‘Have I made fashion mis­takes? Of course I have’

The Daily Telegraph - - News Review & Features -

Dress­ing your age? A good idea for mere mor­tals, per­haps, but a laugh­able no­tion for a global megas­tar. “I had this idea that when you got to be a cer­tain age, some­how, ev­ery­thing would change,” ex­plains 71-year-old Cher, “and you would just go, OK, I’m just go­ing to go into muumuus [smocks] or some­thing. I had this idea, and my friends did too – and I have friends of all ages, I have re­ally young ones and I have, well, there’s no­body older than me ex­cept my mother. And it just didn’t hap­pen – we all are wear­ing pretty much the same things we al­ways wore.”

Of course, when you’re Cher, re­vis­it­ing a favourite out­fit doesn’t go un­no­ticed. In May, per­form­ing If I Could Turn Back Time on stage at the Bill­board Mu­sic Awards in Las Ve­gas, the sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian wore a black body­suit with sheer mesh pan­els – a nearly iden­ti­cal ver­sion of the one she wore to per­form the song when it first came out in 1989. In both in­stances, she paired it with a black leather jacket and knee-high boots. “You know, you never leave some­thing. I have this jacket, a leather jacket, that I love, and I’ve had for a long time, and I said, you know, I’m gonna wear this leather jacket un­til I can’t get into it any more. I’ve got a T-shirt that I got in the Seven­ties that I still wear.

“I think that the gen­er­a­tion be­fore ours just felt that at some point they had to dress in a dif­fer­ent way, maybe more la­dy­like, or maybe cut their hair for some un­known rea­son that I still haven’t been able to fig­ure out. I mean, you can’t wear ev­ery­thing that you wore when you were 40 when you get older, but I think if you can wear it, you should. If you can’t, then stop.”

It is this youth­ful ex­u­ber­ance and re­fusal to kow­tow to ex­pec­ta­tions of how a sev­en­tysome­thing should be­have that makes Cher so, well, Cher.

As well as her pen­chant for skin-tight leo­tards, she is an ac­tive Twit­ter user, post­ing to her 3.5mil­lion fol­low­ers on ev­ery­thing from pic­tures of her swanky Ve­gas pad to her dis­ap­proval of President Trump. Her pop­u­lar­ity on the mi­croblog­ging site has reached such heights that Buz­zfeed cel­e­brated 100 of Cher’s Best Tweets in 2016 last year.

Cher has starred in films, on Broad­way, in her own TV show. It is her mu­si­cal ca­reer, though, that has earned her the most loyal fans. The word icon is far too eas­ily used, but in this case, it is en­tirely ac­cu­rate.

Her con­tralto voice is in­stantly recog­nis­able, but it is not just the voice – it is never just the voice – with Cher. Her long-run­ning part­ner­ship with cos­tu­mier Bob Mackie has spawned out­fits that are still be­ing hailed by fashion de­sign­ers decades later; she keeps her flam­boy­ant pieces in a “cli­mate con­trolled area so they don’t fall apart. There are cos­tumes [from] the Sonny and Cher Show, on the Cher Show, or on cer­tain tours; there are things that you just love, and even if you don’t wear them again, some­times you give them to char­ity.”

There are cer­tain out­fits she can’t bear to part with, how­ever, but had a change of heart at the last minute. “You think, maybe some peo­ple would like to see them,” she says by way of ex­pla­na­tion.

There’s no doubt that her most no­table looks, from her sheer feath­ered jump­suit at the 1974 Met Gala to her beaded head­piece that graced the front of her

1979 Prisoner al­bum cover, would make for a wor­thy fashion ret­ro­spec­tive at the V&A.

In­deed her looks have sparked nu­mer­ous fancy-dress cos­tumes,

TV skits, drag acts. But with icon status comes a huge amount of ex­pec­ta­tion from her le­gions of fans.

“I’m not so sure if it’s to im­press,” she muses, “I think it’s to not dis­ap­point. To make peo­ple feel in­ter­ested and good. That’s why I dress up, and the rea­son I don’t mind, or that I ac­tu­ally en­joy, dress­ing up to go to a pre­miere, or on stage. I would just be bored to sobs if I had to just go around like this all the time, I think what works for me is a bal­ance.”

She in­sists that she doesn’t opt for barely-there mesh or flam­boy­ant head­gear when off duty, when she’s “not glam­orous at all! Mostly I wear leg­gings and sweat­shirts, ratty old clothes: I don’t care very much when I’m just not do­ing any­thing. I’m ex­treme in both ways, but it seems to work out.”

Her lat­est turn is as the star of Gap’s new cam­paign, “Meet Me in the Gap”, along­side rap­per Fu­ture. The Amer­i­can brand is well known for pro­mot­ing di­ver­sity, in­clu­sion and ac­cep­tance, mak­ing Cher a nat­u­ral fit.

Her son, Chaz Bono, came out as a les­bian in the Nineties and an­nounced he was trans­gen­der in 2009 and she con­tin­ues to back the LGBT com­mu­nity, with an en­tire Wikipedia page ded­i­cated to “Cher as a gay icon”. The Gap video sees Cher and Fu­ture col­lab­o­rate on Sly and the Fam­ily Stone’s 1969 hit Ev­ery­day Peo­ple: it seeks to prove what can be achieved when peo­ple em­brace their com­mon ground. “That song is very timely,” agrees Cher, who reg­u­larly tweets about pol­i­tics, adding: “I thought all this stuff [po­lit­i­cal un­rest] would be over by now.”

She was also keen to col­lab­o­rate with some­one she knew lit­tle about – the pair “got along re­ally well, and he was fun, and cute. I don’t re­ally know his mu­sic all that well, but it was in­ter­est­ing to work with him.”

For a woman whose style has res­onated with gen­er­a­tions, and is now reach­ing an­other thanks to Gap, which sees her try the brand’s sta­ple denim jacket, white T and jeans, she doesn’t take her sar­to­rial legacy as se­ri­ously as you might think.

Has she made fashion mis­takes? “Oh God, yeah, I’m sure I have. Of course I have. But you know what? So it lasts for a sec­ond and then it’s gone. It’s not a big deal. I hon­estly think that look­ing good is more im­por­tant than look­ing fash­ion­able.”

There is no doubt­ing that Cher is happy ins her own skin, as the pic­tures she posts of her­self decked in lace bodices and tow­er­ing heels at­test. “I pretty much dress for my­self, and I just wear what I like,” she says with Cher-like con­fi­dence. “You are who you are, and I don’t see the rea­son to change who you are.”

‘Look­ing good is more im­por­tant than look­ing fash­ion­able’

Watch the Meet Me in the Gap au­tumn cam­paign at

Be­lieve: at 71, Cher, the star of Gap’s lat­est cam­paign, says she dresses how she wants; right, at Wem­b­ley, 1990; at this year’s Bill­board Mu­sic Awards, be­low

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