Cher on When Oscar Fashion Didn't Play It Safe

Cher Oscars 1998 - P 2013
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Cher Oscars 1998 - P 2013

The iconic performer talks with THR about her Academy Awards outfits: "I thought we were in show business."

This story first appeared in the March 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

It turns out Cher -- pop star, provocateur, Oscar-winning actress -- definitely knew what she was doing when she strutted (no, owned) the red carpets the years she attended the Academy Awards in those theatrical, controversial Bob Mackie creations. What other Oscar outfits do we remember better, or at all? Her flamboyant feathers, beads and bare midriff are the stuff of legend. When fashion pundits and trade pubs like WWD bemoan the lack of creativity on Oscar night, it often is followed by a sigh of nostalgia for the heady, fearless days of Cher.

Her Oscar outfits ("I was dressing to go to work -- presenting is work," she explains) from the 1970s to her most recent gig in 2000 did not have to face today's critical cacophony of the Internet, but even if they did, "I would do exactly what I wanted to, no matter what." Sighs Cher: "I mean, I thought we were in show business. People can say I dressed like a fool, I don't have good taste. It's not about good or bad clothes; it's about freedom. People in our business do things that are out of the ordinary, so why seek approval? God knows every one of them has enough money to wear what they want!"

PHOTOS: Cher's Colorful Oscar Fashion History

Reminding her that many actresses get paid a hundred grand or more to wear major-but-often-bland European couture makes her laugh. "Good on 'em," says the superstar, who will appear in April as a guest programmer on TCM for a new Friday night show, Women in Film.

Decades before designers, media and stylists held sway over what A-listers wore -- when it was cooler to make a statement than to avoid the worst-dressed list -- Cher reigned on a less conventional red carpet. "I remember men in velvet, even color. I would think young women now would want to get crazier. Of course, I came from the music world," recalls Cher, whose dating history, including David Geffen and younger man Rob Camilletti, raised as many eyebrows as how little she wore. "You know what I say? If you want to look the same as everyone else, you should be going to the Seatback Convention -- not the Oscars."

The diva gives details on her Oscar fashion history here.