When Cher first appeared on TV—a 25-year-old sylph cracking wise in spangly couture alongside her shorter, older, mustachioed husband—millions of people watched her every week, the kind of market share that’s basically inconceivable 51 years later. “Sonny and I didn’t know what fame was until Sonny & Cher became a hit,” she says. It was a rocket ship that left her in a different stratosphere as a mononymous multi-hyphenate, an Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar winner, and a fashion icon. Today it has also made her the star of the new Ugg FEEL ____ campaign. (Quoth the brand, “Being an icon is about having the freedom and courage to explore your own journey and individuality, Cher is globally renowned for the bold and unapologetic way she lives her life, something Ugg has always related to.”) For the campaign she filmed a short video that shows her wearing Ugg boots and doing iconically Cher things around her Malibu estate: talking to her mom on the phone, watching movies in her home cinema, taking in the unobstructed sunset from an elaborate wicker throne, and consulting her cat. “I’ve spent a lifetime with people either loving me or hating me,” she says in the video. “And I mean, you want to be loved, but finally it’s like, fuck it.”
She’s not wrong about the opinions. When you have an interview scheduled with Cher, all anyone you meet in the weeks beforehand wants to talk to you about is Cher. A designer at a cocktail party confides that “like 90% of red carpets now are people just trying to do what Cher did 40 years ago.” Your Uber driver is thrilled. “Cher’s Armenian!” (So is he.) A school friend goes into rhapsodies over her performances in Moonstruck, Silkwood, and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! A guy you play tennis with wants to talk about her influence on drag, and on *Drag Race—*specifically, he wants to know her thoughts on Cher: The Unauthorized Rusical.
Compilations of her Sonny & Cher and The Cher Show comedy riffs and you-go-girl quips boomerang around the internet, going viral every other month or so. You can recite them easily: “Can I hear a little commotion for the dress?”; “Men are not a necessity… they’re a luxury, like dessert”; “Mom, I am a rich man.” The new West Side Story comes out and guess what? Cher already did her own one-woman 12 minute version in 1978 on her Cher…Special. If it’s Halloween, forget it, you’re going to be drowning in hot girl Chers from every era: taut tawny tummies, glittery crop top and trouser sets; furry vests and bell bottoms; fishnet body stockings, sequins galore. The only real constant is the consistent, instantly recognizable attitude. The attitude is what makes an icon.
The day of the Ugg shoot, Cher’s Malibu dream house (“built for Cher by Cher,” one of her two managers says) is a sea of fire hydrant sized floral arrangements. Upstairs in her white linen and carved rosewood bedroom, Cher is loath to define her current personal style. “Oh babe, I don’t know,” she says. “I know what it’s been. I have things that I’ve had in my wardrobe for 30 years. The other night I was wearing my black bondage pants, and I’ve had those since I don’t know, Granny Takes a Trip,” the 1960s London boutique beloved by rock stars like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and the Rolling Stones. “I don’t remember how long I’ve had them, that’s how long I’ve had them.” Cher advises shopping your closet. “If you keep certain things, then you can bring them back, and if they’re good and they’re interesting, you can put them all together.”