Lady Gaga Loves New York And Its Designers

Lady Gaga in both A-Morir and Sally LaPointe at Google.
Photo: Courtesy of Google

With an entire fashion world at her fingertips and designers literally getting made when she dons a glove or wears a bangle, Gaga can wear any item of clothing she wants (and often does). But over and over again, paying homage to her hometown and the streets that she says made her, Gaga grabs New York designers—young adults who stick to her ferocious NYC aesthetic. When sitting down with MTV, Lady Gaga didn’t perform or wear a latex condom-inspired dress, swoop in on a zip line (like she did on this morning’s Good Morning America), or even light herself on fire. Instead, she quietly, and articulately, laid out her path to Gaga-hood (Gaga-dom? Gaga-verse? Who knows.), paved on the avenues of NYC. (If you missed the incredible documentary special entitled “Inside The Outside” with a remarkably candid Gaga, you can see clips here. Or catch it when it airs again at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. today. And for every McQueen and Armani Prive she wears, there’s a New Yorker too, one less well-known… well, that was, until Gaga asked them to help define her look.

Sure, Nicola Formichetti is now a household name, and Gaga’s influence almost surely landed him his gig at Mugler. But what of her teacup? Or her straightjackets? Or the 800 other things that have set gossip blogs afire with their bizarreness (and the subsequent need for every other fashionable pop star to get something similar)? So MTV Style picked three of Gaga’s most relied-on designers—young New Yorkers like herself—who, like Gaga, get the grit of New York. Artists like Asher Levine, Sally LaPointe, and Kerin Rose have defined that Lower East Side aesthetic as interpreted by the Gaga we know: spikes, leather, dramatic liquid liner, angular shoulders. Without them, Gaga just would not be Gaga.


Lady Gaga resting on 14th Street in an Asher Levine jacket in New York City.
Photo: Terry Richardson

When Lady Gaga left an airport (in Houston, we believe?) wearing a straightjacket with massive buckles cinching the ankles, it received the typical Gaga responses. Mainstream pubs freaked out, with headlines like, “Now That’s A Crazy Jacket!” but the fashion world was a-titter. That cocoon shape! The massive, oversize hardware! Where would one even procure such a thing? Gaga tapped a 22-year-old New Yorker menswear designer Asher Levine (how strange is that?) to create her massive leathers. Levine told MTV that it actually took three whole cows for her Monster Ball jackets, and for last July’s Today Show performance, Levine was literally hand-sewing the jacket on the way to the studio in a cab. But a New York leather is a treasure to Gaga, who took the time during an interview to explain it is how she brings New York with her. “This is how I get home. My leather jacket is like my Dorothy slippers.”

Lady Gaga resting on 14th Street in an Asher Levine jacket in New York City.
Photo: Courtesy of Asher Levine

Potential Gaga wannabe ladies are out of luck (unless they don’t mind a little menswear), but Levine’s items are available and relatively reasonably priced (for locally made independent goods, that is). The incredible, hugely oversize jacket Gaga wore for her iconic Terry Richardson-shot Rolling Stone spread (and also the paparazzi shots of her giving the finger at a hot dog stand) is only $1,695. Which means, for that sort of badassedness, we will take three.


Lady Gaga at CES on Jan. 6, 2011, and the design she wore from Sally LaPointe’s Spring 2011 collection.
Photo: Getty Images/Sally LaPointe

Rhode Island School of Design graduate Sally LaPointe has only shown her geometric suits and dresses at two NY Fashion Weeks—both downtown and only attended by the avant elite—but we have a feeling that her next show won’t be so underground. LaPointe has been a Gaga staple since she appeared as a dark bride during this winter’s CES, wearing a piece actually off of LaPointe’s runway (a rarity, since Gaga often gets things specially made). Then again, she appeared to talk at Google with a ’80s-inspired suit jacket made by the 26-year-old, and once again, on Oprah. Perhaps the piece that Gaga aficionados might recognize best is from her video for “Judas,” when Gaga imitates the Botticelli masterpiece “The Birth of Venus” in a triangular shouldered latex vest, which is both baroque and page straight out of the book of Gaultier. (Is there such a book? There ought to be.)

Lady Gaga performing on ’Oprah.’
Photo: Photo: Courtesy George Burns/Harpo Studios

LaPointe is selected for Gaga’s “official” moments, perfectly nailing the businesswoman-ambassador-to-hell vibe. Her collection is stark and cutting-edge, the dramatic leather shoulders are TDF and showcase Gaga’s bangin’ bod in a sexy, but surprisingly understated way. While not as bombastic as Levine or Rose, the designer’s tailoring and sharp structure are strictly New York.


Lady Gaga performing on NBC’s “Today” in New York on July 9, 2010, and a product shot of the A-Morir Wolfgang glasses she wore.
Photo: Getty Images/Courtesy of A Morir

In 2008, after various stints in marketing and editorial, Kerin Rose decided to launch an eyewear collection that was grandiose, daring and incomparably awesome. The resulting, A-Morir by Kerin Rose, features dazzling constellations of hand-placed Swarovski crystals, menacing metal spikes, delicate lace overlays, rubber spines, and yards of metal chains. Unsurprisingly her celebrity clientele is similarly diesel, but the frames are a Gaga constant, namely the numerous occasions where Gaga selected A-Morir’s Wolfgang sunglasses and multiple subsequent collaborations with Haus of Gaga.

With teacup raised and fingerless gloves gallivanting in NYC.
Photo: Courtesy of A-Morir

“The greatest advantage with working with the Haus of Gaga, aside from their unwavering kindness, is that they trust the artists they work with,” says Rose. “They furnish you with a few adjectives and believe you’ll turn out what you do best.” Such errantly tossed out adjectives resulted in an infamous teacup that Gagaloo daintily drank out of on multiple appearances and fingerless gloves that were both inspired by Rose and Gaga’s hometown of New York.

“New York artists are scrappy,” continues Rose of her cohorts, “Their work displays this great high/low interplay because we have access to both constantly. I’ve seen Macbeth at Lincoln Center and someone get stabbed at a CBGB show. It’s a “jolie laide,” this pretty/ugly, this street smart/book smart dichotomy that makes Gaga fantastic to work with and extremely compelling.”