Like a tornado, Lady Gaga whirled onto the international pop music scene in 2008, sweeping up phenomenal sales and numerous awards.
But music isn't her only game. She's had an impact on the fashion scene, too, with her ever changing, no-limits wardrobe full of costumes and props. For the past few years, most of these have been created by her Haus of Gaga design business.
So, is there anything you can learn from Lady Gaga? Here are 10 fashion lessons from the Haus of Gaga that you can take note of.
Lady Gaga isn't your typical fashion model. She stands only 5 feet 1 inch tall without shoes. Yet she pulls off some amazing shapes.
Oversized, rectangular shoulders are features of several outfits. In at least one, the shoulders are level with the top of her head. She'll also exaggerate her hips with rectangular skirts. Sharp-edged triangles adorn stiff, shiny costumes and black leather jackets. To add a few inches to her height, sometimes her hair will rise up in a conical shape above her circular sunglasses. But not everything's boxy and square -- spheres work, too. The lesson: Everything you need to know about fashion you learned in kindergarten.
Hair Dressing Doesn't Mean What It Used To
Lady Gaga doesn't see the need to keep hair so close to her head -- or stop with her own hair. She takes the ancient hair shirt to new lengths with a dress made of braided blond locks and a frizzy hair skirt. Another hair dress is more along the Lady Godiva lines -- strategically draped and belted. Hair shows up in other outfits as a monstrous head dressing.
She's creative with her own hair, too. A natural brunette, Lady Gaga dyes her hair platinum blond, but frequently tints parts of it with crayon colors. She's turned it into an actual hair bow, a sun hat, and countless other shapes. The chemicals are damaging, though. Gaga says she misses her natural color because her blond hair is falling out. Fashion lesson: Treat your tresses tenderly, or they'll be hair today, gone tomorrow.
The Sky Is Not the Limit
Gaga takes her fashion inspiration from nature, drawing from the sea, the land, and the cosmos. Her outfit for the 2010 Grammy Awards was a Giorgio Armani dress with stiff orbital trails ringing her body. A constellation headdress and stardust hosiery completed the outfit. One of her costumes in the "Bad Romance" video looks like a cross between a lobster and a praying mantis. She's also taken floral prints to new dimensions -- the third dimension -- with a dress of silk flowers sewn onto black fabric.
Accessorize with Imagination
We tend to think of accessories as a purse, a belt, a bangle and maybe a scarf. But they can be so much more! Masks aren't just for Halloween and highway robbers. They're for a night out on the town, too. If that's too bold, wear vintage sunglasses -- even when you're not in the sun. Top off your look with a hat (or a crustacean, telephone or T-bone steak). If your outfit doesn't have quite the dynamic you hoped for, slip on a pair of biker gloves, elbow gloves or a single ripped glove. Still not enough? Top your fingernails with tiny wire cages. And don't forget your vampire fangs!
Lady Gaga shows us it is easy being green -- with a jacket and headband made from Kermit the Frog stuffed animals. For another dress, a giant Muppet monster head found new life as a skirt. Muppets aren't just for hands anymore.
Out-of-date disco balls get a second chance, too. The shiny, mirrored squares can be transformed into masks, bras and reflective, angular dresses.
And why be original when you can borrow looks -- or even parts -- from other celebrity icons. C-3PO, check your metal body!
Hem lines go up, hem lines come down. We've seen the super long and the super short and every length in between.
There's nothing new in skirts -- unless you think vertically. Lady Gaga did just that, coming out with a skirt that only covers the right side of the body. Fashion lesson: Falf a skirt is better than none.
Vertical lines also help those of us with tinier frames look a little taller for the camera, something Gaga has mastered.
Tall, weird, colorful and crazy, Lady Gaga seems to live for shoes. High heels help you rise above the crowd and pick up a slinky walk.
In Lady Gaga's world, though, most body coverage extends from the toes to the knees. Her everyday attire consists of a leotard, fishnet hose and footwear. If there's more material in your outfit than in your boots, you're overdressed.
The Right 'Cut' Is Everything
Did fashion taste becomes tasty fashion? No matter. Lady Gaga's MTV Video Music Awards meat dress was just the thing to whip up notice and stir up controversy.
Meat dress designer Franc Fernandez told MTV, "I chose the right cuts to make sure the dress kept well." Some reports say the dress required 40 pounds of fresh meat. We're hoping the meat bikini was a bit lighter. Fernandez spent a week putting the dress together and happily anticipated witnessing the deterioration of his creation.
Now, this doesn't mean you should run to the nearest butcher shop and start stitching together cold cuts and sacrificing your turkey sandwiches. But if you want to catch eyes and be creative, almost anything goes -- don't be afraid to push some boundaries.
Every woman knows that clothing with the right cut makes you look trim and stylish. The takeaway from this temporary fashion entrée? Fitted leather sparks flirting, but flank steak draws flies.
Go On the Offensive
Madonna made a statement -- fashion and political -- with her torpedo bras. Lady Gaga goes a few steps farther with fully armed brassieres.
In her "Bad Romance" video, she barbecues an errant boyfriend with a flame-throwing bra. In another video -- and on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine -- she dons a machine-gun bra. The fashion lesson: When taking the offensive, two barrels are better than one.
Lady Gaga isn't just about music, and she isn't just about fashion. She's about the total image. She says on her Haus of Gaga Web site, "When I'm writing music, I'm thinking about the clothes I want to wear on stage. It's all about everything altogether -- performance art, pop performance art, fashion. For me, it's everything coming together and being a real story that will bring back the super-fan."
It isn't enough that she's built a music brand and a brand of uninhibited, avant-garde, risk-taking fashions. Now, Gaga wants to teach. She's applied for an adjunct professor position at Manhattan's prestigious Parson's School of Design. A college dropout herself, she'd like to teach fashion design students for a semester or two after her Monster Ball Tour ends.
Where do those red carpet dresses go after their big debuts? HowStuffWorks follows the trail.
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- Haus of Gaga. "The 'Haus of Gaga.'" (March 20, 2011) http://www.haus-of-gaga.com/haus-of-gaga
- Luscombe, Belinda. "1.Lady Gaga." Top 10 Fashion Statements. The Top 10 of Everything 2010. Time: Dec. 9, 2010. (March 19, 2011) http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2035319_2034464,00.html
- Polaroid. "Polaroid and Lada Gaga Announce Grey Label." Jan. 6, 2011. (March 20, 2011) http://www.polaroid.com/en/press/2011/1/6/polaroid-and-lady-gaga-announce-grey-label
- Style Crunch. "Lady Gaga, Fashion Professor? Gaga Applies to Teach Style Classes at Parsons School of Design." Dec. 13, 2010. (March 19, 2011) http://style.popcrunch.com/lady-gaga-fashion-professor-gaga-applies-to-teach-style-classes-at-parsons-school-of-design/
- Vena, Jocelyn. "Lady Gaga Meat Dress Designer Tells How to Re-create His VMA Look." MTV News Top Stories. Sept. 16, 2010. (March 19, 2011) http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1647978/lady-gaga-meat-dress-designer-tells-how-recreate-his-vma-look.jhtml
- Warrington, Ruby. "Lady Gaga: ready for her close-up." The Sunday Times. Feb. 22, 2009. (March 19, 2011) http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article5746827.ece