She's wearing purple glow-in-the-dark leotards, purple nylon parachute pants, purple leg warmers, moroccan boots, a tacky reversible red satin Japanese baseball jacket with huge embroided tigers on the back, a white headband . . .
"I don't remember a time when people didn't notice me," says Cher, sitting crosslegged with her feet tucked under her in her hotel room.
Cher, of course, has always gone to extremes with her clothes. In the early 1960s, she and Sonny Bono were wearing bell-bottom jeans, fur vests, and moccasins long before others thought of being hippie or dressing that way.
And when others did, Cher was well into her guru number in cotton gauze and sandals.
Now, especially for stage appearances, it's a super sexy look: Halters and cut-outs, fringes and slits. In her show, she makes nine changes (with the help of two dressers). Each costume is glittery, and body-revealing. All fit her definition of sexy: "You should think you can see everything, but shouldn't be able to see anything."
Usually, she likes attention. She says she'll be walking along a street and "a lot of times people don't know it's me and they say - loud enough for me to hear - how ridiculous I look. Then they recognize me and say, 'Oh, I should have known it was Cher.'"
She laughs and kind of likes that idea.
"I don't care about being stylish. I think it's bizarre to want to look like everyone else. The object is to look like yourself."
The man responsible for the current Cher look is California designer Bob Mackie. Cher first wore a glamor number by Mackie on the Carol Burnett show in 1968.
"I said then that if I ever had enough money I'd have him make all my clothes," she says. Now she has, and Mackie has made most of her stage attire since 1971.
He charges $4,000 to $5,000 an outfit and discusses with her the "feeling of each theatrical number before he starts to design.
Mackie is not responsible for the jeans and sweat shirt Cher sometimes changes into to relax. The favorite jeans are a seven-year-old cowboy, button-fly, straight-leg pair.
Anything she buys she doctors up with her won individual treatment, she says.Recently, she bought a pair of baggy pants that she knotted at the hem. You'd never know they were the same pants.
Her lawyers and business reps have noticed this knack and are close to a deal for her to design active sportswear. She'll provide the concepts, designers will turn those concepts into clothes.
Meanwhile, Cher's not sure when she'll move on to her next costume phase. It's likely to be futuristic, though, "with cleaner lines, like long tube dresses."
Eventually, she says, it may resolve with long flowing Grecian or Roman-style dresses and robes.
Cher is a flowing robe?
It's a little hard to imagine. CAPTION: Illustration, Bob Mackie's costume designs for Cher