Dress” worn by multiple generations of great performers is one of Mackie’s most iconic pieces of stage wear utilizing nude illusion fabric in order to visually represent and enhance the movement of a flame.
GLORIOUS GOWNS FOR SHOWS AND RED CARPET LOOKS
Some of Mackie’s most famous “traditional” gowns were designed for The Supremes and then later Diana Ross after she launched her solo career. The designs and volume of work speaks for itself.
A common feature in Mackie’s gowns, (used to compliment and accentuate the female form), is a V-shape pattern made with sequins. (a decorative feature shown in both gowns above).
Let’s take a glance at a few more show stopping gowns Mackie did for The Supremes:
Among many legends, Bob Mackie created some of Cher’s most iconic show stopping red carpet looks for decades. Here’s one Babes Rage crowd favorite, the dreamy pale yellow, two-piece set worn with hoops and soft pink nails to the Oscars in 1973. As one journalist observed, Cher wasn’t nominated for an award but she most definitely stole the show.
To see more of Cher’s iconic Oscar looks throughout the years, check out this article.
The pale yellow dreamboat Oscars fashion is the inspiration for our “70s Showgirl” mini collection of earrings “Stars.”
While we may not be able to obtain the finest couture from our favorite era, we’d like to celebrate the 70s Showgirl glow and opulent energy in reasonably priced one of a kind, everyday accessories.
FINALE: A TOP TEN LIST
Babes Rage touched based with NYC correspondent, Lush Damage for her take on the Best Of Bob Mackie. Here’s a Top Ten favorite looks according to Lush countdown (you can find the original post on our IG here):
The #1 nude dress is what we like to call a goddess dripping diamonds. This fashion as in all of Bob Mackie’s extensive archive, radiates an energy or essence of luxurious cascading crystals dripping from the body. This is 70s Showgirl Fashion in it’s finest form.
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