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The New Stylist Behind Lady Gaga’s Makeover

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After taking six months off to tend to a broken hip, Lady Gaga came teetering back into the spotlight this week with an album release date (November 11) and multiple public outings. Also new: her overall appearance. As her latest single cover suggests, she's revamped her look and embarked on a new phase, one that's defined by sophisticated clothing choices (Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Armani) and less weird stuff like pearls and spikes on her face.

Gaga is forever reincarnating herself. Previous phases include dressing up as her male alter ego, Jo Calderone, as well as gluing pointy prosthetics to her face. But her latest makeover seems more about stripping away than rebuilding. Her new stylist, Brandon Maxwell, said as much to WWD on Monday:

I think that this time it is about letting some of it go and the focus being on the music because now she’s comfortable being naked and being who she is. The world has seen everything.

And yes, he did mean naked, literally. But wait, who is this Maxwell person? And what happened to Nicola Formichetti, Gaga's longtime style consultant and right-hand fashion confidant? According to WWD, Formichetti has relinquished all his Gaga duties to focus on designing for Diesel and, more recently, Uniqlo:

She's going to be my BFF forever, but my ex-assistant Brandon [Maxwell] is heading that project ... I’m too busy with [other commitments]. I’ve done two albums with her, it’s been like five years, and you know, I’m always going to be involved somehow, but I cannot do it every day. She changes 12 times a day; it’s insane.

Twelve times a day is insane. But her latest appearances suggest that, under Maxwell, she's toned it down. Maybe she's breaking him in slowly? Or else he's convinced her to play it cool, or at least cooler. Since her first major public appearance this year, at the NYC Pride rally, she's worn nothing but black. (And who wears black at a Pride rally, of all places?) 

Lady Gaga at the NYC Pride rally, June 28.

She was also photographed on the street in New York wearing black platform go-go boots, a black miniskirt, and a bra. Not exactly tame, but relatively simple. You wouldn't look at someone dressed like that and think, "The only person who'd wear that is Lady Gaga," which seemed like her wardrobe mantra up until now.

Gaga in Midtown, July 11.

Her art party outfit last Saturday also consisted of a black bra and a black tank dress with armholes so expansive they reached her sternum. But still, it was just a black dress that showed skin. You could picture Erin Wasson or even Karlie Kloss in something similar.

Lady Gaga at the Watermill Center Summer Benefit, July 27.

Meanwhile, she's been almost entirely barefaced, with luminous skin but otherwise hardly any makeup. Her hair (or wig) has been down, straight, and frequently brunette. Could this be the era of a simpler Gaga? Whatever this Maxwell guy has talked her into, it's a nice change.

Photos: Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images; Rommel Demano/Getty Images; Alo Ceballos/Getty Images; Steve Sands/Getty Images

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