In the litany of descriptive phrases that have been — and can be — applied to Lady Gaga, there’s one that’s easy to overlook: New Yorker. The pop goddess and Upper West Sider had the trait on full display Monday evening as she discussed the city and the holidays with WWD amid the Technicolor merch of Gaga’s Workshop, the fifth-floor boutique at Barneys New York that is her own twist on the New York holiday routine. Dressed in a very large Chanel gown, and looking undaunted by the cartoonish installations that surrounded her (designed by Eli Sudbrack and Christophe Hamaide Pierson of Assume Vivid Astro Focus), Gaga displayed what could only be called an earnest appreciation for the holiday season punctuated by the occasional sip from her teacup. Shoppers looking for their own such mug can find a Swarovski-enhanced version for $695 in the workshop’s accessories department; there is also a $65 nonbejeweled version. (In the spirit of the season, 25 percent of all sales will go towards Gaga’s anti-bullying initiative, the Born This Way Foundation.)
WWD: You’re entering the New York holiday season tradition. As a New Yorker yourself, did you have any favorites growing up?
Lady Gaga: Well going to Rockefeller Center, seeing the tree. Just watching the snow fall in Central Park. A carriage ride around the Plaza. All sorts of things. Just really walking around Madison Avenue at this time is a completely amazing experience. What we did here at Barneys was, we tried to bridge the spirit of Madison Avenue with the spirit of downtown New York pop punk culture and create a space that had a range of prices and some very affordable gifts and some that were more expensive, but all geared towards the Born This Way Foundation.
WWD: Do you have a particular favorite item in Gaga’s Workshop?
L.G.: The hair bows. I love the hair bows. I also very much love the cookies and the chocolate McQueen armadillo heels. And this stocking right here, I love so much. The stiletto stocking?
WWD: The black patent leather one?
L.G.: Yeah. Well, I love them all. They’re all modeled after the different shoes I wear. I mean there’s so many things for everyone. There’s press-on nails. There’s sunglasses. There’s amazing jewelry made by fans. We commissioned the fans to bring their jewelry here to sell at the store. We have boxes of Little Monsters. There’s cookies that look like my outfits. There’s magnets that are dress-up Gaga dolls. There’s all sorts of things.
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WWD: The fans downstairs all seemed very Christmas-ready. Are you a Christmas person yourself?
L.G.: Yeah, I am. And they’re making me so happy being here. Honestly, this would not be possible without them. Yes I have fun fashion ideas and have a knack for trinkets, but the truth is if the love of the fans didn’t mean something powerful from a cultural standpoint, coming to Barneys to buy Gaga presents wouldn’t mean anything. They represent a beautiful message. The message of “Born This Way” runs through everything they stand for, which is probably why you felt that sense of community and Christmas when you saw them. They wanted to come here for an experience that they could enjoy together.
This story first appeared in the November 23, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: What was Christmas like in your household growing up?
L.G.: Well, my mom and dad used to leave cookies out for Santa. My sister and I would run down the stairs in the morning and Santa would always take a couple bites of the cookie, but he’d leave a little bit. He would drink all of the milk. There would be presents waiting for us. My mom would make a quiche and we would hang out all morning and open presents. My grandparents would come over and we would listen to Christmas music and make dinner and watch the snow fall outside. And that was Christmas at my house — very family oriented.
WWD: Christmas mass?
L.G.: Christmas mass? Of course.
WWD: Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
L.G.: Christmas Day.…Sometimes Christmas Eve. It depended on the year and what Grandpa was doing. Grandpa always decided when we went to mass. He’s not around anymore. He died two years ago this Christmas. But he always decided when we went to church.
WWD: All this talk about Christmas and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.
L.G.: I know. Isn’t that awful? It’s so New York of us.
WWD: What’s your plan for the rest of the week?
L.G.: I’m going to have Thanksgiving with my family and “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving” is my Thanksgiving special on ABC.
WWD: Will you watch it?
L.G.: Sure. My dad will be so excited. I actually directed it. It’s the first of two things I directed. I directed this as well as the video for “Marry the Night,” my new single.…So we’ll be watching that and eating turkey and doing what all New Yorkers do, which is getting ready for every window to be filled with Christmas cheer the next day.
WWD: What’s on your Christmas list this year?
L.G.: I already got it. I’m going to be with my family. I had a wonderfully successful year with “Born This Way.” We sold 7 million albums so far worldwide; it’s only been out for five months. And I got my first ever custom Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld.
WWD: Is this what you’ll be wearing to the unveiling tonight as well?
L.G.: This is what I’ll be wearing, and I think I also would like to be cremated in it. Is that your headline?
WWD: Final question: How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Claus?
L.G.: I still believe in Santa. He’s for sure around. He and the Easter Bunny. I’ve hung out with them and Jesus Christ a few times.
WWD: Oh, you have? What was the conversation like?
L.G.: They’re just all really good friends. They all do good things for humanity.