Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Princess of Power

Halloween is my favorite holiday of all.  There's is nothing like it.  Last year in particular was one of the most fun Halloweens ever!  Not only do I enjoy myself celebrating the holiday but I also enjoy preparing for the day itself.  My boyfriend and I brainstormed about what duo we could dress as and we finally settled on Super Mario and his lady-friend Princess Toadstool (I was the princess since he called Mario in lightning speed).  Being that I'm an overachiever I couldn't settle with just recreating the character.  I had to redesign the beloved friends pushing them to the hilt.  I also had to bare in mind that they still had to be recognizable.

The fun thing about Princess Toadstool is just that.  She's a PRINCESS!  Just admit it... everyone secretly wants to dress like a princess.  Even for just one day.

Above is the working sketch of the jacket/vest combo for my princess outfit.  I wanted a turn of the century fiddle back with over sized puffed sleeves and lapels to match the over sized skirt.

Bringing this character to life was one of the most enjoyable things I have gotten to do in a long time.  It was truly wonderful to see her through from the sketch to the finished product.  I have had the opportunity to make a couple of wedding gowns and prom dresses but nothing compares to the sheer scale of this gown.  From the hoop skirt to the complex over skirt and the elaborate jacket, this ensemble had a lot of love and work put into it.  I relished every moment and look forward to topping it this year.

-Philip Estrada

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cee Lo-berache

Cee-lo Green's new video for "I Want You" was released yesterday.  The video was filmed at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.  It also features six dancers from the Bob Mackie designed revue "Jubilee" which runs nightly at Bally's.  It's so wonderful to see the ladies working their Mackie duds behind one of today's biggest stars.  It'd be awesome if Cee-Lo performed a few special shows with Jubilee!  He could wear his wonderful Liberache inspired costumes.

- Philip Estrada

Friday, May 27, 2011

A New Kind of Love

Since this weekend is a holiday I wanted to share with you a beautiful sketch to set the tone.  Mr. Mackie did a lot of costume illustration for many studio costume designers including this one for Edith Head.  This illustration was for one of the showgirls in the movie "A New Kind Of Love" (1963).  I love this sketch!  Bob Mackie must have been using this opportunity to hone his craft for when Vegas would be tapping him for Jubilee in 1979.

It was actually a couple of sketches from "A New Kind of Love" that allowed me to meet Mr. Mackie, I'll be forever greatful to Eva Gabor.  See Story Here.

I hope everyone enjoys the sketch, and their weekend!

- Philip Estrada

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cher is Taking It Home

Take me home
Back home is where I want to be
Wrapped in your arms so tight
Just making love... 

Cher is amazing and always will be.  One can't think of Cher without thinking of Bob Mackie and the vice/versa.  I would like to take a moment to share with you some sweet sweet Cher/Mackie action.

Here is the cover for the "Take Me Home" album released by Cher along with the costume illustration. 

One of the many things that I love about Mr. Mackie's work is that the final product looks just like illustrations.  I love the challenge of making the finished ensemble reflect the original design as much as possible.  I thrive on that spur of the moment problem solving, as well as those times when I have to stand back and scratch my head.  It is pure bliss when the solutions to problems hit you like a ton of bricks.  It would be wonderful to work along side Bob Mackie, and I would relish the challenge of interpreting his visions into finished works of art! 

- Philip Estrada

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Birthday CHER!


Today is your birthday CHER!  Bob Mackie's original muse.  He's always stated that dressing you was the bee's knees.  According to Mr. Mackie, and I'm paraphrasing, "She is tall and slender and could wear anything."  Your 40 year collaboration with Mackie has produced many moments we will never forget, even if we tried.  See also, Academy Awards and "Turn Back Time".

I hope you have a wonderful birthday Miss Cher!  Slip into your favorite Mackie and raise a glass of champagne to another wonderful year!  If you can put in a good word with Bob Mackie for me that'd be much appreciated.  I know you have a new album in the works and he's gonna need extra hands when you come in for your fittings.  THANKS!

-Philip Estrada 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Backstage Tour or Lara the Showgirl Makes A Dream Come True

Since I had such a wonderful time in Las Vegas I will continue to blather on and on about it.  Glad that you're on board, and that we see eye to eye on this subject.  One of the most amazing things about Vegas, besides my boyfriend taking the casino for more than $300 at Blackjack, was Jubilee!  I know I spoke about going to the show earlier, but now I must share with you the wonder that is The Backstage Tour. 

We never did make it to that buffet.

Let me set the scene for you guys.  Ryan and I landed in Las Vegas at 10am.  The back stage tour begins at 11am.  We had ONE HOUR to get off the plane, take a tram to baggage claim, meet my friend Kathleen at our luggage carosel (who was waiting for us there), get our luggage, grab a cab and high-tail it over to Bally's Casino, check our luggage at the bell desk and pick up the tickets at Will Call.  We all, walking as fast as possible, waltzed into the Jubilee Theater at Bally's at 11:02am.  That HAS to be some sort of record!

Notice how my Mackie shirt rides up on me... time to make a new one!

We met our guide, the statuesque Showgirl Lara.  She was sporting a sequined and rhinestudded jacket with a matching derby hat, dancers tap shorts and flesh tone fishnets.  All very Judy Garland a la "Come on Get Happy."  Luckily I wore my sequin Mackie t-shirt otherwise I would have been wearing the outfit.  That would have been SUPER awkward.

The tour began ominously enough with an injury wavier.  This was in case we fell down some stairs or had a brain aneurysm from all that sweet sweet Mackie goodness we were about to be relishing in.  

Lara told us in detail about the show's history and some background information on Don Arden, Jubilee's creator.  It was pretty interesting.  It was really nice to hear a performer speak about the show.  You could hear the respect for the show and it's history in her tone and the way she spoke.  You could also tell that she enjoyed her job and felt honored to be part of such a rich tradition.

When Lara brought us downstairs my face was in permanent smile mode.  The hairs on my arms were standing on end... the Mackies were close by.  I could feel it!  Every time she pulled a curtain or opened a door to reveal the costumes I gasped.  Which in turn caused the other patrons of the tour to giggle.  I couldn't contain myself I was so excited to see such amazing work up close and personal.

Lara explained that they couldn't allow photos to be taken backstage, down in the costume shop or the dressing rooms.  This was to ensure that their trade secrets wouldn't fall into the hands of the enemy who is hell bent on destroying all things glamorous.

At the beginning of the tour I causally mentioned to Lara that it was my 30th birthday and if she needed someone to try on a headdress that I was her man.  Near the end of the tour she took us into the Feather Room.  This room was like waking up in some sort of dream.  The Feather Room housed most of the finale costumes.  All 4 walls were covered in over-the-top Bob Mackie designs. 

Backstage photos from the Las Vegas Sun

These amazing costumes were more like wearable sculptures than clothing.  I doubt designs like these will ever be duplicated in any other way.  A Las Vegas showgirl revue would be the only setting where these mammoth creations can live and thrive for the 30 years that these have.  Lara told us about the finale and how it was referred to as a "Jewel Box" because each grouping of costumes represented a different gem.  She also presented a couple to us and told us about each costume or headdress' nickname.  Names like "Asparagus", "Water Fountain", and "Mohawk" which inspired Cher's infamous Oscar outfit.

And then Lara turned to me with the Mohawk in her hands.  "Would you like to try it on?"  Suddenly my heart began to race, my palms got clammy, and I blurted out a "Yes!" all the while trying not to soil myself.  I knelt down so Lara could place that work of art on my head and she warned me it would crush my coif.  I responded, "I don't care!  Crush my skull!"  I just wanted it to fit.  It wasn't a perfect fit but it definitely did the job.  

 Lara encouraged me to "stand like a showgirl" when we got that bad boy balanced on my skull

I felt so honored to be wearing such a masterwork.  Luckily we were allowed to take this picture.  After I took off my headdress (I'm claiming it as mine now) my heart was racing and I was giddy like a little kid seeing Santa.  It was amazing!  I am so jealous of the girls who get to wear these amazing costumes twice nightly!

The tour was awesome.  I was awestruck the entire time.  Seeing the costumes on stage was a treat but seeing them inches from your face was breathtaking.  My eyes were opened up to see how much effort was put into the costumes and how much work is still being done to keep them looking that good.  The backstage experience could only have have been enhanced if one of the costume staff was there to speak about their role.  I have a feeling that they share in Lara's joy for the show and respect for its legacy.

Lara was such a wonderful tour guide.  The next night when we watched the show an usher came up and dropped a souvenir program off at our table saying, "The ladies wanted to make sure you got this."  It was signed "Happy 30th Birthday.  Love Lara and the cast of Jubilee."  It was amazingly thoughtful!  My grin widened even more.  A classy lady.  They don't make them like that anymore.

This proves how awesome showgirls are, and how designing for showgirls has be one of the most exciting projects.  They are such wonderful dream-like goddesses.  I would love to be able to work on something so beautiful.  Jubilee! has changed my view on design and has inspired me to push all of my designing to that level.  Next up... HALLOWEEN!

-Philip Estrada

Friday, May 13, 2011

Supremely Mackie

It's Friday... THANK GOD!  Blogger has been giving everyone the business all week so I'm gonna go easy on you today.  Enjoy a video I posted earlier of Diana Ross and the Supremes working it out on some numbers from Porgy and Bess.  I am also including the sketch for that WORK-alicious Bob Mackie gowns they are wearing.  ENJOY!

-Philip Estrada

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jubilee... Jubilee... JUBILEEEEE!!

It finally happened!!
I felt like Indiana Jones entering the room that held the Jeweled Bob Mackie Holy Grail.  I made my way through the main entrance of Bally's Casino with my support team, Ryan and Kathleen.  Kathleen is the history expert which comes in handy when hieroglyphics need deciphering.  Ryan is known simply as "The Face".  His beauty and charisma comes in handy when dealing with the locals.  The dust cleared and the Jubilee Theater came into focus in the distance.

 Me rocking my Rat Pack inspired copper lamé tuxedo jacket.
I made it specifically for the event.  
(Photo courtesy of Ryan)

The show was simply astounding!  There are really no other words to describe it.  The three of us had a table in the second row.  We were pretty "baller" that night.  The curtain went up and we will never be the same again.  The pounds of feathers, rhinestones and sequins were sparkling as if freshly shined.  The girls in their 35 pound headdresses and jeweled bikinis whizzed around the stage in a dizzying fashion. 

There were points of the show that Kathleen identified as "Sensory Overload".  She informed me that this was the ancient phenomenon when a costume designer, choreographer, lighting designer, and dancer aligned perfectly.  At that precise moment it triggers your brain to release mass quantities of serotonin causing a dreamy euphoric state.  (I may have made this up, but it sounds pretty good, right?)

 Jubilee! is an amazing show.  This type of over-the-top showgirl revue doesn't exist anymore even in Las Vegas!  I felt like we walked through a time portal back to the heyday of Sin City.  It would not have surprised me if Dean Martin was sitting at the next table sipping a Martini.  He may not have been there in body, but I have a feeling he was there in spirit. 

  In the opening number the girls were raised from below the stage.  
The mirror showed us them from above first and was particularly thrilling!

The high kicks were given in liberal doses and much appreciated!

All the topless dancers were assigned individualized headgear.
 Show photos from the Las Vegas Sun

EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS SHOW!  It will change your life!

Kathleen and I posing in front of the theater after the show.
(Photo from Ryan) 

In summation the show was AMAZING!  Mr. Mackie is a genius and has inspired me EVEN more.  All the designs I have stewing in my brain just got "Jubilee-ified" as I call it.  I wanted to take home all the headdresses and backpacks to watch Friday night TV in.  I've been having fantasies of setting my apartment on fire and starting a new life in Vegas.  I could work for Jubilee's costume shop my new name would be Steven St. Stephan from Back Swamp North Carolina.  Alas the reality is I can't do that.

I took the back stage tour the day before and OH the stories I have from that.  I will leave that for another day.

- Philip Estrada
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