Fabulous at Every Age Edit
- Editorial by Laura Brown; Photography by Inez and Vinoodh
The Real Lady GagaEdit
A few months ago, Donatella Versace threw open the doors of the Versace archive in Milan, which contains pieces from the glorious, Medusa'd peak of the Gianni years, for Lady Gaga to plunder at will. "It was me and my friends," Gaga remembers of this particular fashion moment. "We were all running around this warehouse laughing and putting on jackets and shoes. We started crying at one point. I've been dreaming of seeing those outfits my whole life."
It's not a secret that Lady Gaga loves to dress up — in Mugler, in Alexander McQueen, in meat. Lately, "there are some amazing emerging kids from Parsons. I've been wearing a lot of young designers," she explains. She wore a custom-made Hussein Chalayan dress in her recent "Yoü and I" video and chuckles that without McQueen, "I'd be naked." But for this shoot, which will soon be seen in a "fashion film" created in collaboration with photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, a basically barefaced Gaga is very deliberately dressed down.
While this might seem a departure from more theatrical Gaga garb, she doesn't see the slightest difference. "I don't really view it as 'natural,'" she explains. "I think that artifice is the new reality. It's more about just being honest and sincere to the core of what you do. Whether I'm wearing lots of makeup or no makeup, I'm always the same person inside."
But does she ever look in the bathroom mirror in the morning and think, Here we go again? "Sometimes I do. It all really depends on my mood for the day. But I think the perception that I 'put it on' every day is probably not true."
In Gaga's mind, "putting it on" is subject to interpretation. "Don't you think that what's on the cover of a magazine is quite artificial?" she asks. "There's this idea that it's all natural, but everything's been staged to look natural. It is also an invention. It's just that my inventions are different. I often get asked about my artifice, but isn't fashion based on the idea that we can create a fantasy?"
One could suppose that her little monsters might be disappointed, though, if she started wearing jeans and T-shirts. "I try to not focus on what people expect from me," she says. "I think what has been lovely about my relationship with the public is that they expect something unexpected from me."
What is expected of Gaga is her love for fashion and her ability to use it, quite literally, as a performance enhancer. For all her love of couture — her custom Armani dresses, her epic love story with stylist and Mugler designer Nicola Formichetti, all those supermodular Versaces — "there's this one pair of shoes I've had for years, and they cost like $25. I have such an emotional attachment to the shoes that every time I see them, I can hear the fans and feel the bass coming through the bottom of the stage."
Sometimes, of course, shoes are the most substantial part of a Gaga outfit; her body image is as fearless as her fashion. "I'm very free-spirited," she says, like a Swede in a spa. "Even when I was a kid, I used to run around naked with the babysitter, driving her crazy." She attributes her body confidence to dancing, and "I do yoga, I do Bikram and I run, and I eat really healthy. You know, my work sort of feeds me. I keep in shape by working hard."
Even when she's not touring, Gaga works "about 16 to 20 hours a day. And when I'm alone, I write, I imagine, I create things, and I decide how I want to do my future performances. I don't take much time off."
And due to her crushing travel schedule, Gaga spends a lot of time on her own. "When you're alone as much as I am," she observes, "you become accustomed to your solitude and embrace it." Of late, she's been immersing herself in plays. "I love John Patrick Shanley. And I've been reading some books that I loved when I was in theater school, like Bertolt Brecht. Those books really changed my life."
Gaga has also taken up surfing, which she tried for the first time on a princely two-day vacation to Mexico in August. "I fell off a lot in the beginning," she says, "but one of the surfers said to me, 'Now that you can stand up, just look into the future and enjoy the ride.' I thought that was an interesting metaphor about life."
Gaga tweeted a picture of herself to her 13 million followers, writing, "Yeah, that's me. No heels, baby." She was au natural.