A hidden gem resides in Covington’s Behringer-Crawford Museum for pop-culture fanatics in the Cincinnati area.
The “flamboyant, over-the-top” designs of Bob Mackie are part of the museum’s newest exhibit, dubbed “From Rituals to Runways: The Art of the Bead.” Running with the theme, four of his elaborately made costumes are displayed to illustrate the beauty of meticulous beadwork in brilliant colors.
The ensembles are striking on their own. The kick is that they are original designs worn by the iconic superstar and legendary singer herself, Cher.
Mackie was labeled one of the most talented designers of all time and was frequently sought out to make outfits for shows, galas and red-carpet events. His impressive resume included work making illustrious garments for the stars, serving clients such as Diana Ross, Tina Turner, and Elton John. He was a costume designer for The Carol Burnett Show for its entire 11-year run.
The eye-catching outfits on display at the museum were famously worn on the Sonny & Cher Show, where Mackie was selected to head the costume design team in 1967. He designed hundreds of outfits while he worked relentlessly with Cher until 1977, when the show came to an end.
Mackie is a force to be reckoned with. His work on the Sonny & Cher Show was outstanding; he pushed out original, new designs week after week, and gawking at Cher’s outfits became a staple part of the viewer experience. Their collaboration created headline-making looks and new trends; — most notably the “naked dress,” which took over Hollywood by storm with garments made of seemingly see-through fabrics and cut-out panels, detailed with fur or sparkles and highlighted at the red carpet.
Four of Mackie’s originals adorn Cher-lookalike mannequins at the Behringer-Crawford Museum. His outfits drew inspiration from Las Vegas, where he once designed costumes for shows at the Riviera. They are flashy, yet sophisticated and bare skin in a seductive, yet elegant, manner. Crossing the line into either category could be easy to do, yet somehow, they sit perfectly in the middle. Mackie’s ability to create this kind of costume again and again and have none of them look quite the same alludes to his genius.
The new display goes hand-in-hand with Cher’s upcoming stop in Cincinnati April 7 as part of the nationwide “Here We Go Again Tour” at the Heritage Bank Center. Her resounding vocals and undeniable musical talent that earned her title as the “Goddess of Pop” remain strong at 73 years old.
The Behringer-Crawford Museum will hold various beading workshops for visitors in honor of its new exhibit, as well as a Karaoke-Costume Contest April 3 that encourages guests to dress as Sonny and Cher for exciting prizes and a throw-back tribute to the pop legend.