Written by Kristin Larson
CHICAGO – Bob Mackie said he's "surprised and delighted" to receive the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum's Designer of Excellence Award.
"It's very amazing. Chicago is one of those places where when I was in the business of selling evening gowns, they were hugely receptive. Lots of hospitality," Mackie said in a telephone interview while en route to the museum.
Mackie, who has dressed everyone from Judy Garland and Carol Bernett to Diana Ross, Cher and Rihanna, was quite modest about his longstanding career and being recognized by the museum.
"It's nice that people know you're still alive. I go to work everyday and I do my job. I don't think about it," said the designer, 77, who will accept the award Tuesday evening at a museum reception that will also feature a conversation with Hal Rubenstein.
"I was really surprised and delighted that they cared," Mackie said. "I love coming back to Chicago. It's a lot of fun. The city looks entirely different."
Fresh out of college, the young Mackie's first job was at Paramount Studios in L.A., where he worked as a sketch artist with designers Jean Louis and Edith Head. He then worked on "The Judy Garland Show," "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour."
"I was planning to come to New York and hit Broadway by storm. Instead I got a job in L.A. at Paramount Studios. There was an opening and I was at the top of the list. So I got the job," Mackie recalled.
Coinciding with the museum award, Saks Fifth Avenue is featuring a selection of couture Bob Mackie designs, located in the foyer of the Fifth Avenue Club at the Saks on Michigan Avenue. The designer is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of his fragrance "Mackie" and has released a limited-edition bottle, $100, to celebrate the milestone. Purchase here.