"It's kind of a beef jerky dress now," explains longtime Gaga collaborator Nicola Formichetti.

By Courtney Higgs
May 30, 2019 @ 3:30 pm
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

We’ve known for weeks that Lady Gaga had something big up her sleeve. When she wheeled a custom wagon adorned with “Haus of Gaga” across this year’s Met Gala pink carpet, rumors started swirling that she was hinting at a new product line. And when she took to Twitter on May 23 to post the black-and-white Haus of Gaga logo with the words "Las Vegas" flashing in pink neon across the center, the internet again erupted with speculation about what the artist could be teasing.

Well, Little Monsters, the wait is over: Lady Gaga has opened her very own costume exhibition on the Las Vegas Strip. The brand new space, Haus of Gaga/Las Vegas, opened on May 30 inside the Park MGM Hotel, adjacent to the theater where the performer will also be kicking off the second installment of her wildly popular “Enigma” residency through Nov. 8 of this year.

Haus of Gaga/Las Vegas will be an ever-changing, immersive experience where fans can come check out the Academy- and Grammy-award winner’s most iconic fashion pieces from stage shows, red carpet appearances, music videos, and more. Curated by long time Haus of Gaga collaborator and Fashion Director Nicola Formichetti, the retrospective includes iconic cultural moments like the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards meat dress, the iridescent Versace bodysuit worn during her 2017 Super Bowl performance, and even a costume from her role as Ally Maine in A Star is Born.

Formichetti gave us an exclusive tour inside the new space and answered all our burning questions about the prolific performer and her most daring looks. Keep scrolling for his take on fashion, taking risks, and what he loves most about working with Gaga.

Courtesy of Haus of Gaga

OK, so let's start with the meat dress. Can you talk about the process of preserving it to be displayed here in this case?

This one is a very special moment for us. It was 2010 for the MTV Music Awards and it was quite the controversial piece at that time. So, initially we kept it in a freezer for a while and then we decide to dry it so that we could keep it properly. That was a bit of a process. We won't talk about the entire process, but it's here! It's kind of a beef jerky dress now.

What's your favorite piece in this exhibit?

One of my favorite pieces is the cigarette sunglasses that we made on the music video set of "Telephone." It's just sunglasses with cigarettes attached, but it feels very special for us, because we made everything on the spot, on location. And it was a very dangerous! She was wearing it with the cigarettes burning. It was such a moment for us.

The cigarettes were actually lit?!

Yeah! She really commits to everything.

Courtesy of Haus of Gaga

Oh, there's a mannequin hanging from the ceiling here, what's that?

That’s from the MTV Music Awards when she performed “Paparazzi.” If you remember, the performance was that she bleeds to death, so we had blood coming out from the chest and then she goes up in the air. So those stains are from the actual performance.

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Before they came to be displayed here, where were these pieces being housed?

We have a base — a large, secured space in California where we keep everything very temperature controlled — our archive. We respect fashion, fashion designers, and artists so much that we want to keep them in very good condition.

Like a museum?

Exactly. So, this is kind of a museum. Of course they're not on these silver mannequins in the archive, normally they're more secured with bags on top and temperature controlled. But I love the way we styled them here, because when you start putting all her wigs on top it really captures that moment. We actually got quite emotional because we never look back. At the Haus of Gaga we always look forward, always trying to do new things. It's all about looking forward. So, to have a space that is about her past is a strange feeling, but we wanted to do it for her fans.

Courtesy of Haus of Gaga

So, these looks won't always be here, right? They'll rotate with other looks from over the years?

We want this place to be an ever-evolving space. We are already thinking about doing something completely different next time. We want to switch the outfits, because here we've focused mostly on her earlier costumes mixed with her more recent stuff. But there's so many aspects to Gaga, so I want to keep changing it up.

What's it like as a designer to work with someone like Gaga, who uses fashion to speak to larger social issues?

Well, everything is about collaboration. We'd never just pull a dress or ask someone to design a dress for her. It's never like that. It's a whole process. We study a lot, we research a lot, we look into the past, the future, what's happening around the world. The Haus of Gaga is an evolving group of people, and of course she's the face and the one wearing everything, but she's very much involved as a part of the creative process.

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By the way, what do you call her? Lady Gaga? Stephanie?

Everyone calls her Gaga or LG.

What's your favorite part about working with her?

On top of her being the most incredible and talented performer and artist, she really respects artists and creative people. She was one of the first ones to push me to do my own stuff. She's just very considerate of other artists and creatives. She really elevates us to do better. So, we design, we study, and we create, but then just before the performance or just before the event, we’ll twist it — and that's when the magic happens. That's when the Gaga comes out and what makes her so different from other people. She takes risks.

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Are there plans for a clothing line inspired by these iconic looks?

We're going to have exclusive products here on top of all the concert merch. We got inspired by the space so much that we decided to make special pieces that will be kind of an exclusive collection here. We'll start dropping things when we open to the public [on May 30].

Do you have any words for the Little Monsters?

Actually, we've been working very closely with some Little Monsters on this. We've picked a couple of them that we have relationships with and I've been working very closely on it to create this project. I've asked them their favorite outfits and what kind of stuff they want to see. They keep all the information and the dates, so we were actually checking facts with Little Monsters. It's so beautiful, they know everything. I'm so thankful for them.

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