The late 2000s and the early 2010s weren’t exactly a great time for mainstream music. Aside from the fact that there were a lot of trashy and generic pop acts that made songs that were catchy but forgettable, almost everyone played it safe, sticking to the usual image and aesthetics of their respective chosen genres. And while there were definitely notable and talented acts that elevated their respective niches, like Rihanna, Taylor Swift and of course, Beyoncé, none of them tried to move above, beyond or even sideways from the status quo, save for one: Lady Gaga.
Born Stefanie Germanotta, Lady Gaga began singing in open mics and school plays, and went on to study at New York University’s Tisch’s School of the Arts, from where she dropped out to pursue a musical career. After a short songwriting stint, she then released her first album The Fame and first single “Poker Face,” and the rest was entertainment history.
Her music, however, is only half of the equation. In a post-MTV world, imagery — fashion, iconography, and style — mattered as much as the artist’s talent in belching out notes. And in America’s star sphere, people either followed fashion trends or set ones that are close to older ones. Gaga, on the other hand, broke them. How? By dressing up in ways no one in Hollyweird can. In every public outing, she was always a work of art. A freaky one, that is. As tribute, here are some of her strangest fashion choices.
15 The Meat Dress
It’s not a meat dress; it’s the meat dress, Lady Gaga’s arguably most iconic and most controversial dress of her first years as an international artist, and even to date. And while it seems as if she has moved on from her super-weird and ultra-random fashion choices and adopted a more traditional and classy image, it is probably going to be her most recognizable outfit from that particular school of style – unless she returns to those aesthetics and manages to outdo herself, that is.
The dress and her platform shoes, which she wore to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, where she won eight VMAs, were 100% raw beef. And despite it being a weird choice for clothing material, she definitely pulled off a rather classy look with it. PETA, however, was very much displeased with what she did, and thought it was offensive. Classic PETA, huh?
14 Hail To The Queen?
The meat dress was weird and very mildly unsettling, but it’s definitely nowhere near Lady Gaga’s freakiest dresses – you know, those that made people think that the Catholic-raised Stefanie Germanotta was a devil worshipper. To be fair, she does draw inspiration from occult imagery, but it’s still a bit of a stretch and a witch-hunt mentality to assume she is one just because of her choice in aesthetics. Nevertheless, regardless of whether you think Lady Gaga just has an interest in obscure symbolisms or a full-blown servant of the underworld, we can all agree that her red lace dress that covers her face and has a pointy, old-school, and cartoony crown on her head is freaky and unsettling. Must be the combination of the facelessness and the horror-associated color.
13 Hair Monster
Through the years, Lady Gaga’s choice of fashion pieces has continuously puzzled fashion editors and critics. From political campaigns, philosophical musings, ode to influential persons, environmental awareness and occult symbols, among many, Gaga continuously brings stunning and memorable pieces to the runway and award shows. Either a throwback to Cousin It from Addams Family, the hair monster from urban legends, a character in Monster University, or just Lady Gaga’s eccentric fashion aspiration brought to life, this outfit completed her Monster Ball Tour in the European leg of her concert tour. Created by Charlie le Mindu, this ensemble of head-to-toe real human hair completed with white spandex pants is her literal “Hair” lyrics come to life. Despite having a canopy of hair, Gaga managed to wow the audience with her stellar performance. Now that’s stage presence. The world will have a hard time finding another artist who can pull this off on stage.
12 Tentacle Monster
The first thing that comes to mind when people see tentacles is inappropriate anime material. As for Lady Gaga, she doesn’t seem like the type that would draw inspiration from such a source. Yet at the same time, knowing Lady Gaga, adopting something from works that aren’t exactly readily accepted by society is very much something she would do. Then there’s also the possibility that her inspiration didn’t come from that, but from real-life marine invertebrates that have that particular kind of appendages. Or maybe she got it from strange eldritch creatures featured in those old horror comics and illustrations, or even from Cthulhu himself, the greatest Lovecraftian monster ever. Oh Mother Monster, you really live up to your name.
11 Is That A Shirt?
Blue and pink is a relatively safe color combination, if not a bit too stereotypical, as the former connotes masculinity and the latter femininity. For Lady Gaga, however, any and all combinations of colors are unsafe from her ever avant-garde sense of style. That’s why she managed to come up with that dress, if it can be called as such. It either looks like an oversized and ballooned pink latex dress with a blue aura surrounding it, or a blue plastic bag containing pink dishwashing liquid. The question is, what could’ve been her inspiration for it? Carnation-colored detergent? Plastic bags? Well, that’s assuming she even took inspiration from an everyday mundane object; it wouldn’t be too surprising if it turns out that she just randomly came up with it. Whatever it is, it looks comfy. We’ll take ten of those things, please.
10 Kermit The Frog
Those that grew up in the 80s, 90s and even earlier know about The Muppets. For the digital natives reading this, The Muppets were these cute and wacky puppet animatronics created by Jim Henson, who’s also the creator of Sesame Street. Each of them were unique and had a colorful personality. The daredevil Fozzy, the drummer Animal, the posh Hollywood star Miss Piggy and last but definitely not least, their cool, funny, charismatic and green-skinned leader, Kermit the Frog. Kermit may not be as big as before, but he’s still very much popular. In fact, in the past ten years, he’s appeared in two movies (which are both Muppets movies), memes and of course, Lady Gaga’s dress. Yes, she wore a dress made entirely out of Kermit the Frog plushies. But all those Kermits used just to make a dress? Disturbing.
9 Mother Monster’s Nest
Because of her strange and even sometimes macabre choices in wardrobe and imagery, as well as the mature yet profound way she carries herself and delivers her inspiring messages to the public and most especially her adoring “children,” Lady Gaga has earned the moniker of Mother Monster. And as a mother, it makes sense that she has a nest. By that, we don’t mean figuratively. Lady Gaga’s nest is not a creative name for a fan site or a term of endearment for her listeners. It is a real physical nest, and it was on her head, encircling her face. It definitely seems funny in an unintended way, and strange in a manner expected from Lady Gaga. And depending on your perspective, it can look like a beard instead of a nest, or it can make her look like an abominable snow-woman. Truly fitting for a figure like Lady Gaga.
8 Mister Gaga?
With just a single piece of accessory, Lady Gaga can manage to be an artist, visionary and headliner all at the same time. It’s just a freaking moustache, but there’s something about how Mother Monster juxtaposes the plastic counterpart of a mostly male-exclusive facial hair with the rest of her alluring feminine top, pants and garter belt, stilettos and fur cape (which is more than likely to be fake fur, given how much of an environmentalist Gaga is). And aside from crafting a gender-ambiguous image, she also makes the entire getup rather humorous. To be fair, however, almost all moustaches, especially without beards, are seen as comedic nowadays, but there’s something about her choice in style of moustache — the kind whose tips are swept sideways and back — that makes her look funny, yet at the same classy and avant-garde.
7 What A Star
To say that Lady Gaga is a star would be an understatement. She is, after all, one of the most popular, most creative, most unique, most talented and most iconic musical acts of the late 2000s and the 2010s. Heck, this list wouldn’t have been written if she weren’t. So yes, there’s no debate, Lady Gaga is undoubtedly and most definitely a star. She’s also a star half-literally, as there was a time when she wore this really strange star-shaped dress, or costume, made out of a silver cloth or rolled-up hard material, as the spikes, or rather, rays, made to be sturdy enough to prop her. And since she’s a big star, it’s only right that the costume is big. It’s definitely cumbersome, but hey, Gaga knows that suffering is the price of art and fame.
6 Chic Mask
Centuries ago, authorities often resorted to torture as a means to punish people for their crimes, or interrogate them. And in order to be proficient in this archaic and unethical method of law enforcement and extraction of truth, they used all sorts of devices, with each one bringing a different and specialized kind of suffering. One of the most common torture devices was the facial harness, more popularly known as a head cage. It’s pretty creepy and disturbing, but it definitely looks cool if you have a macabre sense of aesthetics. And Lady Gaga seems to have the latter. For some strange reason, she pulled it off rather classily, and those gold accents definitely helped. But still, it doesn’t change the fact that no ordinary sane person would wear it.
5 Queen Of Hearts
If you’re gonna perform for the Queen of United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II, it’s only right to don a regal outfit, right? Well, Lady Gaga did follow that advice, but with her signature Gaga twist. Armed with her outrageous and bloody Elizabeth-inspired red dress, complete with ruffles on the neck, Gaga performed for the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance. She performed “Speechless” from her album The Fame Monster while suspended in mid-air with her 20-foot train billowing below and while wearing stilts!
Though this outfit of choice would’ve made Elizabeth Bathory proud, it is more heart-warming to know that Queen Elizabeth graced Gaga with her presence, which was a great reward for all the trouble she went through with that dress. Indeed, having the mother of Britain and Mother Monster together in one place is a royal moment worth the unique dress.
Here is a Lady Gaga dress that either looks like one of those demi-human or divine beings from a surreal high fantasy a la Pan’s Labyrinth, or an alien race from a super-soft intergalactic science fiction. Well, whether she got it from an alternate dimension where magic and some sort of overly complicated lore exists or a super-advanced sector of space, the fact is that she wore it well – at least from a human standpoint, that is. If you ignore the freakiness, you can’t deny that she carries the dress with poise and elegance, evoking a sense of power and mystique. Then again, we could be wrong, as either paper-white women from a magical realm or the female half of a white-skinned alien race — or both — might say that she’s done a poor portrayal of them. Did you even consult them, Lady Gaga? Whether or not she did, we’d never know.
3 Roses Are Red, Gaga Is Weird
High fashion is all about risqué fashion choices that either land you as a fashion icon or the worst dressed on the party list, and Gaga manages to be neither. Arriving at Roseland Ballroom in what appears to be, well, a rose, Lady Gaga donned this sheer outfit for her 28th birthday, giving a new definition for a birthday suit. Wearing towering pink platforms, this catsuit is definitely interesting. Though the outfit is a head turner, fashion critics deemed this as one of Gaga’s worst fashion moments, a mood-damper for her birthday bash outfit. She completed the outrageous outfit with a red veil that covered most of her face and it was a miracle that she could still strut her stuff with all those accessories in front of her face. But then again, this is Gaga — she knew exactly what she was doing.
2 Dressed For Dinner
If you’re looking for a good color for a solid dress, white is always a good choice. Save the fact that it easily stains, white is classy, classic and elegant regardless of shade, and perhaps even cute. Just look at Lady Gaga’s white dress, which looks like one of those fancy table napkin folding styles you’d find at a fancy event. That, however, is not to say that Lady Gaga looks as if she’s wearing something people usually use to wipe their faces with after a sumptuous and expensive meal – except she does. Sorry if we compared you again to an inanimate object Mother Monster — we still love your music. Plus, that white lace mask and that puffy headdress, which looks a bit like rising smoke, definitely complements the dress, allowing her to achieve her chosen look.
Believe it or not, this one is actually one of Lady Gaga’s more conventional outfit choices. If you are a big fan of anime, manga or Japanese pop culture or fashion in general, this one feels right at home. Iconic fictional Japanese girls like Tsukino Usagi, a.k.a. Sailor Moon, and Hatsune Miku of Vocaloid, just to name a few, sport this look, and it was a very common trend in Japan, especially in Harajuku, Tokyo’s fashion district and the overall fashion capital of Japan a decade ago. Bright and multicolored neon motif? Check. Pigtails, with even a bun on each side? Check. Dress with a frilly skirt? Check. But of course, it wouldn’t be a Gaga special if she didn’t make a few original additions. Furry leg warmers instead of socks? Check. Plastic dress? Check. Who knew Lady Gaga could be so “kawaii?” Not us, for sure. It was totally unexpected.