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Guide to the Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work, 1952-1995

Collection Overview

Repository
Kellen Design Archives
Creator
Mackintosh, Robert G.
Title
Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work
Extent
5.1 linear ft: 3 boxes, 1 oversize box, 7 oversize folders
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 collection consists of clippings, fashion publicity, and promotional photographs, as well as approximately 150 women's fashion sketches, and nine menswear sketches. Also included are costume sketches, technical sheets, and swatches from three theater productions, including  The Fig Leaves are Falling (1969),  The Last Minstrel Show (1978), and  Mame (1983).

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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 21 when his work attracted the attention of actress Lena Horne, who hired him to design her stage costumes. At 27, 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. Mackintosh worked with several Hollywood starlets, including Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury, and Barbra Streisand. A career highpoint came in 1966, when he designed Angela Lansbury's costumes for the Broadway hit  Mame, in which she had 27 costume changes. 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.

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 13- to 18-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 collection is comprised of clippings, advertisements, photographs, swatches, costume technical sheets, and approximately 375 fashion and costume sketches (original ink and gouache, and reproductions). The material spans the years 1952-1995, chronicling almost the entirety of Mackintosh's career. Yet, this selection offers just a glimpse of his creative output, with only two of his twenty Broadway productions, and just one of his countless off-Broadway musicals 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, 1952-1995
  2. Costume designs, 1969-1983
  3. Fashion designs, circa 1960s-1970s
  4. Fashion publicity, 1966-1979

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Administrative Information

Collection guide written by 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

Use Restrictions

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Gladys Bourdain, Robert Mackintosh's niece, in 2009.

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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

Biographical clippings, 1952-1995 

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.

Title Box Folder
General, 1956-1983  1 1
k_OSxx-6 1
OSx-1 1
Title Box Folder
Costume design, 1952-1995  1 2
OSx-1 2
Title Box Folder
Fashion design, 1967-1975  1 3
OSx-1 3

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Costume designs, 1969-1983 

This series includes twenty unidentified and unsigned costume illustrations (some with fabric swatches attached), along with sketches from the Broadway shows The Fig Leaves are Falling (1969) and  Mame (1983), and the off-Broadway production  The Last Minstrel Show (1978). The unidentified illustrations are rendered in ink and gouache on rag paper. The theater production folders consist of both original and photocopied costume sketches, fabric swatches, and technical sheets. Many of the approximately 230 sketches are annotated with numbers, costume material details, and character names. Only the  Mame folders include technical sheets with swatches that specify act, costume details, and actor. The productions are arranged chronologically.

Title Box Folder
Unidentified  k_OSxx-6 2-3
The Fig Leaves are Falling, 1969  1 4-8
The Last Minstrel Show, 1978  1 9-12
Mame, 1983 
Binder 1  1 13-16
Title Box Folder
Binder 2  1 17-20
2 1-2

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Fashion designs, 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. Newspaper advertisements for these lines have allowed some of the sketches to be identified as Musette or Paul Rogers designs, and these sketches have been organized accordingly. The majority of the womenswear sketches are unidentified, and these are classified here by garment type. Some of the sketches includes swatches.

Title Box Folder
Menswear, probably 1970s  OSx-1 4
Musette (?), probably late 1960s  3 1
Title Box Folder
Paul Rogers (?), probably 1970s  2 3
3 2
Womenswear, circa late 1960s-1970s 
Title Box Folder
Blouses  2 4
OSx-1 5
Title Box Folder
Dresses  2 5
3 3
OSx-1 6-7
Title Box Folder
Eveningwear  3 4
OSx-1 8
Title Box Folder
Outerwear  3 5
OSx-1 9
Title Box Folder
Two piece suits  2 6
3 6
OSx-1 10

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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 teenager named Bigi wearing a variety of Musette clothing.

More...

Title Box Folder
General, 1969-1979  2 7
k_OSxx-6 4
Musette, 1966-1975 
Title Box Folder
General, 1966-1975  2 8
k_OSxx-6 5
OSx-1 11
Title Box Folder
Bergdorf Goodman's Bigi advertisements, 1966-1968  2 9
k_OSxx-6 6
Promotional photographs, circa 1967-1968  2 10
Title Box Folder
Paul Rogers, 1974-1977  2 11
3 7
k_OSxx-6 7

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Collection guide Last Updated: 08/30/2012

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