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LOS ANGELES — What would happen if Jessica Simpson channeled Cher? On April 11 ABC will air “The Nick and Jessica Variety Show” which, with some 17 costume changes, provides the newlyweds ample opportunity to dress up as an assortment of gypsies, tramps and thieves. “I did a modern-day Sonny and Cher with a lot more MTV flavor,” says Deborah Waknin, Simpson’s stylist of four years. “We didn’t have the budget to pay Bob Mackie, but I tried to go into it with that vision and spirit.”

Designers can’t get enough of Simpson these days, and the list of those who were happy to lend their looks includes Versace, Marc Bouwer, Elie Saab, Peter Som, Chloé, Betsey Johnson and Juicy Couture. Waknin also borrowed from Disney’s extensive vintage archives.

This story first appeared in the March 29, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I couldn’t wait to put on each outfit,” Simpson admits. “I wanted to be very fashion-forward in a fabulous Cher way, and I got to go a little over the top.” Whether she’s teaming with husband, Nick Lachey, a rabbit puppet or Jewel, Simpson works her looks to the hilt. And who knows? The special may evolve into a regular show. Waknin says she wouldn’t mind. “We hit it off like a house on fire,” she says of her first meeting with Simpson, which was brokered by then-Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola. “And FYI: She’s a lot smarter than people think.”

— Marcy Medina

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