By Andrea F. Pagliai
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, to an Italian family in New York City, Lady Gaga worked her way through Manhattan’s Lower East Side music scene to develop, what the public now sees, in her music videos and stage performances.
Her persona—a mix of 80s electro-pop-punk and performance art—distinguishes her in an industry that demands niche attractions. Her inspirations trace back to Madonna, Grace Jones, and David Bowie. But, now Lady Gaga is the trend. Revealing, tight-fitting leotards, be-dazzled bras, and space-rock inspired jewelry are all part of her identifying wardrobe. Her platinum blonde, stick-straight waist-length hair, adorned with a heavy dose of blunt bangs and glitter face-paint make-up, all contribute to signature components of her look.
Through image and popularity, Lady Gaga influences the music industry and fashion world. Many describe her as a pop-performance artist, which plays into her futuristic, architectural, and geometrically shaped stage garments that, conjunction with her music, make her stick in people’s minds.
Those who go to her concerts dress up in her likeness, the same way concertgoers did for Madonna in the 80s and 90s.
Lady Gaga’s fashion is as uninhibited as her music lyrics and this carefree style is catching on. Her revival of the dance ballad and her overtly sexual lyrics, which convert the timid, have both found their way into her clothing style.
Chinatown and Lower East Side based, avant-garde fashion designer Alisha Trimble feels that Lady Gaga’s original look distinguishes her from the rest. “She styles herself with such a unique look and that really impresses me,” remarks Trimble.
Lady Gaga’s, “fashion is also inspiring people to have a certain lifestyle,” Trimble adds, suggesting that Gaga’s fashion is evocative of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘girls just want to have fun’ attitude.
By taking risks with her outfit selections, Lady Gaga inspires her fans to be daring. Trimble believes that, “(Lady Gaga) is going to influence what people wear when they go out. Some more avant-garde designers will be favored by people who like her music,” Trimble adds.
“The fact that she is wearing leotards, makes me consider bringing them back for next summer,” Trimble discusses, in relation to her future collections.
Other pop stars and celebrity stylists are taking notice as well. Everyone from Lily Allen to Britney Spears, are popping up in Lady Gaga’s signature pant-less uni-tard, paired with tights and heels, in their photo-shoots, music videos, and magazine spreads.
Nicole Richie was recently photographed for BlackBookmag.com and styled exactly as Lady Gaga in a spread titled: “Nicole Riche: Glam Punk.” Even Perez Hilton took notice. He posted pictures of the spread on his blog, PerezHilton.com, under a caption reading: “Trying To Be Ladylike,” referencing Richie’s stylized impersonation of Lady Gaga.
While Trimble feels it is still too early to see Lady Gaga’s direct influence on the runway, she notes that, “when you become a leader, you are always going to see your influence on other people and you should be flattered.”
However, Trimble does not see Lady Gaga suffering due to others drawing from her individual style. “I think people are too modest to copy Lady Gaga’s outfits exactly—So I think she is safe!” Trimble assures.
Fusari, a record producer and artist developer, notes that since he began working with her, Lady Gaga was always conscious of the formation of her image. By styling herself, she was always original and in control, notes Fusari. As time went on, “the dress got crazier and more outlandish,” soon leading to the creation of a, “character that she would not come out of,” describes Fusari.
Singer/Songwriter, Wendy Starland knew Lady Gaga back in her Lower East Side days. She remembers that, “since the beginning, Lady Gaga was conscious of using fashion to make her music stand out. The drama and shock value,” of her fashions make up the main aspect of her influence. Starland sums up that this type of look, “makes people take notice in an industry that requires artists to set themselves apart.”
Singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” from her debut album, The Fame, released in Aug. 2008, continue to monopolize the charts. Both reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, helping Lady Gaga “become [one of] the first artist[s] in nearly ten years to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with his or her first two chart entries,” according to Billboard.com.
Lady Gaga’s popularity is a trend in-and-of-itself. Her performance on FOX’s American Idol, “which drew in over 24.3 million viewers, claimed the top slot of the top primetime telecasts on broadcast TV for April 1, 2009,” according to the Nielson Wire.
That night, Lady Gaga performed “Poker Face” sporting a shining black one-piece get-up with a Vegas showgirl feel.
The zipper covering her right eye, expressed another one of her signature looks: often covering up a portion of her face, either with make-up or hardware, lending to part of her mystique as a performer that keeps people wanting more.
“I hope she will influence a generation of fashion risk-takers,” Trimble muses. However, Trimble’s bottom line is that regardless of the future, right now Lady Gaga, “is making people have fun with fashion,” which is the most important trend of all.