When it comes to beauty, no-one is more fearless than Lady Gaga. Stylist is granted a private audience with the queen of reinvention...
Words: Joanna McGarry. Images: Lady Gaga Fame
No-one could ever accuse Lady Gaga of monotony. This is what I found myself musing on a brisk evening outside Harrods, waiting for her to appear for the launch of her inaugural fragrance, Lady Gaga Fame. When she did, it was from inside an opulent horse-drawn carriage. This is, you recall, one week after she took up residence in the window of New York’s Guggenheim and got a tattoo on the back of her head while sitting inside a giant rendition of her perfume bottle. Shy, she is not. So, when I was granted a private audience with the woman herself, I knew I was in for a ride. Languidly draped across a throne-like chair (occasionally catching herself in the mirror next to us), there’s something endearingly charming about Lady Gaga. And even a little vulnerable. She’s tiny, and far prettier in the flesh; all full lips and satin skin – though of course, she’s hiding it under a gold metal RoboCopstyle eye mask. Despite neglecting to ever properly answer my questions, what she did say (in her curiously British twang) was as explosive as it was brilliant. I give you, Lady Gaga.
Do you use hair and make-up to express a particular persona?
I just love to have fun and be experimental with all sorts of things. I’m a naturally very creative person. So when I see things that are interesting, I want to wear them or show people them or sing about them. I have an attraction to uniqueness. Perhaps that also explains a bit about the scent as well. It’s about people being attracted to something that’s unique.
Do you feel like you transform in the make-up chair, going from one element of your character to another one?
I would think I’d be f*cking crazy if I thought about myself the way that you think about me! No, I just take a warm bath, smoke a doob, lay back and relax, you know?
What’s the beauty look that most represents who you are?
As myself? I would say when I’m in the bath, naked, in a sea of bubbles going, “Aaaah.” That is most me – when I’m sighing out the whole day into a warm bath. So I guess what I’m saying is when I’m wearing the bathtub. The bathtub outfit.
Can make-up and feminism ever truly be friends?
You know what’s so funny is, I actually think there’s a new feminism that is completely different and I don’t think either is better or worse. Any kind of feminist has valid views for herself about what it means to be a feminist, but, as a new-age feminist, I would say I quite like the transference of strength I feel by submitting to a man – being under him. I actually wrote a song about it on my album, it’s called GUY and it stands for Go Under You. So wearing make-up, smelling delicious and having suckable, kissable, edible things between your limbs is something I find strengthening because I know that when I pick the right guy, I can let him have it. Some women feel oppressed by make-up and clothing, and here’s to them, they have every right to feel that way as well.
Do you see your expression through beauty as an art form? And if so, how does it feel to dissect it?
If I wasn't working on my record, I might say, “Yeah, f*ck off, I don’t want to talk about make-up”, but when I’m working on music, I need every palette and paint at my disposal, so I like to talk about everything all the time. The way that I approach doing a fragrance is sort of like Pop Art. It’s about the commercialism of bottling fame. Everything about this fragrance reeks of a high-school artistic statement about how fame is horrible and ugly – but it smells delicious. There’s something quite juvenile about the whole thing. But to make a point of it, I’m saying anybody can have Fame – it’s £24.50! That’s the art of it.
Do your own personal beauty experiences still influence how you present yourself today?
Do you know what’s really funny, and I was kind of afraid to admit this, but I’m just going to say it anyway, ‘cos I think my fans will really appreciate it. I am throwing my best friend an engagement party this weekend, and I’m going to be seeing all these girls from high school, and I would be totally lying to you if I didn’t say I was worried about how I’m going to look! I was saying earlier, “I have to look fabulous, I have to look absolutely amazing, some of them were horrible to me!”
Why do you think women often use other women’s looks against them?
I think women are just, for no reason, wretched to each other all the time, and I don’t think they use clothes or men or perfume or make-up or anything more than they use anything else. We should all make an effort to be nice to one another all the time.
Tell me about your ‘Body Revolution’ [which encourages her fans to celebrate their flaws]?
I've realised I don’t have to do very much anymore but make music, because my fans do it all for me. They carry the message so far. Ever since they saw how much Born This Way could affect people, they wanted to do more and have that sort of space of kindness and compassion. I was acutely aware of some photos on the internet – my mum called me and was like, “Did you gain weight?” – everybody was telling me about it, and I didn't really care. But when I heard it was on the news, where they talk about wars, the economy crashing and the election – I just thought, ‘This is f*cking ridiculous.’ I mean, what kind of example is that to a young girl sitting at home? I thought, well I don’t really care if they think I’m fat, because, quite honestly, I did gain about 30 pounds. Adele is bigger than me, how come nobody says anything about it? She’s so wonderful and I think her confidence is something I have to match. She has set the bar very high for a lot of woman. I need to be a confident woman and just say politically active things when I can that are helpful to young people.
Does the notion of being sexually attractive to the opposite sex factor in to how you present yourself?
Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes I think, “Well, no-one’s going to want to f*ck me in that!”
What makes you feel more beautiful – a compliment from a man or a woman?
Well, not just any man. A certain man.
What would be your beauty mantra for Stylist readers?
Sit in front of the mirror with all of the paints and colours and wigs that you have at your disposal, and just have a real talk with yourself. “What do I not like about me?” And then, peer into the mirror – and just f*cking draw right over it because that’s what make-up is here for. We’re not all perfect – it’s meant to be fun so we can bond as women, and say, “You know, what? We don’t all feel perfect, but did you try that lipstick? It’s divine.”
Lady Gaga Fame, £24.50, is available from Harrods
How well do you know Lady Gaga ? Find out with our ultimate Gaga quiz