I had the absolutely amazing opportunity to work with Mr. Mackie on a project while in school. (He let us call him “Bob”, but I always think of him as Mr. Mackie.) Let me just start by saying that that man is just great. Considering his accomplishments in Hollywood and fashion, he should have every right to be condescending, pretentious and nitpicky, but he’s none of those things. He’s friendly, puts one at ease, has high standards but communicates that without haughtiness. Okay, I’m going to stop gushing.
Design direction: Create jaw-dropping, fabulous, entrance making eveningwear. Think red-carpet. Use influences from traditional Mexican costume. Influence, not mimicry. Make me gasp in awe. Capture the signature Mackie attitude, that joie de vivre, that jubilance in frivolity, that love of over-the-top glamour.
I had so much fun with this project I can’t even tell you. Here’s a tiny sampling of some of the sketches I did. (click on sketches for a bigger view)
First up, I worked with feathers in super bright colors like I saw on Mexican hats and headdresses. (see also the sketch at top) Playing with textures being one of my signatures, the plan was to make long near-ruffly feathers out of chiffon, and mix them with different feathers (shorts, long quills, plumes). I sprinkled beads throughout the feathers, so the wearer should more shimmer than sparkle. The dress below is chiffon, with beading done in an ombre.
Cotton lace is everywhere on traditional Mexican dresses, but I chose a very modern rendition. Mr. Mackie liked my first sketches working with colorfu sashes, so he told me to take it above and beyond.
The necklace with the above caftan is supposed to made of broken pieces of Mexican pottery, with the edges sanded down, and wrapped/threaded with wire.
Yes, I did an ode to Cher. Cue liberal doses of rhinestones, a jumpsuit, and high camp factor. (Oh, come on! I just had to!)
Working with ruffles was obvious, but I wanted to figure out an unexpected way of doing them. So one of the first sketches used layers and layers of different cottons and cotton laces, building up around the more modern idea of mixing textures, like the one below. I kinda liked the fact that it looked like a fantastical quinceañera dress.
Then, I got to thinking that in order to really capture the Mackie Magic ™, it needed color. The sketch below is one of the results and the one Mr. Mackie and I picked together to make for the show. We nixed the bolero to show skin instead. (Okay, he originally wanted me to make the first feather dress, but after I told him how much it would cost in feathers, we decided on this one instead.)
Here are some shots of the actual dress.
First, from the juried show. (I can’t find any pics from the big final show.)
And by popular demand, I used the dress for another show later on:
The dress got placed in the store front of a boutique in Santa Monica for a few weeks after graduation:
A picture from my first fitting was in the May 2002 issue of W magazine! (Basically highlighting Otis (my school) and its relationships with designers like Mr. Mackie and Jeremy Scott who come to do projects with students (caption not mine):
Left to right: fitting notetaker, me, Joe McFate (Bob Mackie Design Group Executive Design Coordinator), Bob Mackie, my teacher Sally, the model (Laurie–super nice and always professional) wearing the first muslin, and Otis Fashion Dept. Chair Rose Brantley.
After the fashion show, the earrings I bought for my model accidently got sent to Mr. Mackie, who loaned out a lot of costume jewelry to the students. I made an appointment to go fetch them. When I got there, ever the gracious host Mr. Mackie gave me a mini tour of this studios and even showed me some sketches for the upcoming Cher tour! I’d kill to have another opportunity to work with him.
P.S. There are flats with every sketch, but considering the size of these croquis, I only scanned the figures for most of them.