Unless you’ve been completely shut off from the entertainment industry lately, it’s likely that you’ve been exposed to Lady Gaga and her eccentric (okay, downright bizarre) clothing choices. Her crazy costumes shocked me at first — like the nude, skintight bodysuit in “Poker Face” or her VMA dress made entirely of Kermit the Frog puppets — but now, I’ve come to expect only the most outré outfits from Gaga whenever she makes an appearance.
But Lady Gaga took her trademark outlandish fashion to a new level with her recently released video for “Bad Romance,” which I saw for the first time a few weeks ago in one of my Comm classes. While my professor intended the video to be a lesson on product placement (the video shamelessly plugs HP and Nemiroff vodka), the only thing I could focus on was Gaga’s clothing: a showcase of designer Alexander McQueen’s latest collection.
The fashion industry was abuzz when McQueen’s Spring 2010 collection hit the runway last month, thanks to a pair of heels now dubbed the “Lobster Claws.” Standing a staggering 10 inches tall, the sight of McQueen’s “Armadillo” shoes instantly made viewers wonder, “Honestly, who would wear those?”
It has usually been the case that runway collections fall into two camps: glamorous and classic couture as seen on big screen starlets at the Oscars and, well, the crazy couture, which is reserved for the likes of showstoppers such as Gaga. Each season, a handful of designers stray into avant-garde territory, sending garments down the runway that are so bizarre, it’s likely they’ll never be seen off the catwalk.
But then, of course, what is the point? Affordability and a model physique aside, designers are expected to turn out clothing that can be enjoyed by the masses. Somehow, I don’t think the Benjamin Cho polar bear-trimmed coat (another of Gaga’s “Bad Romance” ensembles) will make it into department stores anytime soon. Yet, there seems to be a surge of these off-the-wall designs hitting red carpets and catwalks, suggesting that maybe fashion designs need not be seen as practicalities, but rather, they can be seen as works of art.
A recent spread in Harper’s Bazaar did just that with “Tim Burton’s Magical Fashion,” which paid homage to the filmmaker’s goth-fantasy aesthetic. The heel-free Nina Ricci platforms and the feathered McQueen headpiece featured in the photo shoot definitely aren’t something you’d expect to see on the street, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve an important place in the fashion world.
This season especially, big name designers are holding back and making more conservative collections — a smart move in a tough economy where consumers are looking to get maximal mileage out of their clothing. Of course, there are only so many times that we can see a black dress on the runway before it becomes a bit boring.
With that in mind, the outlandish couture pieces from Rodarte and McQueen are breaths of fresh air in an industry full of stiff, staid collections. 10-inch lobster-claw heels and sequin body suits might be a little tough for most of us to swallow, but they certainly represent the truly artistic side of fashion — even if Lady Gaga is the only one brave enough to wear them.