Her Gaga-Ness


Her Gaga-Ness

Through her fantastical and outrageous dressing,Lady Gaga mirrors the times we live in

Stefani joanne Angelina Germanotta or Lady Gaga as we know the outrageous pop singer and songwriter who wears pink eyelashes,alabaster hair with neon underwear,rides on eggs and 9-inch heels,was voted the most influential celebrity of the world by Forbes a few days ago. Ostensibly,she was billed number one because of her staggeringly high income,best-selling single albums,over 10 million followers on Twitter and 32 million Facebook fans,making her the most followed person in the world. But let’s not forget that Ms Gaga,a lethal combination of the star and the wannabe,an intersection of freedom of expression and its dramatic overuse,mirrors our times like few stars do.

For centuries feminity has stood for perfection. But a range of expressions in arts and fashion in the last few decades have evolved towards the idea that “being female” needn’t be sexy,pretty or cool. Certainly not conformist. Need a visual reference? Think Lady Gaga. She is neither the slender American Diana nor the rounded,French Venus. If the Gibson Girl,America’s first pin-up model,helped announce that women have legs,Lady Gaga announced that women have guts.

Now consider the connect between fashion and neurosis that lies exposed on red carpets,ramps and costumes of pop singers. Fashion may still be about the triumphs of the industrial age,about Lycra and lucre,elitism and experimentation. But it is also about personal whimsies,about the brashness of an ascendant republic,about sexiness as a smack on the face,not a byproduct of lacy couture. Flaming bras,steel costumes,cup cakes on dresses,hair that mocks at sanity. Who needs a designer? A chef,plumber or a psychiatrist would do too. Poster girl? Lady Gaga.

Mathieu Deflam,a professor at South Carolina University in the US,who teaches a course called “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” rightly told a TV channel that “while all this sounds fun,and is a popular culture idea,we discuss it very seriously,as seriously as any other sociological subject.” Gaga,who has edged out Oprah Winfrey to become the most influential celeb in the world,is a serious issue. She waltzes on an emotional roller coaster — one day a self-deprecating loser,or a victim of verbal abuse in adolescence,and on another day,a saviour of homosexuals.

She is like a vision we imagine after a joint of marijuana,embodying a hundred split personalities.

Let me admit that for a features journalist Gaga is a blessing who can look like a curse. She can be a showstopper or a vamp depending on the needs of a newslist. What have you for the pages today? No glamour? Paste Gaga. No sex or controversy? Use Gaga. Fantastical fashion? Er,don’t we have something on Gaga? In India,which doesn’t have homegrown outrageous celebrities,she is “terribly terrific” as someone told me.

Seldom has fashion produced such a territorial identity. With her fresh packaging (pardon the raw-meat dress and egg costume),Lady Gaga is a fashion stylist’s fantasy. Her fashion director,Nicola Formichetti,the man responsible for finding the meat dress,takes credit for whatever she wears. When he first started styling her,nobody would lend him clothes,so he would lie and say that he wanted them for a photo shoot (Formichetti is also creative director of the Thierry Mugler label). All that changed after Giorgio Armani,the king of graceful restraint,collaborated with Gaga for the Grammys last year. He abandoned his greige palette and dressed her in shocking colours. This year,she convinced designer Hussein Chalayan to give her an egg to wear. “She reassembles and restyles familiar items in an unfamiliar way. Her sense of style and sex is artistic,not commercial. Her fashion is the goal,the expression,not a means,” said Deflam.

So for those who like me call her fashion’s ultimate vamp,here are some dictionary jottings as correction. The word “vamp” means to improvise,to put something together from bits and pieces that could crumble any moment. It could mean a seductress. It also refers to the outer part of the boot,which takes the full brunt of a kick.