LIVE FOR THE APPLAUSE
BY CAROLINE TULLY
She’s turned more heads and dropped more jaws than any other celebrity. She turns the red carpet into a stage, walking into a performance, and fashion into a character. Lady Gaga is an icon in more ways than one. Her creative visions have helped break our idea of what fashion looks like, and consistently one-ups her own looks.
Her debut in the pop culture and fashion worlds began in 2008 with her album “The Fame” which encapsulated her idea of “pop burlesque.” Her early red carpet and concert looks consisted of black sequin lingerie, platform heels, fishnets, and big black sunglasses. At the onset of her career, Lady Gaga has shown us her promiscuous and bold personality.
Prior to 2010, most high fashion houses and high fashion editorial stylists rarely worked with musicians. However, Nicola Formichetti, Gaga’s former stylist, took fascination in her despite receiving backlash from colleagues. Together, they created fashion campaigns, music videos, and red carpet looks which inspired many to fuse fashion and music. Many artists followed in Gaga’s footsteps and soon after, began to collaborate with high end designers to create show stopping runway looks including Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. Now, we can’t imagine a world where fashion and music are not fused together.
Lady Gaga has gifted the fashion world with dozens of pieces that have broken the limits of fashion. At the 2011 Grammys, she lived inside of an egg-shaped vessel for three days and was carried on the carpet by dancers draped in nude latex. She commented that at this time, she didn’t want to interact with others because it had a negative impact on her performance, and felt that this performance reflected her dedication to her craft. Her passion for her art, in music and fashion, has always been unmatched.
However, her iconic looks would not be as popular as they are without the controversy they created. Her 2010 MTV Music Awards outfit known as “the meat dress” which consisted of a dress, purse, headpiece, and heels made completely out of raw meat caused outrage from many communities including animal rights groups. However, much of the public is unaware that this outfit was Gaga's protest of the United States' military "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding homosexuality. “If you were willing to die for your country, what does it matter how you identify?” Gaga claims, when interviewed about the infamous meat dress. This is a true testimony to Lady Gaga’s character and the ways in which she has inspired us to stay true to ourselves. Her hit song “Born This Way” is reflective of her life’s mission to make the world a more accepting, loving place for all and has been an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community.
A pivotal moment in the fashion industry from more recent years comes from Gaga’s 2019 Met Gala “Camp: Notes on Fashion” looks. Her four-outfit reveal was a 20 minute performance on the steps of the Met. She started with a large hot pink caped gown which was taken off to reveal a black strapless dress with a black umbrella. She took it a step further by revealing a third hot pink satin column gown. To top it all off, she revealed her final outfit to be none other than a sequined black bra, fish nets, and stilettos: an ode to the look she donned at the beginning of her career. Gaga commented that this performance art was indicative of her early career and “an elevated modern progression of where she used to be.” As co-chair of this event, she was able to highlight camp culture and the creativity, flexibility, and excitement that comes along with it.
Throughout her time in the spotlight, Lady Gaga has transformed the world’s perception of fashion as truly being an art form. Fashion extends far beyond day-to-day looks, and Gaga reminds us that fashion does not need to be functional. From album covers to award ceremonies, she is constantly striving to create a look that reflects her passion and artistry. With the progression of her career, Gaga’s looks have evolved to reflect the current project she is working on and inspire conversation. Above all, we praise her for showing us all the power that comes with being unapologetically ourselves. Thank you, Lady Gaga.