HomeLifestyleThe designer who put Tina Turner in those hemlines

The designer who put Tina Turner in those hemlines

The cardinal rule of thumb for dressing Tina Turner, designer and costume designer Bob Mackie said Wednesday night, was “you couldn’t cover anything up.”

Her legs were just “too beautiful.”

Mr. Mackie, 84 and working in wardrobe for Pink’s upcoming tour, met Ms. Turner in the 1970s when she was a guest on the “Sonny & Cher Show.”

She dropped out of college and early in her career worked for the famous costume designer Edith Head. From there, Mr. Mackie went off on his own, designing costumes for stars like Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and then Cher.

He and Mrs Turner met towards the end of her marriage to Ike Turner, the man she abused for some 20 years, before she walked away in nothing more than a white, blood-stained Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit, two Jaguars and His last name. (Even that, Mr. Turner tried to take away in court.)

She had been spending time in Europe (where she later moved) and since there was not much of a budget, Mackie said, “she would go to the Left Bank and buy cheap cocktail dresses, bring them over and say ‘Will you help me with this? He didn’t know what he was referring to, but then he would put them on and I would bring the scissors.

The Turner/Mackie meaning of “more” soon became clear: less fabric.

Mr. Mackie also began designing her resplendent dresses in red and gold, with stretched flames covering her nipples. He knew the idea was a hit when other celebrities began requesting dresses that resembled the ones he was creating for Ms. Turner.

“I got a call from Raquel Welch. She said, “I want a dress like the one Tina Turner would wear.” She had never really designed for Raquel Welch. I said, ‘I’d love to do that.’ A couple of weeks later, Tina calls me and says, ‘I just saw Racquel Welch in a dress that I would love to have.’ And I had to laugh,” she said, speaking by phone from her Palm Springs home. “So I told him everything. Tina thought she was cool. She loved that those women paid attention to her and what she was wearing.”

The group of women included Cher, who in 1977 performed with Mrs. Turner on the “Sonny and Cher Show”, doing a rendition of “Makin’ Music Is My Business”, wearing matching red and gold dresses.

“It just worked,” she said, describing how Cher and Ms. Turner “vibed with each other”.

But the seven-year period between the breakdown of Ms. Turner’s marriage and the 1984 release of her hit album “Private Dancer” was not easy. She “She was going from one variety show to another, trying to stay away from Ike, really hiding. It was a scary time,” Mackie said.

It was also the era of Studio 54 and Paradise Garage, and Ms. Turner covered Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.” So for his performances, many at slightly cheesy hotels with casinos, Mr. Mackie made a shimmering silver gown with pleated wings the size of a Targaryen dragon.

Another Mackie confection was a zebra print dress with a train in the back.

Initially, the idea of ​​adding the tail made Ms Turner “a little nervous,” she said. (And indeed, it’s hard to imagine that sort of thing being approved by anyone now.) But the tail was “great,” she said, the way it swayed from side to side as she swayed her hips.

When Ms. Turner turned to rock ‘n’ roll in the early ’80s, Mr. Mackie was ready with black leather.

Between the video for “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and opening a slot for The Rolling Stones on tour, he became a global superstar.

Although Mr. Mackie helped create Tina Turner’s look, she wasn’t exclusive to him.

In 1985, she performed with Mick Jagger at Live Aid, wearing a leather bustier and miniskirt designed by Azzedine Alaïa, a dear friend of Ms Turner’s, who was sometimes referred to in fashion circles as the King of Cling. . (Mr. Jagger eventually ripped off his skirt. Which Ms. Turner took in stride, saying later that it was all part of her game sense.)

In 1989, Ms. Turner did the photo shoot for the cover of the “Foreign Affair” album in a dark, form-fitting Alaïa dress that barely reached her upper thighs. In a single shot, she could be seen hanging from the Eiffel Tower, clutching the iron frame of it, as if she were strutting around it. And the way Ms. Turner and photographer Peter Lindbergh later recounted that that was her idea.

Never mind the absence of a safety net or Mrs. Turner’s refusal to remove her heels. As Mr. Mackie pointed out, a defining trait of her personality was her bravery.

In the years that followed, she toured relentlessly and appeared in fashion shows for Mr. Alaïa. (One of the reasons Ms. Turner moved to Europe, she later said, was that it was the place where she was as “big as Madonna”). And when Mr. Mackie was in the same town, they would have dinner.

Sometimes Mrs. Turner and Mr. Mackie were together because he was working on costumes for one of his tours. She was also a clothesline in her own right. She would often arrive at work “dressed to the nines in simple loafers and gabardine pants,” she said. Then, she would rehearse in full costume, becoming “every other woman,” only to show up to dinner in another outfit.

In 2005, Mr. Mackie gifted Beyoncé with a flaming red dress for her tribute to Ms. Turner at the Kennedy Center Honors. Ms. Turner sat on the balcony, smiling as Beyoncé gave a rendition of “Proud Mary.” (Mrs. Turner wore a beaded floral gown that was more demure than her stage costumes.)

Mr. Mackie also worked with Ms. Turner on her 2008 tour, which was billed as the 50th anniversary of her career and as a farewell tour.

After it ended, he began to experience health complications and spent more time in Europe.

Mr. Mackie said he hadn’t seen her in years.

One of his last memories of her was in rehearsal for the 2008-9 tour. Toni Basil had been hired as the choreographer, but here was Ms. Turner, coaching all the dancers on how to do the moves just as she did. “There was nothing like watching Tina Turner give girls a class on how to be Tina Turner,” she said.

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