The Designer Who Put Tina Turner in These Hemlines
The cardinal rule of dressing Tina Turner, the designer and costumer Bob Mackie mentioned Wednesday evening, was “you couldn’t cowl something up.”
Her legs had been merely “too lovely.”
Mr. Mackie, 84 and dealing on costumes for Pink’s upcoming tour, met Ms. Turner within the Seventies when she was a visitor on the “Sonny & Cher Present.”
He was a school dropout who early in his profession labored for the famed costume designer Edith Head. From there, Mr. Mackie went out on his personal, designing costumes for stars equivalent to Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett after which Cher.
He and Ms. Turner acquired to know one another towards the tip of her marriage to Ike Turner, the person whose abuse she suffered for round 20 years, earlier than she walked away with nothing however a white, bloodstained Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit, two Jaguars and her final identify. (Even that, Mr. Turner tried to remove from her in court docket.)
She had been spending time in Europe (the place she later moved) and, as a result of there wasn’t a lot of a finances, Mr. Mackie mentioned, “she would go to the Left Financial institution and purchase cheap cocktail clothes, deliver them in and say ‘Will you assist me with these?’ I didn’t know what she meant, however then she would step into them and I might deliver the scissors.”
The Turner/Mackie which means of “extra” quickly turned clear: much less cloth.
Mr. Mackie additionally started designing shimmering clothes for her in crimson and gold, with stretching flames that lined her nipples. He knew the concept was successful when different celebrities started requesting clothes that regarded like those he was creating for Ms. Turner.
“I acquired a name from Raquel Welch. She mentioned, ‘I desire a gown like Tina Turner would put on.’ I had by no means actually designed for Raquel Welch. I mentioned, ‘I’d love to do this.’ A pair weeks later Tina calls me, and she or he says, ‘I simply noticed Racquel Welch sporting a gown I’d like to have.’ And I needed to snigger,” he mentioned, talking by telephone from his house in Palm Springs. “So I instructed her the entire thing. Tina thought it was nice. She liked that these ladies had been taking note of her and what she wore.”
The group of girls included Cher, who in 1977 carried out with Ms. Turner on the “Sonny and Cher Present,” doing a rendition of “Makin’ Music Is My Enterprise,” in matching crimson and gold clothes.
“It simply labored,” he mentioned, describing how Cher and Ms. Turner “vibrated off one another.”
However the seven-year stretch between the breakup of Ms. Turner’s marriage and the 1984 launch of her hit album “Personal Dancer” was not straightforward. “She was going from selection present to selection present, making an attempt to avoid Ike, hiding actually. It was a scary time,” Mr. Mackie mentioned.
It was additionally the period of Studio 54 and Paradise Storage, and Ms. Turner lined the Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.” So, for her performances — many at barely tacky resorts with casinos — Mr. Mackie made a shimmering silver robe with pleated, Targaryen dragon-wide wings.
One other Mackie confection was a zebra print gown with a tail on the again.
Initially, the concept of including the tail made Ms. Turner “just a little nervous,” he mentioned. (And certainly, it’s laborious to think about that kind of factor being accredited by anybody now). However the tail was “nice,” he mentioned, the way in which it swung back and forth as she swayed her hips.
When Ms. Turner pivoted to rock ’n’ roll within the early ’80s, Mr. Mackie was prepared with the black leather-based.
Between the video for “What’s Love Received to Do With It,” and a slot opening for The Rolling Stones on tour, she was a world celebrity.
Though Mr. Mackie helped create the Tina Turner look, she was not unique to him.
In 1985, she carried out with Mick Jagger on Reside Assist, sporting a leather-based bustier and miniskirt designed by Azzedine Alaïa, an expensive buddy of Ms. Turner who was typically referred to in vogue circles because the King of Cling. (Mr. Jagger finally ripped the skirt off. Which Ms. Turner took in stride, saying later that it was all a part of his sense of play.)
In 1989, Ms. Turner did the quilt shoot for the album “Overseas Affair” sporting a darkish, fitted Alaïa gown that hardly reached the highest of her thighs. In a single shot, she may very well be seen hanging from the Eiffel Tower, gripping its iron construction, as if strutting up it. And the way in which Ms. Turner in addition to the photographer Peter Lindbergh later instructed recounted, that was her thought.
By no means thoughts the absence of a security internet or Ms. Turner’s refusal to take off her heels. As Mr. Mackie famous, a defining trait of her character was fearlessness.
Within the coming years, she toured relentlessly and appeared in vogue exhibits for Mr. Alaïa. (One purpose Ms. Turner moved to Europe, she later mentioned, was that it was the place the place she was as “massive as Madonna.”) And when Mr. Mackie was in the identical metropolis, they might have dinner.
Typically, Ms. Turner and Mr. Mackie had been collectively as a result of he was engaged on costumes for one in every of her excursions. She was a clotheshorse in her personal proper, too. She typically arrived to work “dressed to the nines in easy loafers and gaberdine pants,” he mentioned. Then, she would rehearse in full costume, changing into “a complete ’nother lady,” solely to point out as much as dinner sporting yet one more outfit.
In 2005, Mr. Mackie provided Beyoncé with a flaming crimson gown for her tribute to Ms. Turner on the Kennedy Heart Honors. Ms. Turner sat within the balcony, smiling down as Beyoncé did a rendition of “Proud Mary.” (Ms. Turner was sporting a beaded floral robe that was extra demure than her stage costumes.)
Mr. Mackie additionally labored with Ms. Turner on her 2008 tour, which was billed each as a fiftieth anniversary of her profession — and a farewell tour.
After it ended, she started to expertise well being issues and spent extra time in Europe.
Mr. Mackie mentioned he hadn’t seen her in years.
Certainly one of his final reminiscences of her was again in rehearsal for the 2008-9 tour. Toni Basil had been employed because the choreographer, however there was Ms. Turner, teaching all of the dancers on how you can do the strikes simply as she did. “There was nothing like watching Tina Turner give a category to the ladies on how you can be Tina Turner,” he mentioned.