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Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work

Identifier: KA-0105-01


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. 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 consists 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.


  • 1945 - 1998



9.6 Cubic Feet (4 boxes, 9 oversize boxes, 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials


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.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact 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:

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.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 4 series: 1. Biographical clippings and ephemera; 2. Costume design; 3. Fashion design; 4. Fashion publicity

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.

Guide to the Robert Mackintosh costume and fashion design work
Hillary Hummel
August 24, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • June 29, 2016: New School Archives staff revised to reflect incorporation of additional accretions.
  • June 20, 2019: New School Archives staff revised to correct previously misindentified costume designs.