Since she insisted we "Just Dance" in sequins and shades back in 2008, Lady Gaga has worn and discarded thousands — literally, thousands — of iconic looks. Mention her name in a conversation and the likelihood of two people thinking of the same ensemble is slim, and that's simply because there are so many classic outfits of hers that come to mind: The torn denim and broad-brimmed pink hat she wore throughout her Joanne period, the alien aesthetic of Born This Way, the infamous meat dress she wore to the 2010 VMAs, etc.
When director Chris Moukarbel set about filming Gaga: Five Foot Two, he wanted to work in Gaga's history without getting too caught up in the glitzy, glam, and gross skins shed by pop's most daring chameleon. "There isn’t really much archival in the film or any history, because it’s so vast," he tells MTV News. "I knew early on that it was like, this can of worms, and once I went down that path, I wouldn’t even really know — how do you even tell that story in a hundred minutes?"
He did so by focusing on Gaga's staggering personal and professional challenges of the last year, and in one scene, Moukarbel's lens caught Gaga in an especially vulnerable moment as the paparazzi swarmed her when she was leaving the studio. This was shot on the day that Gaga sent the final cut of Joanne off to the label, and for Moukarbel, her walk from the studio to the car was so much more than a routine, flashbulb-popping stride.
"You see dozens of visions of herself from past moments, as she walks from the door to the car, because it’s something she’s done over and over again," Moukarbel explains. "At the beginning of her career, she really treated it like a runway. Every day she was changing her look. People talked about how Madonna would change her look per album cycle, and that was breaking the mold at the time. But Gaga was doing it daily, and she was really the first pop star of the social media era. It really, in a way, contributed to her rise, because she was creating content every single day. This fit perfectly into the model for content creation: These blogs needed a new look every day, and she would do that. She would reinvent."
This speaks to where Gaga's currently at, as much of Gaga: Five Foot Two ruminates on the distance she puts between herself and the Gaga of yesteryear, the one who'd readily reach for meat dresses and other shocking sartorial choices. It was never just about the clothes, and Moukarbel wanted to stress that.
"I didn’t want to undermine or undercut how important that was," he continues. "Even though she’s not doing that now, it’s an important part of her legacy. It wasn’t just fashion: These were really kind of totally revolutionary statements and ways of playing with persona and image. That scene, when she walks from the door to the car, and we’re suddenly hit with these flashbacks to her previously selves, it’s what I call the Hall of Mirrors — this funhouse moment where she’s confronted by every single time she’s done that walk. The film doesn’t have much [archival footage] at all, but there’s that one little moment where you’re reminded of exactly who you’re dealing with."