The name Bob Mackie has been synonymous with many things: fashion, design, glamour, creativity, and above all: Cher. After over 60 years, the legendary designer has continued to have an impact on fashion and in an industry that leans heavily on trends, Mackie manages to always remain in style.
As Pride continues to flourish in all its rainbow glory, Turner Classic Movies and HBO Max helped bolster LGBTQ voices and allies with the series Follow The Thread. Aligning with the Met’s new exhibition “In America: An Anthology of Fashion ”, the series featured in-depth industry conversations with fashion and design experts such as Tim Gunn, Zac Posen, Zaldy, Jeremy Scott, Sandy Powell, and, of course, Mackie.
The series explores the synergistic effect between fashion and film – something that Mackie absolutely adores. “I grew up going to the movies, and getting to talk about fashion and film was terrific,” Mackie told GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos in a recent interview. “I loved doing it, because I was talking about something I spent a lifetime working at.”
In Follow the Thread, which is available on HBO Max, Mackie was able to talk about the style and fashion of iconic movies including Stage Fright (1950) starring Marlene Dietrich; Sabrina (1954) starring Audrey Hepburn; Now, Voyager (1942) starring Bette Davis; and Tootsie starring Dustin Hoffman.
From Elton John to RuPaul to Zendaya, Mackie has created stunning looks donned by many celebrities. However, it is Cher who will forever be associated with the designer.
“We hit it off perfectly when we met!” Mackie said of meeting Cher. “There have also been some years where we don’t get to work together or see each other, but the moment we are back together it is like no time has passed at all.”
He continued, “There is not a single trend that this woman has not worn and lived to see it come back over and over again. But at the same time there are certain things she continues to wear – the best fitting jeans, a casual leather jacket, and a big western, straw hat – and nobody wears them better.”
However, out of all of his looks that Cher has worn, there is one that stands out to him: the crystalline “Naked Dress”. She wore the dress on the cover of Time magazine in a photograph by Richard Avendon.
“She wore this gown the night we attended the Met Ball in 1974 and was in every paper the next day,” said Mackie. “The Time cover was in February of 1975.”
Having designed for decades, Mackie has seen a lot when it comes to fashion. As 21st century fashion icons like Billy Porter and Harry Styles show us that gender-free fashion is the new norm, Mackie loves to see it.
“I remember thinking, when I was in school, that Liberace was too much, and then years later Elton John came to me and asked me to make him some costumes for his concert tours,” said Mackie. “I asked him what he had in mind and he replied ‘Oh, like those things you make for Cher’. So when I see Harry Styles wearing a jumper, it reminds me of those early years with Elton. In the words of Harvey Fierstein: ‘This generation is telling us how they want to live!’”
“Follow the Thread – Airs Saturday evenings on Turner Classic Movies and is also available now on HBO Max in the Classics Curated by TCM hub