Lady Gaga's recent visit to London has delivered enough crazy outfits to last us a lifetime — but now many of the squeals of delight and inquisitive looks are being replaced with groans and eye-rolls. Of course, the changeling queen of pop is working hard to promote her new album, ARTPOP, and the stakes are higher than ever.
Is it desperate? Maybe — just a bit. Gaga is a promotional machine, a necessary quality for any artist seeking sustained popularity. She is also incredibly nimble and ever-evolving. Miley Cyrus has no more than two tricks up her sleeve: down-home country girl and naked licker-of-inanimate-objects. Katy Perry is either vying for your affection as a nerdy underdog or seeking a slice of the Nicki Minaj pie with brightly colored getups. But, our girl Stefani? She is many things.
What other pop star has such a commitment to performance? While others might try to tug at our heartstrings with carefully orchestrated glimpses into their "real" personalities, anyone with eyeballs or eardrums can tell these are usually as fake as cheese delivered via aerosol can. Gaga has never argued that fame and stardom are entirely superficial acts.
She's desperate for your attention, but not your affection, and she won't shy away from her desperation. Instead, Gaga makes a statement on it. She's not a fashion plate, and she's not selling a lifestyle — there aren't hordes of fans ordering a particular piece after she wears it out. She's engaging with couture at the very highest and most conceptual level. She and Daphne Guinness are probably two of the only people on Earth at that level. While Miranda Priestly had a point that even the most far-fetched runway costumes have an effect on bargain-bin styles, there's also a majesty and fantasticality about fashion shows themselves that is often lost on those who aren't in the audience.
Gaga is, in effect, bringing couture's craziest to the masses. She has done the impossible and added a living, real-world element to the perception of something meant to exist only inside the museum-like world of the catwalk. Like everything she does, it's an experiment in mixing the most rarified bits of culture with the mainstream fodder of pop. And, we have a feeling Mr. McQueen would be proud.