November 15, 2021

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Frank Vlastnik ’87 is co-author of the very first comprehensive and authorized showcase of the life and work of fashion designer Bob Mackie, The art of Bob Mackie.

For nearly six decades, Bob Mackie has designed clothes and apparel for some of the world’s biggest stars including: Cher, Carol Burnett, Bette Midler, P! Nk, Tina Turner, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury, Diana Ross, Beyoncé, RuPaul and Madonna. The art of Bob Mackie includes a preface by Carol Burnett and an afterword by Cher.

From designs such as Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, to Carol Burnett’s “Went with the Wind” rod dress, to Cher’s stunning look at the 1986 Oscars, Mackie’s designs remain. relevant.

“I design for people who dare to stand out,“Mackie says.

His unique designs have appeared on Broadway stages, television screens, catwalks and red carpets around the world. Throughout his career, Mackie’s genius has been recognized in many forms, including a Tony Award, nine Emmy Awards, three Oscar nominations, and the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

The two-and-a-half-year project began at a jazz club in New York City. Vlastnik co-author Laura Ross was sitting next to Mackie when she pitched the idea. During their conversation, it was revealed that Mackie was a fan of Vlastnik’s book. Broadway musicals, who kicked off their relationship before they met in Los Angeles in February 2019.

As the very first fully licensed exploration of Mackie’s work, the book features hundreds of photographs and sketches, some of which have never been seen by the public.

“The first time I walked into Bob’s studio, I felt like little Charlie Bucket was winning the Golden Ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s factory,” Vlastnik said. “There isn’t a single inch of wall space that isn’t covered, and every time Bob opened one of the many drawers where he literally stores thousands of sketches, something dazzling would emerge. The visual stimulation was therefore uninterrupted.

Even after thinking he saw it all, Vlastnik said Mackie would suddenly stumble upon or mention designs he made, and Vlastnik would beg his editor to add more pages to the showcase. The art of Bob Mackie celebrates these never-before-seen works and shares Mackie’s personal memories and muses. Mackie’s perspective makes it a must read for anyone interested in the lavish world of fashion and design, said Vlastnik.

While at the Illinois Wesleyan, Vlastnik studied drama at the School of Theater Arts. His senior year, then head of the drama department, Clair Myers, told Vlastnik: “Don’t limit yourself to playing the part. I also suspect that you might be a writer or a director. After graduation, Vlastnik received the Larry Shue Memorial Award.

“Larry was a brilliant playwright and actor, and he planted a seed around the time that, although I intended to make a living as a performer, the door was always open to explore other avenues. , like writing, ”Vlastnik said.

The art of Bob Mackie, released on November 16, 2021, is now available for pre-order online.

By Kailee Galloway ’23