The Evolution of Gaga

To prepare for her Wednesday-night show, we review Lady Gaga's most outrageous dresses from the past five years.

By Kerry H. and Michael Hardy July 15, 2014

Lady Gaga ArtRave: The ArtPop Ball
July 16 at 7:30
Toyota Center
1510 Polk St.  

When Lady Gaga and her entourage roll into town on Wednesday night for the Houston stop on her latest world tour, they'll undoubtedly be toting along several trunks full of costumes—advance forecasts warn of DayGlo paint, clamshell bikinis, tentacles, and bejeweled wings. To prepare ourselves for the spectacle, we decided to take a look back at five years of the pop singer's most outrageous, edgy, or simply insane (we're thinking here of the meat dress) outfits, many created by the much-touted Haus of Gaga, the diva's in-house design team. Starting in 2008, the year she released her debut album The Fame, and ending in 2014, here are 13 of our favorite looks, with commentary by On the Town editor Michael Hardy and ShopTalk editor Kerry H. 

Fashion week in Berlin, 2008

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Kerry: Finally, someone figured out how to wear a bandage dress without looking like a desperate sorority girl. Just dress your top half like a Transformer. 

Michael: Little Red Riding Hood meets Ziggy Stardust. 

The Accessories Council's 13th Annual ACE Awards, 2009

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Michael: If we know one thing about Lady Gaga, it's that she really, really hates pants. For me, the bra outside the shirt is what makes this work, along with the Miss Havisham veil. 

Kerry: I guess paranormal romance still seemed like an edgy category in 2009. 

CD signing in L.A., 2009

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Michael: The ridiculously high Bowie-esque shoulder pads only partially redeem this otherwise bland jumper/tuxedo. Maybe she's onto something with the whole no-pants thing. 

Kerry: I'm actually a lot more impressed with the guy on the Segway. 

Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, 2010

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Michael: She's wearing what looks like a blown-up version of one of those tiny umbrellas that come in mixed drinks, fed through a paper shredder and reassembled. One of her best outfits, IMHO. 

Kerry: This is made more fantastic by the fact that the tights read like leg hair. 

MTV Video Music Awards, 2010

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Michael: Like her idol Madonna, Gaga loves playing with Catholic imagery. This dress looks like it was made out of a canvas ripped off the walls of the Louvre and attacked with a bedazzler.

Kerry: The Church of Rome meets Native American fetishism meets the animated 1980s TV show Jem. Well done. 

Grammy Awards, 2010

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Michael: Looks like a collaboration between Cher, Liza Minnelli and Umberto Boccioni.

Kerry: Looks a lot like a Trapper Keeper I had in 1989. By which I mean that I approve. 

MTV Video Music Awards, 2010

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Michael: Argentine designer Franc Fernandez created this dress out of raw beef, predictably infuriating animal rights groups. After taxidermists dried out the costume—essentially turning it into dress jerky—it went on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Kerry: This dress constructed of raw cow would be so boring on its own. Thank god she jazzed it up with fishnets and silver.

Michael: Always accessorize.

Good Morning America, 2011

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Michael: More Havisham-esque lace, this time complemented by a Batwoman mask, sheer leotard, and black Goth fingernails. Good morning America, indeed. 

Kerry: This one doesn't come together, somehow. Needs more meat. 

Leaving the Dorchester Hotel in London, 2012

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Michael: The only hats more outrageous than Gaga's are worn by attendees of the Royal Ascot horse race, so it was entirely appropriate for the singer to don this elaborate floral headpiece for her London stay. She even seems to be giving the traditional hand-only royal wave. 

Kerry: I feel like she has just walked out of a British institution for the housing of wayward girls. 

Glamour Woman of the Year Awards, 2013

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Michael: I can't decide whether she looks more like a character out of a Tim Burton movie or a wax figure from Madame Tussauds. 

Kerry: It just occurred to me that whoever is in charge of costuming for The Hunger Games owes a huge debt to Lady Gaga. 

H&M Times Square opening, 2013

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Michael: Pretty sure she didn't get that Joan Mitchell–style jumpsuit from H&M. Or those eight-inch heels. 

Kerry: This is adorable, and tame for Gaga. Probably something she wears around the house, or to do some light gardening when she knows the "Stars! They're Just Like Us!" paparazzi are around the corner. 

86th Academy Awards, 2014

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Kerry: There is something whimsically menacing about the way she has bound her scarf to her wrist, as if she is on her way to skin some Dalmatians. Or maybe I'm just paying too much attention to the sign in the background. 

Michael: The art deco detailing on this ballgown evokes the Hollywood of Marilyn Monroe, Veronica Lake, and Jayne Mansfield. Who said Gaga couldn't be classy? 

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