On May 23, Lady Gaga will release her third album, Born This Way, which the humble star promises will be “the greatest album of this decade” and “something so much deeper than … a fucking meat dress.” Since Gaga is all about transformation and the shock of the new, we asked trendsetting fashion and theatrical designers, illustrators, and cartoonists to try to top said meat dress. Just how different are the visions of this year’s Pulitzer Prize–winning editorial cartoonist, Mike Keefe, and cutting-edge couturiers the Blonds? Not as far apart as you might think.
Note: After consulting with the artist Tim Hensley we’ve decided to take down his drawing and he is donating his fee to a cleft palate charity. We offer our sincere apologies to the community.
• A Breakdown of Lady Gaga’s ‘Judas’ Looks
Reinvention Concept by musician and fashion enthusiast Derek Watkins (a.k.a. Fonzworth Bentley); design by The Vanguarde Craft & Creative “We propose a headdress à la twenties or early thirties, with a 4G twist to crystallize her as pop royalty.”
Flower Gaga Han Feng, costume designer for film, theater, and opera (including Anthony Minghella’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ at the Met)
Unicorn Glamour The Blonds (Phillipe Blond and David Blond), fashion designers “The name is pretty self-explanatory.”
Bourgeois Lady Gaga William Ivey Long, costume designer for film and theater (including ‘Hairspray’ and ‘Nine’) “The mother of American feminist identity, Louise Bourgeois, considered the spider the ultimate mother figure. In turn, Lady Gaga is considered the ultimate mother to her “little monsters.’”
Baby Gaga Ariel Schrag, author of autobiographical graphic novels including ‘Awkward’; writer for HBO’s ‘How to Make It in America’ “The dress is composed of live, squirming infants. By using naked bodies to cover her own naked body, she examines the human dichotomy of pure and obscene. The babies also represent the fluidity of identity”they’re always in motion”and the neediness of the consuming public. They’re clingy!”
Immortal Aria Suzuki Ingerslev, Emmy-nominated production designer for HBO’s ‘True Blood’ “I was influenced by the Chinese opera, where the performers wear elaborate costumes and paint their faces white. I also loved the idea of blood tears that are made out of rhinestones. The vampires on True Blood cry blood tears, and it felt dramatic and appropriate for this look.”
Scorpion Mike Keefe, editorial cartoonist for The Denver ‘Post’, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer for Editorial Cartooning “Sexy, dangerous, and a little bit creepy.”
Impunity Matthew Wright, Tony Award-nominated costume designer for ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ “In Scotland, where I was born, the official title of Lady can be used by women granted The Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Thistle by the queen. Their motto is, “No one provokes me with impunity’”a phrase with a certain Gaga ring to it! My design includes a “Thistle’ head wrap, “Highland Dress’ cape, “Sporran’ handbag, and “Stag Hoof’ boots.”
Little Monster Sound Suit Cynthia Rowley, fashion designer “Performance artist Nick Cave has created incredible performative sound suits that, to me, look like the perfect disguise for “little monsters.’” Sound suit by Cave, finished off with custom Rowley platform boots.
Gaga in Bloom Janie Bryant, Emmy-winning costume designer for ‘Mad Men’ “My outfit was inspired by Gaga’s own words: The album is “much more vocally up to par with what I’ve always been capable of. It’s more electronic, but I have married a very theatrical vocal to it. It’s like a giant musical-opus theater piece.’”
Infinity Gaga Vanessa Davis, illustrator and cartoonist, author of ‘Make Me a Woman’ “More than just a new look for Gaga, I think we just want to see more of Gaga. How can we get more Gaga?”
Lady G.G. David Rees, cartoonist and author of ‘Get Your War On, My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable, and Relationshapes’ “Now that she’s exhausted the wellsprings of Madonna and Björk, Lady Gaga should turn to another pop provocateur for inspiration: infamous nineties “scum rocker” G.G. Allin. After shortening her name to “Lady G.G.,” Ms. Germanotta should appropriate some of the late Mr. Allin’s signature moves: onstage self-mutilation, picking fights with people in the audience, and flinging excrement at the crowd. (Yes, I realize that every time Lady Gaga opens her mouth to sing, she is metaphorically flinging excrement at the crowd”I mean she should literally fling excrement at the crowd. It’s not like they wouldn’t love her for it.)”
A Star Is Born This Way Larry Krone, performer, theater costume designer, and half of the cabaret duo Childrens of Love, with Jim Andralis. House of Larreon, Oh! Couture, “Given that she’s a gay icon and gay-rights activist herself, I propose that Lady Gaga look to perhaps the most iconic of gay icons, Judy Garland, for style inspiration. I drew from Garland’s classic hobo look”first seen in Easter Parade and later featured in A Star Is Born and in her live concerts”and sexed it up for our girl Gaga.”
Lady G Tim Chappel, Academy Award”winning designer, Tony Award-nominated (with Lizzy Gardiner) for ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical’ “She wears her own personalized lighting. A pair of stereoscopic webcams offer fans streaming Lady G 3-D. As a responsible 21st-century citizen, Lady G recycles some of the thousands of kilometers of film bearing her image into another camera-hungry gown. And who needs toes when you can enjoy a pair of Permanent Barbie feet?”
“Truth, Justice and Born This Way” Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher “My goal was to showcase what made Lady Gaga so creatively dynamic”from her music to her costumes to her hair to her flair for theatrical performances”and interpret her as a thoroughly modern and contemporary superhero. Part otherworldly, part vixen, part Lady Darque, my take on Lady Gaga showcases the eclectic elements which define her talent and style.”