Among the diamond-dipped divas who traipse the red carpet, Cher — oh, she of the sideboob, Moonstruck, and shimmering sheer gowns — is as much a rebel as she is a Hollywood legend. With her resident costumer Bob Mackie, whom she met on the set of The Carol Burnett Show in 1967, she coined a look that was somehow both extravagant, dripping in sequins and glitter, but barely there. With her midriff-baring costumes on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, she was one of the first stars to show her bellybutton on television, causing quite a stir in the 1970s press; and today, she continues to push the envelope by starring in blockbusters (like the 2018 jukebox musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) and influence seminal 21st Century fashion moments (did anyone catch Rihanna at the 2014 CFDA Awards?).
With the December premiere of The Cher Show on Broadway, Bob Mackie was tapped as the head costume designer to reimagine many of the duo’s boundary-breaking fashion moments. And on that note, we’ve rounded up 13 of our favorite Cher looks from across the decades.
Cher met Sonny in 1962, and the duo sang background for notorious producer Phil Spector on the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and the Righteous Brothers’ hit “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’” before topping the Hot 100 with their devotional ballad “I Got You Babe.” The world met the young couple in fringe, fur vests, bell bottoms, and long hair (daring at a time when beehive ’dos were the style).
By the mid-’70s, Cher was queen of the bare midriff. For the 46th Academy Awards she brought her beach bod, with minimal coverage from a Bob Mackie-designed watercolor bralette, sarong, and a choker to match. Even her nails and eye shadow were perfectly in sync with the muted palette.
Bob Mackie dressed everyone from Diana Ross to Elton John, and two of his favorite mannequins, Cher and Tina Turner, appeared on Cher’s eponymous television program in 1975 in glittering, fringe dresses for a duet of “Shame, Shame, Shame.” “I love when people are really good entertainers and they’ve got it all figured out,” says Mackie. “They know their costumes really enhance what they’re doing, whether it be a character, a song, a number, or whatever.”
In 2015, Kim Kardashian West announced to Instagram — and to Cher herself — that the Roberto Cavalli gown she wore to the Met Gala that year was inspired by this feathered “naked dress” Cher wore to the same event 41 years prior, rolling up to the party with the dress’s designer Bob Mackie on her arm. She outfit-repeated in 1975 when she rocked the dress on the cover of TIME.
If we could turn back time, it’d be tough to argue that Queen Elizabeth I wore a dramatic collar better than Cher in this Mackie-made costume for The Sonny & Cher Show. Bob Mackie was the lead costumer for the program, which ran from 1976 to 1977 following Sonny and Cher’s divorce. When asked if any costumes stood out as favorites, Mackie struggles to pick one. “That’s hard to say,” he says. “Here we’re talking about thousands of costumes. Even on her weekly television shows, there would be up to 20 sometimes, 25 changes. Nowadays, these pictures of these outfits come up online and you go, ‘Oh, I know I did that, but I don’t even remember doing it!’”
The Mackie-designed beaded black two-piece and plumed headdress Cher wore to the Oscars in 1986 were something of a clap-back after being snubbed for her role in Mask, for which she won at Cannes for Best Actress. The outfit has since gone down in Hollywood lore, oft repeated by drag queen impersonators like Chad Michaels, who replicated the look for the Snatch Game win in season four of Rupaul’s Drag Race.