When you think of Hollywood legends, Bette Midler certainly comes to mind. The singer-actor, who has been gracing Hollywood screens since the 1970s, has enjoyed a successful career filled with many iconic roles (including Hocus Pocus’s Winifred Sanderson, a spooky season classic). So, it was only natural that Vogue would call up the A-lister to look back on some of her favorite moments. In a new “Life in Looks” video, the star reflects on her best style moments over the years—whether on the red carpet, in films, or on the Broadway stage.
Midler began by looking back on some of her favorite film costumes over the years. Highlights included 1988’s Beaches, in which she wore “big, bold looks. Some of those costumes were my own,” says Midler. “And some of them I went to a thrift shop in Santa Monica and bought—and they were actually Cher’s old wardrobe.” The actor also has a soft spot for the witchy wears she sported in 1993’s Hocus Pocus (costumed by Mary E. Vogt). But did you know that she actually came up with her own hair and makeup? “I told my hair and makeup people that I wanted to look like the red queen in Alice and Wonderland,” says Midler. “I designed that make-up myself, and I was very proud of it.” She went on to share that wigs have proven to be especially important for her getting into character, no matter the project. “Every time I start a new picture, I start with the hair,” says Midler. “If I don’t have the hair right, I don’t have the character.”
Speaking of getting into character: Midler is also the queen of Halloween. She’s pulled off many epic costumes over the years, when she’s hosted parties through her New York Restoration Project, which cleans up parks in underserved New York communities. “I did 25 years of Halloween parties,” says Midler. “I’ve tried everything.” One of her all-time favorite costumes was in 2008, when she attended as a bloodied chef. “I got a black eye the night before the gala, so I had to adjust [my costume],” says Midler. “I sent my husband down to the uniform store to get a chef’s outfit. I’m wearing Crocs; the Crocs really sell the idea.”
Some of her most memorable ensembles have occurred at the annual Met Gala. In 2016, she attended the Manus x Machina theme in custom Marc Jacobs. “The fabrics [with images of wheels] spoke to the [machinery] theme, and the headdress spoke to it too,” says Midler. In 2019, she attended the Camp theme with daughter Sophie Von Haselberg, both dressed in theatrical Michael Kors garb. “[Michael] wanted to do butterflies [for me] and fire for my daughter,” says Midler. Of the theme that year, Midler said it best: “Camp is an attitude, but it’s also a joyousness in the ridiculousness.”