Obsessions

Tales from the Arrowsmith Archives. Cher Goes Solo

The lens of Clive Arrowsmith has seen it all. He is a photographic legend and something of a fashion troubadour. We continue our journey into the Arrowsmith Archives with Clive’s recollection of shooting the queen of glamour: Cher.

Words and Photography
CLIVE ARROWSMITH

Cher’s look in Sonny and Cher was that of a very cute, approachable American College girl as they were on Ready! Steady! Go! in the sixties. When Cher walked into the studio just of the Kings Road in London in the mid-70s, her hair cascaded onto her shoulders in a  way that reminded me off Charles the 1st in a Van Dyk portrait. Not that she looked like Charles the 1st, just that she had the most incredible mane of hair. She arrived with her own LA showbiz spangled wardrobe and entourage, so I chose to photograph her first in a flowing white shirt (very Charles the 1st coincidentally) to see her in a simpler and classic way.

"Reflecting on these photographs now, the way that she moved and held herself with such great composure it was clear that she would become a superstar."

I loved Cher’s naturally striking looks. There was and still is no one like her, her achievements are incredible. It was as if something about her had really changed as a solo artist and that she had become a ‘Glamazon’ in her own right. ‘Glamazons’ a funny word I know. but it just sums up how much had really changed about her now she was working on her own. Reflecting on these photographs now, the way that she moved and held herself with such great composure it was clear that she would become a superstar. I was not surprised that she not only continued to have a great career as a singer but also that she went on to have such an incredible career as an award-winning accomplished actress.

I loved her in her star-spangled Hollywood dress, she had the most beautiful figure. I did not need to tell her to do anything she just stood in that statuesque pose, looking directly at the camera and I knew I’d captured her perfectly. One of the things about some successful people is that they are not always the best company but Cher was very amenable, funny and great to be around. When she left I felt there was some kind vacuum and as I looked at the polaroids as the crew was packing up, I wished we’d had more time to take more pictures.