Cher: The Dark Lady’s Wardrobe

Em Poncia dives into the eccentric wardrobe of the multi-talented and forever iconic Cher.

From the inception of her illustrious career, Cher has been known for her outlandish and dazzling style. Throughout the decades, it is clear that she has struck the perfect balance between of-the-moment trends and her own uniqueness, culminating in an iconic fashion oeuvre.

The decade of flower power and bohemianism was the one during which Cher burst onto the music scene. Her debut album All I Really Want to Do reached number 16 on the Billboard 200. She was known for her matching outfits with then-husband Sonny Bono, with whom she released several songs. One 1968 portrait session had the two posed in fur jackets, and they often matched one another in public.

Whatever Cher did, she did over the top. As well as winning multiple music awards, including the Billboard icon award, she was a TV and film star. She had The Sonny and Cher Show with her husband for a whole decade, as well as winning an Oscar for her acting in Moonstruck in 1986.

This theme of excess spilled over into her wardrobe, showcasing some of the most outlandish fashion moments of the 20th century, whether that was at award shows or in portrait sessions that took place in her own home.

Cher arrived to the 1974 Met Gala dazzling in a sheer gown where the only covering offered were small sequins in traversing patterns, with sleeves and legs that billowed into plumes of white feathers at the end.

This look defined the Met Gala that year, inspiring the ‘naked gown’ trend of decades later, most famously seen on Kim Kardashian in 2022.

Throughout her career, Cher worked very closely with designer Bob Mackie, whom she had met on the set of The Carol Burnett Show, when she appeared as a guest. Mackie’s very flamboyant style matched Cher’s, and he designed many of her most iconic outfits, including the naked gown.

This cut-out dress (above) from 1972 was worn for an at-home portrait session whilst Sonny and Cher was on air. It is a complex design with bold patterns, a long train, and daring cut outs that displayed Cher’s statuesque long torso. Cher’s iconic hoop earrings and high ponytail that cascaded down her back were also features.

Mackie designed this black sequin look (below) with a matching feather headdress which was also incredibly over-the-top. Worn to collect her Oscar in 1986, the daring outfit featured a fully bared midriff and matching crop top and skirt with zig-zag edges in sparkly black. The top had a lattice detail seen on the singer/actress’s choker as well. The whole look was topped off by a large feather headdress.

Cher herself said that she wore the outfit to hit back at the Academy members who did not take her seriously.

At 71 years old, Cher took to the stage at the Billboard Awards in a sheer jumpsuit over lingerie, replicating her 2010 VMA look (above). These two outfits “turned back time” to what is possibly Cher’s most iconic song: “If I Could Turn Back Time”.

In the video for this number one hit of 1989, Cher wore a similar look. She even donned a large black curly wig at the award shows to mirror the original outfit.

The outfit, condemned by military personnel, was daring when Cher wore it at 42; her rewearing it at 71 reflected her bold and non-conformist approach to fashion.

Cher is, among all things, an icon. Her fashion sense is but an extension of her over-the-top and uniquely Cher approach to life. It seemed as if she saw dressing herself as an artform, never missing an opportunity to be avant-garde and entirely new.

She once said, “I’ve never compromised who I am, not ever. If I’ve gotten anywhere in life it’s been on my own merits.”

To read more of Em’s work, go to her twitter @emponcia.

Images via Instagram @Cher and via respective record companies.

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