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Mackie glitters eternal

Legenday celeb designer doles out words of wisdom

HOLLYWOOD — Showbiz’s sultan of sequins can’t help but throw the glitter around. Especially when indoctrinating students in his signature style.

Last week, wannabe fashionistas at the Otis School of Fashion Design held their breath when Bob Mackie, a man synonymous with flashy star getups in the ’80s, arrived to critique their work at a master class.

Though Mackie arrived conservatively dressed in a polo shirt and plaid sweater, his sparkley side quickly appeared. While inspecting one of the projects, Mackie quipped, “are you gonna do any little glitter on the pants?”

Mackie has mentored the school’s seniors for 23 years, teaching the importance of research, sketches and, of course, embellishment. This semester’s theme was Old West, and at last week’s critique, he and assistant Courtney Estrada — a former Otis student — mixed and matched boots, gloves, feathers and furs to the Native American- and cowboy-inspired pieces.

Mackie chose the year’s Old West theme because “it’s done so badly, so often.”

He relishes students’ enthusiasm, explaining: “They’re not jaded. They just draw it and jump in … and then they suffer,” Mackie chuckled.

This semester’s gowns will be auctioned off during the school’s scholarship benefit May 7. Though each design was researched and created by the students, each gown looks distinctly Mackie.

Mackie, who became famous by designing for Carol Burnett, Liza Minnelli and Cher, is putting together a book of his collections from the last 30 years. He still whips up daring outfits for Cher’s farewell tours.

Mackie’s biggest challenge last week was finding the right shade of turquoise to use around a bison’s head to be attached to the back of a gown. It was a serious matter, Mackie told the student. “If you lose your horns, you’re going to lose a lot.”