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Above: Cher and Bob Mackie attend the Met Gala on November 28, 1974 in New York City.

BOB MACKIE

Born in California in 1939, Robert Gordon Mackie loved to draw as a child, and on weekends his mother would take him to see technicolor movies with Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda wearing bright saturated-colour costumes with ruffles and sequins…

After attending art school, Mackie easily found work drawing designs for Hollywood costume designers. One of his first jobs was for Jean Louis, sketching the design for the dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday Mr. President. The following year he began working as an assistant for costume designer Ray Aghayan on The Judy Garland Show. The collaboration resulted in a partnership that lasted until Aghayan’s death in 2011.

 

He designed for Diana Ross and the Supremes, Barbra Streisand and for 11 years, Mackie was the costume designer for The Carol Burnett Show where he met Cher who vowed to buy  a couple of his beaded dresses when she could afford them. She eventually afforded hundreds of them…

Cher remains Mackie’s most enduring partnership. His clothes for her made headlines and magazine covers: The nude illusion dress that appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1975, the Mohawk headdress Oscar gown in 1986, and the sheer body stocking in 1989 Cher wore for If I Could Turn Back Time video, which got her briefly kicked off MTV.

Mackie has said that his designs are “for the woman who is not afraid to be noticed”. Costume designers are often overlooked for the importance in influencing mainstream fashion. Bob Mackie’s work defined the body-conscious, nude illusion, beaded gowns seen at every red carpet event today. 

He has been called the ‘Sultan of Sequins’ and the ‘Rajah of Rhinestones’ for his imaginative glitzy, glamorous gowns, and has received three Oscar nominations, won 9 Emmys, A Tony, and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

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Above: Cher attending the 46th Annual Academy awards in a Bob Mackie original gown.

CHER

Born in California in 1946, Cherilyn Sarkisian found fame at a young age as one half of the folk-rock duo Sonny & Cher after their song ‘I Got You Babe’ peaked at number one in the charts in 1965. Their hits dried up in 1967 but after a guest spot on ‘The Merv Griffin Show’ in 1971, CBS approached them with the idea of a summer replacement series. The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour combined songs, guest stars, humorous bickering, and comedy sketches into a hit. The series was picked up for another three years and ran until May 1974.

 

Behind the scenes, the marriage was falling apart while Cher’s solo career as a singer was growing. Sonny filed for divorce three days before the final episode of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was taped in February 1974. That Fall ABC signed Sonny up for The Sonny Comedy Revue, but the show was a failure without Cher and was cancelled by the end of the year. 

 

The Cher show debuted in February 1975, six weeks after Sonny’s show was cancelled, but despite starting with high ratings, the show was not popular, although her belly button became famous for being the first one ever shown on television. An overhaul for a second season didn’t help and Cher made the surprising decision that she would team back up with Sonny for another series.

 

On February 1, 1976, The Sonny and Cher Show debuted to top-ten ratings. However, as ratings fell, the show was moved to a later time slot so their banter could be written for a more adult audience. However, after two seasons, the last episode aired August 29, 1977.

 

From 1979 to 1982 Cher took a concert residency in Las Vegas before retiring from singing for a few years to focus on her acting career. Cher is the only musician to chart a number one single on the Billboard chart in six consecutive decades, and has received numerous awards including an Oscar, three Golden Globes, and a Grammy.

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