No matter how talented or creative you are, finding a signature style that represents who you are while communicating your overall message effectively is a journey that takes absolute dedication. To me, no one currently encompasses the ability to do this better than Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga is at the top of my list for “Most Inspirational Style” because of her ability not only to pull off virtually anything she wears, but her astute execution of transforming into a complete character and mastering all the variables involved in each unique wardrobe choice. This impeccably executed style approach has now cemented her into fashion history forever. So much so that every current music artist and their management teams try to replicate this successful style marketing model.
Gaga’s taste is incredibly impeccable. When she came onto the scene she started hair trends almost immediately. One of my boyfriends cousins is celebrity hair stylist Sid Curry who did her hair a few times most notable for her hair in the Pokerface and Bad Romance music videos. Sid also did Mariah Carey and is responsible for her most iconic hairstyles from the 90s on. Sid is dope – so just knowing that Gaga had him on her team at that point in her career shows me she knew what was up. You can have all the money and resources in the world but the wearer bears all responsibility for pulling off any element of their “style”.
The truth is, no stylist or designer can teach you how to act cool in an outfit, we merely provide the clothing. And that’s not to put down any other designers or stylists whatsoever. The ability to relay your style message effectively via clothing is in the hands of the wearer and only the wearer. As a stylist I do find myself taking on the role of therapist quite often – but no matter how much someone pays me to tell them they’re perfect – I don’t give in, I’m always honest. If something you try on doesn’t look right or I don’t believe you have the ability to “pull it off” in the moment, I would never suggest you go out in public wearing it. I do know some stylists who don’t do that but I’m just really picky personally and I think of my clients as my WORK. I wouldn’t let my work walk out on the street or in front of a camera looking janky or inauthentic, this is why I screen all potential clients before and during consultation. If we aren’t a match due to what we offer to the stylist+client relationship – I won’t take a paycheck JUST because I need the money. Money is the easiest thing in the world to earn – authenticity and work that I am proud of, is not. I’m really good at pairing one of my stylist friends with a client I don’t sync with so I never leave anyone hanging. I just manage my work very well and can offer solutions when a problem arises but I always keep it professional and real. Both of our images count on it 😉
Every modern artist who wears an outlandish outfit is now considered “Copying” the top dressed female performers like either: Cher, Madonna or recently notable Lady Gaga. As a Millennial, historically Gaga is the most recent reference point as a purveyor of the costuming trend so I always use her as a current reference because of the timing of her style movement in the industry and the relevance it gave her music and identity. She broke the style mold the 90’s and early 2000’s music filtered into the mainstream media. When she started even in the nightclubs in sf and LA at tiger heat, she was alternative 100%. And although her own idols did similar things with styles in their own right before her, Gaga pushed things to an extreme that eventually “spoke to me” more than her music did. That’s just my discovered personal connection with her art as I found myself constantly wondering what she was wearing instead of what song she had out. Her first two albums were my favorite – after that it’s been her fashion that has kept my interest. I even watched American Horror Story just to see what she was wearing. I already knew she was a great actress, I’ve watched her wear outfits for years on tv. She played a role every, single, time.
I understand the value in not only having a strong sense of personal style, but when applicable, using creativity to go a step further and creating a character or persona with said style. Hence my established creation: FAKEBESTFRIEND. It was never a conscious decision to “create a character” but I’m glad I continued in the direction I went because it has helped me harmoniously establish myself as a strong person with a strong brand. There were no style blogs when I was growing up – we had fashion magazines, tv and then eventually some the first social networks. I remember when Bryanboy started blogging before anyone knew him because when you’re gay and asian or pacific islander any other person relatable to you is so rare and word travels fast. I was really jealous of his name brand stuff- but that’s what actually turned me off from following mainstream fashion was I couldn’t dream of affording expensive clothing so I really bought into how strong and cool a person was in clothing. Not how much money they spent. I never wanted to read a blog and feel like I couldn’t look good without money – and I think that’s the important issue I stress with my methods because brand names don’t make you who you are. We are all individual human beings therefore we are all our own brands.
By the time I was big on myspace I had already established my aesthetic which was mainly inspired by japanese harajuku culture, musicians and models which were all 10-15 years ahead of the US fashion scene for sure. Growing up in Hawaii, helped me. The lifestyle of beaches and laid back attitudes speaks to me but the way people dress back home never has excited me one bit. I love when someone that knows Hawaii well is surprised I’m from there like the “BUT HOW” tone in their voice when learning I’m from a lil island, gives me a laugh. Truthfully, how can I explain that? I knew what I didn’t like – that was as much as I knew. And it grew from my alternative approach rebelling against brands I couldn’t afford to allowing my creativity to guide my interests and be the truest version of myself. I turned a negative feeling about image into a weird cult-mindset I’ve always had about image. Probably due to my OCD tendencies.
Technology fed me ideas of what I was “able” to look like and because I was exposed to basically zero style I liked from the people I was around growing up. The magazines and internet were my bible. That is where I could find style that was completely different than anything I saw before, and thats how I was inspired to take risks and really do what I wanted with my image. As Myspace grew and I was involved more in the rock music and the LA “scene” culture and style – that exposure-pushed me to evolved from color and print wardrobe pieces being “okay” to wear, into all black everything 100% of the time. I always had the same hair and look overall though, don’t misunderstand me. I just specifically threw away any piece of clothing that wasn’t a shade of black – it was a fun phase but now, I see black as the staple for every category in your wardrobe, and any colors or prints are reserved for special looks.
Despite not having an awareness of what I was doing with style growing up – I always consult my clients today just to trust me when I say that no matter what you do in life, applying the branding element into your thought process when creating your wardrobe will change your life. It will really train you to be a better dresser, shopper and overall success in your daily activities. Look, If you wanna be a boss, dress like one. Boom, you look the role and are guaranteed to be more successful than when you didn’t look the part. Is it even possible for me to stress enough that eventually, you will in fact become the goals you set, zero doubts allowed. Sounds easy enough right? Fashion is a voice when you don’t quite know how to say something. It can give you a sense of importance if you feel less-than and that is what I refer to when I say “persona” or “character”. I don’t mean it in terms of faking your authentic self. Fake your confidence until you learn yourself so well, you’re living a fulfilling life. Those are the kinds of fake that are okay.
Lady gaga absolutely did have connections with stylists, one in particular had the biggest influence on her in MY opinion and thats B.Akerlund. But like I said earlier, it doesn’t matter how avant garde something is if you are not the person to pull it off, you won’t. The complete package, is what Lady Gaga possesses and what should be set as an example for an ultimate style goal.
All in all, I know these photos are not completely representative of Lady Gaga’s full style potential and thats what I love about them. They show her before she was famous and had the right people around her to help build her message. They show a glimpse into a transition period that really makes you wonder if she hadn’t done just one thing differently and taken a different style path – what would it have been? What if she had randomly got pregnant, stopped doing music and married she wall street dude and then got addicted to J.Crew catalogs or something?!?! Could you imagine?! I wonder if Britney would’ve been evolved into the Gaga….Honestly probably not.
Never underestimate the power of fashion. And no haters: It’s not superficial and it’s not stupid. Style is a tool you can use to create a beautiful life, a strong sense of self-awareness and hopefully a message so powerful you impact people around the world with just a dress zip or a heel click.