When Lady Gaga returned from her six-month hiatus in August 2013, her stylist Brandon Maxwell assured the public that the singer’s newfound fashion direction would be “more toned down and pulled back and chic.” To promote her latest album, ARTPOP, Gaga selected a slew of minimalist pieces—long black sheaths, simple designer footwear, and more monotonous, muted tones. Following a series of press appearances related to the album, I dubbed the singer’s new style “Gaga 2.0,” questioning where is there to go when you’ve already done it all.
Yet, in typical Lady Gaga fashion, the singer has begun to shock us once again. Her phase of simplicity has been replaced in recent months—particularly the last few weeks—with the outrageous stunts and costume-like ensembles she was originally recognized, and celebrated, for. She’s been named the face of Versace, serving as a beautiful blonde doppelganger to the house’s Donatella; she made a splash (literally) at SXSW in mid-March, participating in performance art with her friend, “vomit painter” Millie Brown; she’s been spotted rocking outrageous ensembles akin to a snowman or a giant rose bush. She’s accessorized with seashells, wildly high creepers, and futuristic, visor-style headpieces. Did Gaga just miss her old tricks or is there something else going on here?
Gaga, who covers the second issue of Net-a-Porter’s new print publication, PORTER, opened up to the magazine about frequently changing her look. “That’s when I know my soul is restless,” she said. “It comes out in a very physical way. If I’m able to hold on to one look for a longer period of time, it means I’ve settled into a new idea. If I haven’t, I’m just searching for the next thing, ‘What’s next? What’s next?’”
But following less-than positive reviews of ARTPOP and a less-than satisfactory hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, it’s hard not to wonder—is Gaga utilizing her clothing as an outlet to stay relevant? Can her pink, glittery unicorn look or semi-frightening ski mask/spiked-jacket ensemble really be considered a new idea, when they seem to reference the Kermit the Frog dresses and hair bows of Gaga-past?
“My fashion is my most prized possession for two reasons,” Gaga told Harper’s Bazaar in February. “1) because it is a visualization of all the hard work I’ve put in to get where I am today; 2) because it is a legend to the encyclopedia of my life. It is exactly what I’ve aimed to seep into the artistic consciousness of people all over the world—that life is an art form.” But is the performer taking her art form too seriously, trying to compensate for something else that may be lacking? Now that we’ve got the splash of craziness we were waiting for, it’s hard to understand where Gaga can go from here. If she’s already fallen off her throne, maybe it’s only a matter of time before she loses her style reign as well.