This Red-Sequined Stunner Proves That No One Bedazzles a Gown Like Bob Mackie

The designer, who has created looks for style icons like Cher and Barbie, knows how to make a statement dress.
Red-sequined vintage Bob Mackie red gown circa 1989
Bob Mackie grape-beaded red gown, 1989

Barbie had a blockbuster year in 2023, and Margot Robbie, who starred in the Greta Gerwig film, has become a fixture on the red (sometimes pink) carpet circuit. The film’s press tour featured Robbie dressed in Barbie-inspired looks from past decades crafted by fashion luminaries like Vivienne Westwood, Versace and Schiaparelli. So, now that we’re in the thick of awards season, why not turn to the designer who made Barbie her most glamorous? For your consideration: this sparkling 1989 red beaded gown by Bob Mackie.

Cascading down the entire surface of the gown are glittering vines playfully interspersed with bunches of grapes, all rendered in red bugle beads and light-catching sequins, which pop against the sheath’s black backdrop. The classic strapless silhouette is briefly interrupted by a cluster of sparkling leaves that extend from the sweetheart neckline, a subtle touch of Mackie theatricality. The dress’s bright crimson beadwork is timeless but also happens to be the dominant color in fashion at the moment. “The gown demands attention,” says Elena Bulanek, of Texas-based Timeless Fashion Treasures, which is offering this piece on 1stDibs. “It represents the classic Hollywood style of Bob Mackie. It is fully beaded, exudes elegance and is a prize for collectors, as the design is no longer being reproduced.”

Mackie, the award-winning costume designer behind iconic ensembles worn by style legends like Cher and Diana Ross, has created looks for Barbie since 1990. His life-size garments, with their elaborate, intricate designs, are held in prestigious museum archives around the world and coveted by private collectors.

Vintage evening dresses are often mementos of special occasions or formal events — this one was worn by an attendee of the 1993 Inaugural Ball — and are useful for evoking those perennial trends that continuously cycle back into fashion. Celebrity stylists are increasingly turning to important archival pieces as alternatives to new gowns plucked straight off the runway, as evidenced by the recent awards-ceremony appearances in vintage gowns of Laverne Cox, Olivia Rodrigo and Miley Cyrus, who wore two archival Bob Mackie ensembles at the Grammys. Beyond their couture allure, these pieces have the unique ability to reflect current trends while claiming a prestige through their historical origins that new frocks simply do not yet possess.

This Mackie gown is from the designer’s California Collection: A Salute to the Napa Valley, introduced in 1989, just one year before he began his partnership with Mattel. And much like a fine Napa wine, this bold creation has aged gracefully while maintaining relevance to today’s styles. The result is intoxicating.

Loading more stories …

No more stories to load! Check out Introspective Magazine

No more stories to load! Check out Introspective Magazine