Tuesday, 7 June 2011

CFDA Awards 2011: It's A Gaga Affair


The 10th Annual CFDA Awards took place last night at New York's Lincoln Center and aside from some of America's fashion elite taking home gongs to put on their inevitably stylish mantlepieces, it was also a night that celebrated the lady who likes to push the boundaries with her off-kilter fashion choices (that's a nice way of saying "just plain crazy") - yes the lady they call Gaga. 
But before I go on about the Mother Monster and her new Anna Wintour-esque bob wig (a turquoise no-no) and Mulger bustier with a trail a corpse bride would be proud of, here's the full list of winners:

Womenswear Designer of the Year: Proenza Schouler
Menswear Designer of the Year: Michael Bastian
Accessory Designer of the Year: Alexander Wang
Swarovski Award for Menswear: Robert Geller
Swarovski Award for Womenswear: Prabal Gurung
Swarovski Award for Accessory Design: Eddie Borgo
International Award: Phoebe Philo
Media Award: Hilary Alexander
Founders Award: Hal Rubenstein
Fashion Icon Award: Lady Gaga
Geoffery Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Marc Jacobs
Board of Directors' Special Tribute: Arthur Elgort

And WELL DONE!! to Hilary Alexander for scooping the Eugenia Sheppard Award. As fashion director of the Telegraph, Hilary, who is set to retire this year said: "Firstly, I'm hugely honoured, secondly, I feel that I'm getting it not just for myself but for the entire British fashion industry and British fashion journalism".
Aww. Big up the H! And proving just why (aside from being one of the best fashion writers/editors this country will ever know who also sneaks quick fags between fashion shows, god love her!), she signed off her awards thank you speech by saying she would use the heavy trophy as a weight to work out with, to stave off "bingo wings."  Isn't she just all kinds of Tina Turner, eg; SIMPLY THE BEST.


Now back to Lady Gaga, who won the Fashion Icon Award at last night's ceremony. Previous winners have included supermodel ImanSarah Jessica Parker,Nicole KidmanKate Moss, and C.Z. Guest. So from designers muses and actresses to classicists, it appears this year the CFDA opted for someone whose style is not only gravity defying (heel-less shoes of course) but also convention defying - raw meat dresses, frocks adorned with Kermit the Frogs, bubble-wrap style leotards, hatching from an egg wearing Madonna's old Blonde Ambition ponytail and of course the more recent prosthetic latex-covered pregnancy belly - yes, Gaga is in a world of her own (up top too).

But a Fashion Icon...really?

Breaking the monotony of the red carpet and giving us all something to tweet about the next day, yes. But someone on a par with Grace KellyJackie Onassis,Twiggy, or Marisa Berenson who put the 'super' in model in the 60s and is the granddaughter of couturier Elsa Schiaparelli?? No. I don't think Gaga could ever be compared to those trailblazers. But if you want instant PR and a clothes horse who can shift fashion quicker than Kate or Naomi ever could, you can't go wrong with the Gaga. Just look what she's done for the brand Mugler....before she endorsed the womenswear collection (and the label employed Creative Director Nicola Formichetti, Gaga's favourite little monster), fashion had forgotten Mugler. Now even taxi drivers know who and what Mugler is, seriously...I had a conversation with one about the label just the other day!

But perhaps it's the designers, forward-thinking stylists and fashionistas who work with the singer that should be credited with her "iconic" style status - after all, they're the visionaries who create the looks we all say "Wow" or "Oh..." to when we see her. Even Gaga herself thinks the same, telling the audience at last night's ceremony: “I can’t believe I’m allowed in here" before thanking the designers and editors in the room for “making me feel like a star before I was” one. Quite. We all remember the video for her debut single "Just Dance" where she pranced around scantily clad in just a poncho with an inflatable killer whale. Little did we know the wackiest was yet to come. But could we really say that what has followed is iconic?

Take her wigs for instance. Cher's already been there done that and had numerous face lifts to complement her faux follicles. Then there's the video for "Alejandro" which just so happened to be stylistically similar to Madonna's "Express Yourself" - so much so that US writer Camille Paglia observed that "Gaga has borrowed so heavily from Madonna that it must be asked, at what point does homage become theft?". And of course there is an element of glam-rock to everything Gaga does on and off-stage, a trend already championed by Marc Bolan, Elton and David Bowie - and surprise surprise, Gaga's blue, lightning-bolt shaped sticker beneath her right eye in the video for her debut single "Just Dance" was a tribute to Bowie, cited as her music idol.

I do think it's fair though to credit Gaga with being anything but ordinary when it comes to fashion. Her style transformations may not have revolutionised pop culture (in my humble opinion), but they've provided a generation with a new eccentric who will be remembered in fashion's archives for a long time to come. The late greatVogue fashion editor Diana Vreeland once said, “Never fear being vulgar, just boring.”
So those typically vertiginous black platforms and the custom Mugler bustier she wore to last night's CFDA ceremony - which gifted us her breasts when she leaned forward for photographers and her bare ham hocks when she turned around - would have made Vreeland smile.


And it wasn't just Gaga's buttocks that provided the usual "OMG" revelation of the night. The singer also revealed how Vogue US Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintourtexted her to tell her she had won the CFDA Fashion Icon Award. But thinking it was another Anna in her phonebook (like Gaga just lists her as 'Anna', that's hilar!) she texted back, "Yes, bitch, we did it."
That's as cringe-worthy as having your skirt tucked into your knickers and walking the entire length of Oxford Street completely unawares, until a nice old lady finally points out your undergarment faux pas. Huge. Rock. Hide. Under. Please.
But in true ice-queen mode, Wintour's response to Gaga's embarrassing text was: "How lovely". Probably typed on her throne of bones made from past interns while stick insects with duck pouts threw silk Hermes scarves around her.

That reminds me of the time I worked as an in-house PR intern for Tanya Sarne (founder of Ghost) and she clicked her fingers and requested I bring her a Lapsong Souchong. I was looking for a small dog for aaaaaaaages. When I finally returned two days later with her herbal tea and explained my delay, she answered "How Lovely".
Yes people, fashion is full of the word 'bitch'.

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