By  on September 4, 2008

At 62, Cher is still going strong, now in a Las Vegas show complete with 17 new costumes.

Cher's couture announces her entrance onstage in a way that no other performer’s can. Her outrageous ensembles, designed since 1967 by Bob Mackie, are the very definition of a fashion calling card.

Fortunately for designer and artist, “Cher at the Colosseum,” the diva’s new show currently running at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, is an extravaganza that leaves itself wide open to innovation, screaming “It’s Vegas, baby” all the way.

“Everything is new about this show,” Cher says. “There’s nothing you know, there’s nothing from the old show, and we’re able to do things that we’ve never been able to do. We’re able to have technology that we’ve never had before, we’re able to put on a bigger show — more dancers, more aerialists and more costume changes.… If you can dream it, if you can think it up, you can do it.”

For Mackie, the new spectacular simply means that the beat goes on. In this instance, however, he’s had to challenge himself to be more over-the-top than ever.

“Cher said to me, ‘Doesn’t every performer want these kinds of clothes to perform in?’” Mackie laughs. “I replied, ‘No, they’re not clothes — they’re getups.’”

Cher’s penchant for the outrageous is exactly the element that, as always, made it fun for Mackie, despite the fact that having to get all 17 costumes for the show designed and made in one month was “very stress-related.” Needless to say, coming up with a final garment required a thought process between diva and designer that was Cher and Cher-alike.

“It’s her taste, her fans, her idea of what her fans expect them to be,” Mackie says about the costumes. “They love her outfits. Every time she changes clothes, it brings a huge response. It’s a lot of fantasy dressing. But she’s so down-to-earth and real that she can be all dressed up as an Egyptian goddess and be talking to the audience like she’s on a street corner in her jeans and little T-shirt. There has never been anyone like her. Most performers couldn’t handle it. It takes a certain kind of ease to not be intimidated by your clothes.”

According to Mackie, other things such as the songs Cher sings and their order, the era she’s portraying, the mood of a vignette, the script and lighting were all taken into account in the designing process. For the song “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” she comes out as an American Indian princess wearing a full-length head-to-floor headdress made up of multicolored feathers and a camel-colored suede fringed dress and matching boots. For “The Beat Goes On,” she wears a red sequined minidress, matching high red boots and a feather boa.

The background dancers’ costumes were also coordinated with hers. To that avail, Mackie met with Hugh Durant, who worked on the show from England and is the background designer.

“Cher has a look that has come and gone and come back again,” Mackie says. “And she’s a drag queen’s dream. But I’m glad this couldn’t happen with everybody. It’s nice sometimes to design a beautiful gown and have someone come out and sing a beautiful song as opposed to having three acts of Carmen in one woman.”

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