The beauty industry has a tradition of celebrating the Next Big Thing, but this month, MAC Cosmetics is taking a different view and celebrating the concept of staying power. In that spirit, the brand has collaborated with the one and only Cher for its new campaign, #ChallengeAccepted, which invites fans to put their MAC products to the test. The idea is that MAC is all about outlasting and outperforming the competition by staying true to who you are.
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“I liked that this campaign wasn’t about a product—it was for a concept,” Cher, who appears alongside Saweetie in the campaign, says. “It’s a challenge to be different and be appreciated. It’s fabulous that people are learning to appreciate and love other people for the way they look. A lot of time, it has to be in the zeitgeist before people can understand it. That was what was wrong with me in the beginning. I didn’t look like other people.”
Cher recalls working with her good friend, the late fashion photographer Richard Avedon, earlier in her career. “He once told me, ‘You’ll never be on the cover of a fashion magazine.’ I was taken aback. I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because you have dark hair and brown eyes.’”
At the time, most cover models had blonde hair and blue eyes, she says. Soon enough, Cher did land the cover of some of the biggest magazines, but one in particular wasn’t the big win she thought it would be. “I just looked like … I don’t know who. I looked generic.”
One area where Cher was in control of her image, however: the red carpet. Her Bob Mackie–designed ensembles are the stuff of Oscars legend. She pioneered the idea of bringing “a look,” but at the expense of taking potshots in a pre-Twitter society. Her most misunderstood outfit?
“The night I went to the Academy Awards with a big, black, feathered Mohawk,” she says. “Some people thought I was crazy. Some people thought it was amazing. Jane [Fonda] was like, ‘Oh, Cher, this is the best.’ But a lot of people thought I was disrespectful. That you couldn’t be a serious actress and dress in a way that was, I don’t know, unbecoming.”
She continues, “It was my way of saying, ‘Oh, yeah? This is who I am, and you’ll just have to get used to it.’”
Cher admits that her style has evolved over the years. A total makeup lover, she shares that she has learned to love a bare face also. “I loved my face when I painted it,” she says. “I didn’t realize I was kind of cute when I didn’t. After a while, I realized I had to be happy both ways. Otherwise, you waste a lot of time.”
Now at 75, how does she feel about age in a youth-obsessed culture? She says she doesn’t really think about age. “This is going to sound crazy, but when the COVID booster shots came out, I was saying, ‘Oh, my God, all those old people better get the boosters.’ Hah! I just forgot [that I was a candidate]. That’s the way I think.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.