CHICAGO — While singer-songwriter Lady GaGa was in town here to play Lollapalooza, her itty-bitty black HotPants and high boots proved too much for one of Chicago's finest. "You need to put your ass up against the fence," the officer ordered. "There are children around here." One citation for indecent exposure later, Lady GaGa remained amused. "There's a huge festival with people doing cocaine and marijuana, and he's busting me?" the 21-year-old New Yorker asked, adding jokingly, "I really wanted to get cuffed in a jumpsuit."
Welcome to the wild, wacky world of Lady GaGa, an exhibitionistic performer who is turning heads, whether it be for her penchant for wearing underwear as outerwear or for her catchy, if somewhat recycled, Eighties-influenced synth pop songs. Although she has no qualms about lowering her keyboard to purposely bend over to reveal her cleavage, Lady GaGa prefers not to reveal her original name. "She's not here anymore," GaGa quipped about her alter ego. "She's covered in sequins."
Maybe that's because her past seems a far cry from the 42nd Street stripper shops she frequents for fashion finds. GaGa, formerly known as Stefani Germanotta, the daughter of an Internet entrepreneur and a telecommunications executive, grew up on the Upper West Side and attended the all-girls Convent of the Sacred Heart with heiress Nicky Hilton. Not surprisingly, it wasn't a perfect fit. Gaga got into trouble for hiking up her uniform skirt and wearing Converse sneakers. The fact that she arrived for class each day in full makeup and curled hair also didn't go over well.
"What are you, a lesbian? No one's looking at you," her classmates teased, GaGa said. "But I'm into theatrics," she noted. "Every morning I like to look fabulous. I like to pretend I'm famous."
Though she's not yet that celebrated, the girl who didn't fit in in high school is getting noticed now — something that sets Lady GaGa aglow.
Signed to Interscope Records but yet to release her first album, GaGa, who began playing the piano at age four and sneaking out to play coffee houses at 14, gained a following through her cheeky pop-burlesque shows at New York clubs and online. Fans could download songs "Boys, Boys, Boys," "Beautiful, Dirty Rich," "Disco Heaven" and "Dirty Ice Cream" from her MySpace page.GaGa, who go-gos on the side and takes cues from Cher, David Bowie and Madonna, makes no excuses for her style. "This is my daywear," she explained, indicating her animal-print bikini, pink sequined belt, black spandex leggings and black patent heels bought in a stripper shop. "I'm not comfortable in a T-shirt and jeans."
The performer, who describes her look as "filthy, unacceptable," makes some pieces herself, shopping at Manhattan's M&J Trimming. She also buys ready-made leggings at American Apparel and gear from stripper shops on 42nd Street. "You know where they have the 25-cent video booths?" she asked. "Upstairs they have clothes."
Her DJ partner in crime is Lady Starlight, a "30-ish" sister go-go dancer who performed in a neon-green bikini and an Iron Maiden denim vest.
"When someone sees a girl in a two-piece out on the town, people think she's a ho," Lady GaGa said. "We think that's awesome. It's rock 'n' roll. [Something more conservative would be] like David Bowie doing Ziggy Stardust in a sweat suit. No one wants to see that."
Lady GaGa doesn't stop with a bikini and black eyeliner. She'll throw in some granny pants underneath for good measure. "It's got to be funny," she said of her everyday attire. "I live for being different."
That quirkiness brightened her show, which at times could seem unpolished. At Lollapalooza, a giant disco ball descended into the middle of the stage and Ladies GaGa and Starlight stood, frozen arms in the air, complete with fog machine for campiness. Between songs, they doused their dark tresses with cans of aerosol hair spray before attempting to set a stream of spray on fire.
"I didn't want to sing about getting my heart broken or world peace," said Lady GaGa, who performed in a bra she had glued with rows of mirrors to resemble a disco ball and skimpy black panties with mirrored trim. "Fashion and attitude and style, that's what we breathe for. We joke that our full-time boyfriend is our vanity."
So Lady GaGa, who's not above doing some pole-dancing or spastic dance moves on stage, sings about partying, hangovers and text messaging boyfriends. "It's a party," she said. "Everything my [high school] friends made fun of me for is what people want more of," she said. "More sequins, more spandex, yes, please." Except, perhaps, one of Chicago's finest.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty