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From the moment that Lady Gaga entered the pop sphere (and ultimately flipped it on its head), her energetic dance anthems, soulful ballads, and eccentric outfits have left us wanting more. Within the span of five quick years, she has managed to rule the pop charts, successfully enrapturing and enlivening a generation of little monsters along the way. Today marks a new chapter in her epic musical catalog with the release of Cheek to Cheek, a delightful album of jazz standards performed and recorded with the eternally suave Tony Bennett. Comprised of 12 covers from the Great American Songbook, it marks a new era for the ever-evolving artist. We caught up with “Lady” (as she introduced herself) to talk about her most recent stylistic shift, documented in the selfie portraits that she sent exclusively to Yahoo Style.
Earlier this year it was all about ArtPop and now Cheek to Cheek, which is totally different. Congrats! How is it going?
Thank you! I’m having a magical time. I’m actually on my way to Belgium now to meet Tony and perform with him at the Grand Place. I’m so excited.
How has the fashion differed with the new album?
I tend to reflect my fashion with my mood. During ArtPop my mood was kind of a mess. It was erratic. I was shape shifting on a daily basis trying to find my happiness. With Cheek to Cheek, it’s totally different. I’m in a serene place. I feel I’m my peaceful, young musician self. I’ve been enjoying dressing up, and you know, feeling like a lady. I had been working with Tony for two years recording, and [when we started] I was quite blond, but I found the sexuality of it all to be quite distracting. It was unnatural in a way. So I began to experiment with the hair that I had back in high school. It was dark and curly. More natural. Something about jazz makes me not care about the way I look.
We caught your performance during New York Fashion Week, didn’t your sister make that dress?
Yes, she hand smocked all that leather herself. I was less comfortable being blond, but that’s okay. It was not so much about showing off the breasts or the hair. It was form fitting. The silhouette, the shape the feel. Those are all the elements that are reflected in jazz.
You recently were asked about your style and said, “I’m a different expression of the same woman”. Are you channeling different women with these varied looks?
I feel like I carry the spirit of many fashionistas that came before me. I feel a very strong kinship to them. The history of art and the history of fashion are very important to me. My fashion is something that people are going to pay attention to. They are going to talk about it. I feel very deeply for Isabella Blow. For Alexander McQueen. His fearlessness is something that I think about a lot. With this album, I am channeling his rebelliousness. Because if you think about it jazz is the most rebellious form of music. It’s totally different from my previous message where there was an intention behind each look. Jazz brings out the fighter in me. The type of clothes that I’ve been wearing is less form fitting. Other days I’ll wear something more corseted and glamorous. Right now I’m wearing a leather jacket that my sister made me with 'Cheek to Cheek' painted on the back and piercings and bleached brows.
Does Tony ever comment on your look?
I sort of expected him to be honest. I kind of expected him to say, ‘Oh she really shouldn’t wear that or perhaps you’d want to try this’, but Tony is very open to who I am. He’s very accepting of me as a person and as an artist. I’ll come downstairs wearing a dress, and he’ll say, ‘Oh Lady, you look so different today, so beautiful. Thank you for always looking so nice.’ He has a different view on things. You know when we started singing songs from the Great American Songbook…Actually Tony calls it the Fred Astaire Songbook since he really popularized that music and it introduced Fred Astaire to the world for the first time… Anyway, around that time there was Ginger Rogers who dressed so beautifully. So elegant. So I think of her. I am a woman of many references. That’s what I want my fans to take away from all of this. You can be every icon. With ArtPop you put the art first, and now I get to put my money where my mouth is. I’m doing a most rebellious thing by singing jazz. It’s so complex and so improvisational.
Let’s talk about the outfits. What do you do with all of those glorious clothes? Do you have an archive? It must be incredible!
I do. I have a huge archive in Los Angeles. It’s 40,00 square feet. I have every single outfit. All those pieces mean so much to me. I’ve kept every single one.
I don’t wear fashion, I am fashion. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant or rude or anything like that but you know when you just love something so much it just hurts. Like when the topstitching is just perfect. The beading is exquisite. It’s like a love affair. Those clothes are so special. I have another relationship with fashion that goes beyond just wearing clothes.
Not only are you fashion but also beauty. Any beauty tips to share?
I think that I am the most beautiful when I’m feeling happy. Keeping your heart peaceful. You should never wear anything you don’t want to wear. Whether you are a man or a woman you should dress and present yourself like the god or goddess that you are…
Article by Sarah Cristobal, Photography by Alex Dolan.