In Custom Bob Mackie At 1983 UJA Woman Of The Year Honor

Barbra Streisand wore this stunning custom Bob Mackie gown to accept her UJA Woman Of The Year award on Nov 1, 1983. The award was presented to Barbra by Walter Yentikoff, Coretta Scott King and Pierre Trudeau.

Photo ©Walter McBride

The event took place at the Sheraton Center Hotel in New York City. Barbra was also photographed that night with Johnny Mathis who was in attendance and performed. 

Photos ©Walter McBride

The UJA Federation Of New York (United Jewish Appeal) is the world’s largest local philanthropy. The organization was created in January 1939 as a leg of the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City. During this time the UJA provided relief for European Jews trapped in war, helped Jews living in pre-state Palestine, and assisted with Jewish immigration from Germany to other countries.

In 1986 UJA and the Federation merged to create UJA-Federation of New York. They continue to do amazing work, providing poor New Yorkers free legal services, mental health counseling, meals, and elderly care. They also have provided response to recent crisis, including forming a 9/11 United Services Group and raising over $15 million for Hurricane Katrina and Sandy relief. 

The Bob Mackie gown that Barbra wore for this occasion was fit for a Queen. This ornate piece was inspired late 17th/early 18th-Century fashion which is known for opulence, corsets, rich embroidery and full skirts.

The two piece look consists of a detachable cape which is made from pale gold taffeta. Gathering encircles the entire neckline, creating a voluminous puffed sleeve effect. The cape is gathered again on both sides beneath two large hand embroidered appliqués featuring gold metallic thread, sequins and bugle beaded fringe. Another incredible detail about this cape is the attention to the inside hem which features sheer organdy double ruffled edging. 

The construction of the matching gown is breathtaking. The structured pointed bodice has nine panels and a deep V shaped waistline with piping. Mackie’s legendary beadwork covers the front panel, winds its way across the scoop neckline, edges the shoulders and continues as a mirrored pattern on the two back panels. Between this is an invisible zipper with a hook with and eye closure.

Elbow length sleeves feature light gathering at the shoulder and are embroidered with beadwork continuing the pattern of the bodice. Each sleeve is trimmed in endless beaded fringe. The skirt of the gown is fully gathered and is supported by four thick under-layers of tulle and organdy.

Photos ©Robin Platzer

The focal point of this area is another exquisite V-shaped area of beadwork dripping with more beaded fringe. To me, this detail evokes a non traditional robe à l’anglaise esthetic. This look was paired with a choker which was custom made to match the gown and a Gibson Girl updo. 

Photos from the LIFE Picture Collection

The gown and cape sold at auction in 2004 for $6,500.00 

Photos from The LIFE Picture Collection
Photos from the LIFE picture collection and by Ron Galella
Photos ©Walter McBride
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