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Guide to the Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work, 1945-1998

Collection Overview

Repository

Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier

KA.0105.01

Creator

Mackintosh, Robert G.

Title

Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work, 1945-1998

Extent

18.4 linear ft: 4 boxes, 9 oversize boxes, 2 oversize folders

Language of Materials note

English

Summary

Robert Mackintosh (1925-1998) was a costume and fashion designer whose design career spanned forty years and twenty Broadway productions. He made his Broadway debut designing costumes for the 1952 musical Wish You Were Here and went on to design costumes for both on and off-Broadway productions. In the 1960s, Mackintosh branched out into womenswear design with Musette, a juniors label, which was sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. He went on to design various other womens and menswear lines in the 1970s. The bulk of the collection consits of costume sketches, technical sheets, and swatches from theatrical productions, including  The Last Minstrel Show, and  Mame. Also included are clippings, fashion publicity, and promotional photographs, as well as approximately 150 women's fashion sketches, and nine menswear sketches.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work, KA.0105.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical note

Robert Mackintosh was a native New Yorker born in 1925. He is best known for his costumes for Broadway, but also designed for film, television, and nightclubs. Later in his career, he made a successful foray into fashion design as well.

According to his New York Times obituary, Mackintosh studied at Parsons School of Design before beginning his career as a costume designer. A 1983 article featured in  Women's Wear Daily states that Mackintosh graduated from the Pratt Institute. While his early life and the details of his educational background remain unclear, it seems likely that Mackintosh studied art or design at a New York City institution before his career took off in the early 1950s.

Mackintosh was only twenty-one when his work attracted the attention of actress Lena Horne, who hired him to design her stage costumes. At twenty-seven, his costumes debuted on Broadway in the 1952 musical Wish You Were Here. He designed costumes for several other Broadway shows, including  Gypsy,  The Boy Friend,  How Now, Dow Jones, and  Silk Stockings. He worked with a number of Hollywood stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, and Barbra Streisand. A career high point came in 1966, when he designed the costumes for the Broadway hit  Mame, including twenty-seven costume changes for Angela Lansbury. Lansbury garnered a Tony Award for her performance and Mackintosh won first place in the  Variety New York Drama Critics Poll for best costumes. He also designed costumes for the 1983 revival of the production, as well as offstage garments for Lansbury.

Mackintosh was also an active fashion designer in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1965, he began designing the junior petites line, Musette, for teenage girls. Bergdorf Goodman was quick to pick up the collection and place it in their Bigi shop (the sixth floor department for girls thirteen- to eighteen-years-old). In the 1970s he went on to design womenswear for Paul Rogers. Sketches in the collection suggest he also designed menswear during this period.

Mackintosh continued to create costumes in his later years, predominantly for off-Broadway shows. A 1995 feature article reveals that he was hard at work designing costumes for his thirty-first musical, Swingtime Canteen.

Robert Mackintosh died in Manhattan in 1998.

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Scope and Content of Collection

The Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work is comprised of clippings, advertisements, programs, photographs, swatches, costume technical sheets, and approximately 400 fashion and costume sketches (original ink and gouache, and reproductions). The material spans the late 1940s until 1998, chronicling almost the entirety of Mackintosh's career, and documenting his work for Broadway and off-Broadway productions, as well as unidentified productions. Not every production he was associated with is represented here. The collection also includes fashion design sketches from around 1965 through the 1970s. It is unclear if Mackintosh continued to design fashion after the seventies, because none of the sketches are dated. His costume work continued into the 1990s. Many of his sketches are signed.

The contents of this collection showcase Mackintosh's professional life, and contain no personal materials. Newspaper images feature Mackintosh at work in the studio and at social events.

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Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 4 series:

  1. Biographical clippings and ephemera, 1950-1997
  2. Costume design, 1945-1998
  3. Fashion design, circa 1960s-1970s
  4. Fashion publicity, 1966-1979

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Administrative Information

Hillary Hummel, 2012.

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives - August 24, 2012

66 5th Ave./
lobby level
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work, KA.0105.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Initial gift donated by Gladys Bourdain, Robert Mackintosh's niece, in 2009. Three additional accretions by Bourdain in 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Genre(s)

  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Drawings.
  • Fashion illustrations (layout features).

Occupation(s)

  • Costume designers.
  • Fashion designers.

Subject(s)

  • Costume design.
  • Fashion design.
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.

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Collection Inventory

I. Biographical clippings and ephemera 1950-1997 

This series is comprised of newspaper clippings of interviews, feature stories, and columns from a variety of publications including The New York World-Telegram and Sun,  Women's Wear Daily, and  The New York Times. The articles discuss Robert Mackintosh's work on Broadway, as well as his career crossover from costume designer to fashion designer in the mid-1960s. This series includes images of Mackintosh at work in the atelier and at social events, alongside photographs of Broadway stars in Mackintosh-designed ensembles, and men's and women's costume sketches for various Broadway and off-Broadway productions.

Box Folder
General, 1956-1983 
OSx-1 1
OSxx-1 1
Clippings scrapbook pages, 1966-1995 

Predominantly documents Mackintosh's costume design work for Mame and his Seventh Avenue design work.

OSx-2 7
Costume design, 1950-1997 
1 2
4 8
OSx-1 2
Fashion design, 1965-1975 
1 3
OSx-1 3
Photographs of Mackintosh, 1960s 
1 1
The Schiaparelli Circus, undated 

Original print not by Mackintosh.

3 8

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II. Costume design 1945-1998 

Materials in files range from programs, to annotated costume sketches with swatches, to technical sheets specifying act, costume details and actor. Some productions are more heavily documented than others. This series is not a definitive record of every production Mackintosh worked on. Some productions are unaccounted for in his papers.

The productions are arranged chronologically with designs for unidentified productions preceding.

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Box Folder
Programs, 1945-1998, undated 

Consists of small bound or single leaf programs covering Mackintosh's earliest costume design work, including those for Donn Arden's nightclub musical revues. Larger format programs and ephemera may be found with individual productions.

2 12-13
Unidentified, undated 

These unidentified sketches may depict fashion and not costume designs.

4 1
OSx-1 12-16
OSxx-2 1-5
Unidentified [possibly for Lena Horne], possibly 1956 

Processing archivists could not definitively identify these sketches as commissions for Lena Horne.

OSxx-1 2-3
Aladdin, undated 
OSxx-1 4
3 Pieces for the Blues (George Bunt Ballet), undated 
3 9
Paris, France (Hugh Martin), 1949 

It is unclear if Paris, France refers to the title of a production.

2 14
OSx-1 17
Lena Horne, 1953-1956 

Ten photographic prints depicting five different gowns, photographed by Barry Kramer as worn by Lena Horne, and an issue of Hue magazine including an illustrated article featuring Mackintosh.

2 17
Mr. Wonderful, 1956 
OSxx-3 1
Silk Stockings [contains program only], 1955 
4 10
Jamaica, 1957 

This production is not listed in Mackintosh's CV, and he is not identified in the the Internet Broadway Database as the costume designer for the Broadway run of this production.

OSxx-3 2-3
Marilyn Monroe as..., 1958 

Series of three posters depicting Marilyn Monroe in period costume as silent film stars Theda Bara, Clara Bow, and Lillian Russell. The costumes were designed by Mackintosh (uncredited) and photographed in color by Richard Avedon. Posters are signed by Avedon. Distributed by Andrew Grenshaw, Ltd. Attribution by donor. Sources indicate that this was originally a series of five images commissioned by Life magazine. The Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow posters are missing from the set.

Map Case H 3
Calamity Jane, 1963 
OSxx-3 4
Hotel Passionato, 1965 
OSx-2 3
Mame, 1966-1983 

Includes programs and sketches for multiple productions.

1 13-20
2 1-2
4 9
OSx-2 4-6
OSxx-5 4
The Fig Leaves Are Falling, 1966-1969 
1 4-8
OSxx-4 1
Gypsy, 1973-1974 
4 9
OSxx-4 2-3
Miss Moffat, 1974 
4 9
OSxx-5 1-5
The Last Minstrel Show, 1978 
1 9-12
OSxx-6 1-3
Spotlight [contains program only], 1978 
4 10
Bye Bye Birdie [touring production], 1992 
2 18
4 10
k_OSxxx-8 3
OSxx-7 1-4
Home Fires, 1992 
4 6
Bring in the Morning, 1994 
4 2-5
A Tuna Christmas, 1995 
2 16
4 10
Swingtime Canteen, 1995 
2 15
3 16
Applause, 1996 
3 10-14
Grace and Glorie, 1996 
OSx-2 1
The Shattering, 1996 
4 7
The Green Heart, 1997 
OSx-2 2

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III. Fashion design circa 1960s-1970s 

This series is comprised of approximately 150 fashion sketches, primarily black and white sketches of womenswear, but also a handful of menswear sketches. A small number of sketches are rendered in color. Newspaper clippings in the collection reveal that Mackintosh designed womenswear sold under the name Musette in the 1960s, and went on to design for the Paul Rogers company in the 1970s. Musette was designed for teenagers and the clothes had a distinctly youthful sixties appeal. The understated elegance of the Paul Rogers collection was directed at a more mature clientele. The majority of the womenswear sketches are unidentified, and these are classified here by garment type. Some of the sketches includes swatches.

Box Folder
Menswear, probably 1970s 
OSx-1 4
Musette, probably late 1960s 
3 1
Paul Rogers, probably 1970s 
2 3
3 2
Womenswear, circa late 1960s-1970s 

Sketches, many with swatches, depict blouses, dresses, eveningwear, suits and outerwear.

2 4-6
3 3-6
OSx-1 5-10

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IV. Fashion publicity 1966-1979 

This series primarily consists of print advertising from newspapers, magazines, and catalogs. Also included are promotional photographs of models and department stores windows (in color and black and white). The publicity's content determined its placement in one of three categories: General, Musette, or Paul Rogers. General includes all publicity that was not for Musette or Paul Rogers. Much of the general publicity consists of advertisements for unidentified clothing, presumably designed by Mackintosh.

Of note is a series of advertisements for Musette sold in the Bigi (6th floor juniors) department at Bergdorf Goodman. The print advertistments, which ran between 1966 and 1968, depict a fictional teenager named Bigi wearing a variety of Musette clothing.

More...

Box Folder
General, 1969-1979 
2 7
OSxx-7 5
Musette, 1966-1975 

Includes photographs of display windows (circa 1967-1968), Bigi advertisements, and etc.

2 8-10
OSx-1 11
OSxx-7 6
Paul Rogers, 1974-1977 
2 11
3 7
OSxx-7 7

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 02/28/2017

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