COLUMN: Fashion Forward
What Ever Happened To Lady Gaga?
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 23:09
What’s going on with Lady Gaga these days? It’s a question I have not asked myself recently because, to be honest, I am tired of giving her so much time and attention. I would like to harken back to her days of singing “Boys, Boys, Boys,” and wearing disco ball-inspired leotards, looking futuristic and fresh. Her videos were fierce, fun, quirky, and a little provocative. The Fame was hot, and so was she with her platinum blonde hair bob and bedazzled shades. We all fell in love with her fashion sense, and a host of female performers followed in her larger-than-life steps.
But Gaga’s mix of pop and performance art, which was once sassy and fun, has recently gone to a place where her sartorial ridiculousness has begun to outshine her actual talent. It’s hard not to look at Lady Gaga’s fashion choices, both on and off the stage, and see how thin they wear, often literally as well as figuratively (I’m looking at you, clear plastic dress and lobster hat). I have always loved her for pushing the envelope, for being assertive and not taking herself too seriously. She screamed fun, flirty, and catchy to me in the days of yesteryear, but post-The Fame, it seems that Gaga’s fashion choices began to parody themselves.
No one can pull off a dress made out of plush Kermit the frog heads, I’m sorry Gaga, you just can’t. But we all laughed along, wondered how bad she smelled in that meat dress, and awed at how only she could make these things seem okay. She began to rock the boat that she had built on her sequins and spandex, and we were all along for the ride, but how far will she take us? When will she reduce herself to a mere laughingstock, left alone with her costumes, masks, and platform shoes?
This is not to say that all fashion is not some sort of mask that we try on for the day, or even the hour. Each piece, from Lululemon yoga pants to a Versace dress or a dress made out of plastic bubbles, says something about us. Performance costumes and pop stars are meant to attract the eye, and after donning so much glitter and glitz, maybe Gaga was looking for a new way to stay in the spotlight—although, her music should have been this outlet and her focus.
We do not wish to confine Gaga to her belted, hooded leotards, hair bows, and striking face paint of the past, but it seems that she plays with sartorial ridiculousness for its own sake, and not for any larger purpose. Her persona is merely a joke in my eyes. Push the boundaries, be you, do what you have to do, I understand. But I don’t see any truth, or passion, behind Gaga’s increasingly zany looks. Stilt shoes so high that she is essentially paralyzed and needs to be carried from place to place? I have to think maybe she is just a little tired of walking, and maybe I’m just a little tired of watching.
It’s hard not to look at pictures of her, and wonder if she is laughing at all of us. If she is asking herself how she hoodwinked us all to such an extent that we have escalated someone wearing dresses made out of fake purple hair (to the airport no less) to such a level of stardom. Does she have us all fooled? It’s even difficult to talk about her particular outfits without using the event in question as reference, because most of them defy explanation. Words like “braided hair,” “lace face mask,” and “tiered wedding cake dress” don’t begin to explain the garments or the feelings.
Drama, sass, fearless fashion, yes—but when Gaga’s fashion started overshadowing her singing, that’s when I lost interest. I don’t think that Gaga’s most recent work has been anywhere as good as her older work, but this isn’t a music column after all and I’ll keep those opinions mostly to myself. For Gaga the ridiculousness has taken center stage, and I am no longer buying it.
I know that performers function in a different fashion space than most of us, and I know that Lady Gaga isn’t going to wear a J. Crew dress on stage at her next concert, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to see her in something paired down and simple, and let her voice do some of the talking for a change? I wouldn’t want her to lose the essence of her character, Lady Gaga, but I want Gaga to remove some of the fully-covered lace face masks and be seen! She needs to remain accessible to the fans that loved her for stepping outside the box in the first place.
At some point, will others tire of her antics and leave her applauding herself? Or is Gaga such an international and cultural phenomenon that she will be around well into her 80s concocting newer and more ridiculous ensembles than ever? I have to believe that Chris March from season four of Project Runway and others just like him will be ready and willing to outfit the person(a) that is Gaga, in shocking ensembles for as long as they all shall live. Though I hate to say I will be following along, I’m sure I will stumble upon her for years to come, as she thinks up something else ridiculous and I yearn for the days of “Poker Face,” and rhinestone gloves.