Bob Mackie, Promoter of Naked Dress, Documentary Premieres ‘Naked Illusion’ With Cher, Pink and More

An all-star fan club turned out Monday night in Los Angeles to toast the one and only Bob Mackie at the world premiere of the documentary “Bob Mackie: Naked Illusion.”

Cher, Carol Burnett, RuPaul and Pink joined the designer on stage after the show to chat about how he’s influenced their lives over his 60-year career, helping them tackle character, giving them confidence for them and turning them into individual stars.

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Five years in the making, Matthew Miele (“Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s”) has created a stunning film that traces the fashion world of “Mr. Hollywood,” whose work continues to delight young stars and runways. Those are Miley Cyrus, who Mackie wore on stage at the 2023 Grammys, appearing in the document, as is Tom Ford, whose work Mackie influenced – along with the work of Alessandro Michele and others.

Although the film dips into the Met Gala and CFDA Awards for dramatic effect, it focuses primarily on Mackie’s costume work in Hollywood. And the fashion doc genre is a delight because there is so much footage of his amazing clothes in motion on stage and screen: from Cyrus’ stunning Grammys performance; for Mitzi Gaynor rocking the original dress that may have been revealed in her 1968 TV special; to Cher at the Met Gala in 1974 in a revealing dress that landed her on the cover of Time magazine; and later at the Oscars podium in 1986 in Mackie’s famous naked mohawk revenge dress.

The three stars’ commentary on the process of creating the looks is interesting, like much else in the film, as Miele uses Mackie’s wonderful sketches of Marilyn Monroe, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and others throughout, giving the joyful drawings of life.

He also spends time filming the Armenian seamstresses in Glendale, California, who have been bringing Mackie’s works to life since the 1980s, carefully embroidering his dresses, using his hand-drawn sketches for the exact sequins and crystal placements in an example of hands-. on a relationship between the designer and the craftsman that is gradually disappearing in fashion.

Pink and CherPink and Cher

Pink and Cher

Pink, who helped bring Mackie to a new generation of stars including Kim Kardashian, Zendaya and more, recalled how the designer created her bare-bones look for the 2010 Grammys when she made “Glitter in the Air” hang over above the audience. “He’s standing naked in front of Bob Mackie,” she laughed during the panel discussion. “I think I’m responsible for teaching you two things about braids,” she said as she instructed Mackie and design director Joe McFate in the careful placement of the rhinestones.

In the film, the pop star also talks about how Mackie, who is the most laid-back guy you’ll ever meet, while dressing himself as a Brooks Brothers dad, has a “soft power” in the way he works, which helped him get to work. decades of Hollywood divadom.

Because Mackie is so protective, Miele’s exploration of the personal side of his life in the film is revealing and poignant, including his first marriage and divorce, the death of his son, who was a Hollywood makeup artist, and tender moments with granddaughter and grandsons, whom he knows later in life.

The panel discussion, which included Mackie, his longtime design director McFate, and the film’s director, was a love fest for the documentary, which is seeking a distributor for release.

“It was so long and I thought oh my god, I’m going to be bored to death, I know everything about him. But it was great, I really enjoyed it. He and I spent more time together than I’ve spent with a lot of guys,” Cher said, recalling her weekly fitting with the designer for “The Sonny and Cher Show,” and he made 17 outfits in face per week on average.

His output for “The Carol Burnett Show” was even more impressive – sometimes hundreds of costumes a week, totaling over 17,000 for the variety show’s 11-year run in the 1960s. “It gave me my character. Sometimes, I didn’t know how I was going to do a character until I knew what it got me into,” she said, sharing how Mackie helped her find Mrs. Wiggins’ walking, rod sight gag Starlett O’Hara curtains and others. “You talked about working from the outside in,” she said, motioning to RuPaul. “I did the same thing and it was about him.”



RuPaul always had his eye on Mackie, from the beginning of his stage career, because he had seen and admired his work on television. “I was doing a show at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas and I thought Bob would make my costumes because I saw Cher and Diana [Ross], so that’s what I did,” he said. “And years later, I got this contract to be the face of MAC Cosmetics in 1994, and they asked me who I wanted to dress. He made this beautiful suit, and the MAC people said ‘Oh no, no,’ and they went somewhere else to do this thing. But I still have that outfit and I wore it forever in my nightclub.”

In his “soft power,” Mackie was deflecting attention. “You won’t be able to stand me after this,” he said. “Who would have thought that so many people would have gathered to look at a collection of old work.”

Launch Gallery: Inside the “Bob Mackie: Naked Illusion” World Premiere.

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