Lady Gaga VMA Fashion Retrospective

Lady Gaga 2009 VMAs

Lady Gaga at the 2009 Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images/PictureGroup

Once upon a time (i.e. two years ago) being a red carpet style reporter was a headache, but nothing unmanageable with a bit of Joan Rivers sass and a couple of good fashion contacts. Sure, you'd get Bjork in a swan dress or Cher missing the rear of her pants, but for the most part it was straight-forward. And then, Mother Monster came. Year zero, we like to call it in the trade. The day when the game was not only changed, but reset and rewritten by Lady Gaga.

As a first time VMA nominee in 2009, the lady arrived and then proceeded not once, not twice (a normalcy), and not even thrice. Nope. Lady Gaga switched her outfit a total of five times (six, if you include the after-party) and each one was more tongue-waggable than the one before it. The 2009 VMAs sent style writers into a tizzy for days: how audacious! How absurd! How Gaga! Let's just break down each look.


1. Gagaloo arrived to Radio City Music Hall with her infamous green date, Mr. Kermit The Frog, and a intricate feathered neckbrace by Keko Hainswheeler (the first of many injury/accident-related fashion choices the "Paparazzi" singer would make throughout the evening. Aside from the dramatic House of Blue Eyes mask (a little Phantom of the Opera, right?) and squashy Tour de Force hat, the sleek Gaultier lace floor-length gown wasn't particularly out of the ordinary; just both lacy and baroque.

2. Still one of her most memorable performances to date, Gaga's bleeding-then-dangling rendition of "Paparazzi" was remarkably powerful, leading the poor singer to "bleed" through her white Haus of Gaga lace bodysuit. The mask, once again, was Keko's, but the get-up was from her own team. When she appeared in white again, we relaxed.

3. Surely her glamorous, white sequined Gaultier illusion skirt (and that nest-like Philip Treacy bonnet contraption!) would be the last change of the evening. Nope. Not her Majesty of Gaga-dom.

Lady Gaga 2009 VMAs

Lady Gaga at the 2009 Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images/PictureGroup

4. Perhaps the look that is most memorable from Gaga's entire fashion offering at the '09 VMAs was her red queen-inspired, slightly menacing award acceptance outfit. Babies have imitated it. Eminem looked horrified by it. But the best reaction? Be impressed. Instead of going after a young ingenue for her lacy shift, Lady Gaga dug through the Alexander McQueen archive to retrieve a dress from 1998...which, in fashion years, is virtually vintage. (The crown is from the Haus, if you were keeping tabs. Which you were. Obviously.)

5. To meet her adoring press, Gags donned another Gaultier (the third of the night), this time channeling the designer's Fifth Element futurism for a textured and padded corset. (Remember this Gaga? The asymmetric, lightning bolt-loving pop star of "Poker Face"? We were so young then...)

6. Untrained eyes would think that her last look, the one that we adoringly call bridal Mickey Mouse, was a random and last minute addition, but Gaga keeps with her Gaultier theme and steps back into her fourth look (the illusion dress). This time, however, she puts some sort of orbital situation upon her dome, designed by Brit Alex Noble. And we were spent.


Surely nothing could compete with six looks, a bloody bodysuit and a lace-draped red queen from hell. Nothing Lady Gaga would present at the 2010 VMAs would ever match the pure outrageousness of the previous year's fashion smorgasbord. I mean, the only thing, at this point, that would shock us is if she arrived with a dead animal fastidiously sewn about her like it was some sort of haute couture.

And she did.

Lady Gaga 2010 VMAs

Lady Gaga at the 2010 Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images/PictureGroup

But first, Lady Gaga did a touching tribute to her dear friend Alexander McQueen (who had died early in 2010). The all McQueen white carpet ensemble was elegant, regal and included a golden mohawk. She kept the gown/mohawk/white-and-blue hair motif when she switched into a stark black look also done, head-to-toe, by Giorgio Armani. Easy night, we thought. Won't need to be up until 4 AM tracking down clothing credits. Then Lady Gaga won video of the year.

When MTV Style saw Gaga draped in the butcher's finest, we flipped into overload and immediately got the inside scoop on the meat dress. Though we were concerned with the Who's and the How's of the carnal production, our colleagues backstage got to see the reveal up close, and while many MTV-ers have years of producing awards shows under their belt, not one jaw—at home or in Los Angeles—wasn't affixed to the floor. See for yourself.


'VMAs Revealed': Lady Gaga's Iconic Dress

So, yes, Lady Gaga took a biological material and turned it into a frock, and we are still talking about it.

2011: ???

True, VMA fashion game was changed by Gaga in '09, but now anyone with a blog is taking bets, holding breaths and traipsing on pins and needles over what Gaga is going to do next. Lady Gaga revealed on "MTV First" that her fans (and anyone with eyeballs and a pulse) will not be disappointed. The likelihood is, after eight mind-shattering show outfits in merely two years, she's probably right.

+ Don't miss the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, live from Los Angeles on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 9/8c! And don't forget to vote for your favorite VMA nominees!

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