In 2008, a very young talented singer named Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta arrived in Los Angeles, California to work on her first album: The Fame. Most people know her as Lady Gaga. Her authentic style with extravagant looks and talent for singing and performing made her one of the most popular artists. She has won several awards in music and acting including Grammys, MTV VMA’s, and an Oscar.
During her career, Gaga’s work and fashion have been admired, analyzed, and very often misunderstood. The truth is, there is a story and a concept behind the work that this incredible artist produces. Her work is storytelling mixed with personal experiences, emotions, and thoughts to be shared with the world.
Many of these stories are now part of the history of fashion since many of them inspired trends, designers, and other creatives across the world. Today we’ll talk about some of the most iconic red carpet looks by Lady Gaga, and the concepts behind them.
The Galactic Armani Dress at the Grammy’s 2010
The night of the 52nd ceremony of the Grammy Awards was quite remarkable for the 24-year-old Lady Gaga. The singer received five nominations and ended up winning her first two Grammy awards that night, she performed her song Poker Face at the ceremony and sang next to Elton John playing the piano on a stage full of visual effects and dancers.
Lady Gaga’s arrival to the red carpet of her first Grammy ceremony was truly iconic. The dress was designed by Giorgio Armani. Her red carpet look was covered by Swarovski crystals. With a corset and a silhouette that seems to have a galactic aesthetic, Gaga styled her dress with a yellow wig and heel-less shoes. The yellow hairstyle was fully designed by Frederic Aspiras, with the idea of bringing pop art, to real life with a pigmented yellow that was often issued in pop art to illustrate blonde women. Frederic Aspiras has been working with Gaga ever since and was in charge of many hairstyles for Gaga’s role as Patrizia in the House of Gucci.
Gaga's Alter Ego at the VMA'S 2011
The contrast between the two personas is fascinating and it’s a truly underrated acting performance in Gaga’s career. Image Courtesy of Los Angeles Times.
Lady Gaga was nominated at the VMA’s for her Born This Way album, many of the songs of this album, and the work behind it is about being your authentic self and finding liberation in ways that may look “freaky” or “extravagant” to others. After playing with several archetypes in her music videos like Marie Magdalene in Judas, an androgynous skeleton in Born This Way, and a vulnerable mermaid in You and I, the masculine alter ego of Gaga allowed her to express herself from a different perspective.
After several red carpets full of color, height, high fashion, and extravagant hair and makeup, the artist surprised the audience by showing up in the manly version of Gaga, with a suit and a white t-shirt, delivering an acting performance throughout the night that was truly memorable.
Jo Calderone is Gaga´s alter ego that she created with the British fashion photographer Nick Knight, where Gaga expressed some of her disappointment from previous relationships but it was also a way for her to express through Jo, the dark side of fame that the artist was not enjoying. It is a contrast of Gaga as a pop star, and Jo as the person who didn’t understand fame and felt lost at times.
I think it's really f* great that she's such a star. A big beautiful star in the sky. But how am I supposed to shine?! I mean, I think I'd be okay with it, you know, if I felt like she was really being herself with me. And maybe she is. Jo Calderone
An Italian Goddess Arrives at the American Music Awards 2013
Lady Gaga confirmed in an interview for Vogue that the horse is made of Chanel purses!
Lady Gaga is an artist that is defined by “eras”, the way she dresses, the style of her music, and the overall aesthetic of her performances and music videos changes with every album. In 2013, Gaga was in her Artpop era, an album that talked about art being a form of expression where not everyone will have the same opinion yet we all have the opportunity to connect with art and express through it.
This was also the time when Gaga became the muse of Versace for a campaign inspired by Gods and Goddesses, which matched perfectly with the aesthetic that Gaga was aiming for during that time. So Gaga took this Versace look as inspiration for her iconic red carpet look at the American Music Awards in 2013. With a light purple gown and a synthetic horse conducted by two people, this was a stunning red carpet entrance!
The International Film Star Look at the Venice Film Festival 2018.
A Star is Born is one of the biggest projects that Gaga has been involved in. The songwriting, the singing, and the acting led her to be greeted in film festivals, music awards, and acting awards. This means more iconic red carpet looks for us! After a meat dress, a white horse, armadillo heels, and lots of controversial looks, Gaga aimed for glamour in this exciting moment of her career where she started to be recognized for her acting skills.
In the Venice Film Festival of 2018, the singer and actress showed up with a stunning pale pink dress by Valentino. The volume, texture, and movement of the dress were spectacular, but the fascinating moment came when it started to rain, a security guard offered Gaga an umbrella and she kindly rejected it to make an iconic red carpet entrance for all of us. Do you see the raindrops falling in the picture below?
A Periwinkle Star At the Golden Globes 2019
Was it challenging for Gaga to come up with different and authentic ideas for each red carpet during the award season of music and film? Probably. But with the help of her stylists, hairdressers, and makeup artists, many great looks came from this fascinating era in Gaga’s career. Before the controversy of the Golden Globes, this ceremony used to be seen as preliminary results of the Oscar awards. This means that many people believed that the winners at the Golden Globes would ultimately be the potential winners at the Academy Awards, so it was an important night for Gaga, since her work as an actress, singer, and songwriter was recognized that evening.
The gown that Gaga wore for the Golden Globes made her stand out among the guests and it was an iconic look since it blends the personality of the artist with the formal dress code that the event requires. Who else would have rocked that periwinkle Valentino gown with a light blue hairstyle in a bun? It’s Gaga from head to toe!
The dress was found in Gaga's Beverly Hilton room, and after months of being stored in the Lost & Found area of the hotel, a housekeeper offered it for auction but it was withdrawn before bidding closed on the piece in November 2019.
There Was a Gala at the Met after Gaga’s Performance
On the first Monday of May, the Met Gala is celebrated with a themed event that helps as a fundraiser for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. The editor-in-chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour, works collaboratively with Andrew Bolton, the Head Curator of the Costume Institute to plan the whole event. One of the key responsibilities of this duo is to choose co-chairs for the event. These co-chairs are relevant people in their field, with influence and impact on society, and are somehow related to the theme of the gala.
In 2019, the theme was Camp, a popular aesthetic based on exaggeration, irony, and humor. Didn’t it seem like a perfect theme for Lady Gaga? This is why she was chosen as one of the co-chairs of the gala, along with Harry Styles (another true figure of Camp). tennis player Serena Williams, and fashion designer and creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele.
Brandon Maxwell was the creative mind behind Gaga’s fashion for the evening. As the Met Gala has seen some of the most iconic looks in fashion that often lead to trends, memes, and pop culture, the expectations were high for a red carpet look inspired by camp.
So instead of planning a red carpet entrance, Gaga and Maxwell planned a red carpet performance. With previous authorization from Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton, Gaga arrived at the Met Gala with a huge hot pink gown, an enormous bow on her head, and performers around her with black umbrellas. After a few minutes, the hot pink gown was gone and a dramatic black gown became the look. The co-chair of the Gala showed the dress to the press and the guests and took the dress off to show a hot pink straight dress that ultimately cover a black bra and underwear.
"Camp is the answer to the problem: how to be a dandy in the age of mass culture." —Susan Sontag, 1964
We are far from the Shallow Now
During Award season, many fashion journalists love to say that certain celebrities dress like winners when they walk into the red carpet, as if they already knew they would be recognized that night. The truth is, Lady Gaga received her first two nominations at the Academy Awards for Best Song, and Best Actress. The song Shallow had already received lots of recognition including a Golden Globe and two Grammy Awards.
Amid a very successful time in her career, Gaga wore a simple yet elegant black gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, but one of the highlights of this look is the Tiffany diamond that the artist wore. Before Gaga, the diamond was worn by Audrey Hepburn for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and its history goes back to 1877 when it was discovered by Tiffany’s co-founder Charles Lewis Tiffany. He bought the piece a year later.
The diamond stone totals 128.54 carats and it is estimated to be the most expensive jewelry ever worn to the Oscars, with an estimated value of 30 million dollars! Most definitely a winning and memorable look for Gaga.
Haus of Gaga and House of Gucci Met
In a new and exciting chapter in Lady Gaga’s career, we see her in the film House of Gucci as Patrizia Reggiani, the former partner of Maurizio Gucci (former CEO of Gucci who was murdered in 1995).
So the fashion that the actress and singer wore to promote and receive recognition for this film, is as elegant and sophisticated as the House of Gucci. In fact, Gaga partnered up with her stylists to wear mainly Italian designers for events related to this film. It is a wink to the artist’s heritage and a tribute to the people portrayed in the movie.
Gaga showed up at the SAG Awards in Santa Monica, CA last February with a very minimalistic and elegant white gown by Armani Prive and a silver Tiffany necklace that accentuated the look to be one of the most glamorous of the evening.
And the list will keep growing because Gaga keeps singing, acting, modeling, writing, and advocating for social issues that make her a great case study for Political Fashion. She keeps sharing stories with us through her clothes and we learn from her and from the messages that she wants to share with us. Gaga’s clothes have a purpose, a history. They represent an era or a message from a chapter of her life, showing us that people change year after year, season after season, breakup after breakup, but under those glamorous clothes, wigs and makeup, there is a person who is constantly evolving and thinking of the next best thing to do.
What do you think will be Gaga’s next great look like?