Bob Mackie has been Cher’s go-to designer for decades. Ever since working with her as a guest on The Carol Burnett Show, Mackie has created ostentatious and emblematic clothes for the superstar—which is why he’s also a character in the musical about her life, Broadway’s The Cher Show.
But the Tony-nominated costume designer’s work happened more behind the scenes, creating 683 costume pieces. With a costume change every 26 seconds (on average), his designs needed to be recognizable, but functional.
Still, Mackie did the extra legwork and dug out the original dresses and patterns to make new ones for the three ladies who play Cher. “All of her Oscar clothes are exact copies,” he told Playbill after winning the 2019 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical. “We have the real ones to look at. We had all the patterns. All the beading and patterns were done exactly the same because her fans know when they're not right.”
On top of costuming three Chers, Mackie designed the world of Cher across multiple decades. From vibrant magentas and blues in the ’60s to “gun metal and black jet and silver and diamonds,” Mackie delivers a fashion experience fit for the stage.
“In the big number, those are all inspired by outfits that she’s worn. All those ethnic global-inspired outfits ... those were just fun to do,” he says. “I made them a little bigger than life for the stage. Because televisions in those days, we were lucky if we had a 16-inch television…. It was fun to do it for the stage from head to toe.”
The Cher Show marks Mackie’s return to Broadway for the first time in 20 years, having designed the costumes for 1999’s Minnelli on Minnelli. Based on this experience, “I'd love to come back to theatre. I had such a good time.
“These are clothes that you want people to notice you in,” he says. And notice they did.
Videography and video editing by Roberto Araujo.