Lady Gaga’s incomparable sophomore album Born This Way turns 10 years old this month and there’s so much fashion to celebrate from the era.
One of the most fashion-forward and inventive pop stars of all time, Gaga introduced herself to the world with The Fame, a controversial and exciting breakout period, remembered for her experimental wigs, bulky sunglasses, glamour, gore, and a dress made from raw beef. Gaga’s vision in 2011 for Born this Way went even farther, with stronger artistic concepts and as a love letter to her then-established fanbase of Little Monsters. In the title track and first single, Gaga sings of self-celebration and keeping faith in love and self, gifting the world a liberating dance floor anthem that would prove itself timeless.
The city of West Hollywood marked the 10th anniversary of the album by declaring May 23 “Born This Way Day” and honoring Gaga with the key to the city. To kick off Pride Month, the city painted the album’s title in the LGBTQ+ flag in a street mural, in recognition of Gaga’s support for queer youth, the community the song and artist is dedicated to. Her lyrics speak universally to minorities and misfits, giving a place of belonging to those who needed to be told that they were perfect just the way they were born.
Even Elton John proclaimed “Born this Way” the “new gay anthem” when it first dropped, and the song would go on to inspire more mainstream pop stars to center topics of sexual identity and equality, a significant shift in pop culture and art activism. The song sold over a million copies within five days and set a Guinness World Record for “The Fastest-selling Single” on iTunes. Gaga also made history with the track during her 2017 Super Bowl performance, when she was the first to say the word “transgender” during the live telecast.
She reminds fans in an Instagram post for the L.A. event that the song and album were inspired by queer Black religious activist Carl Bean and his 1977 rendition of “I Was Born This Way,” originally sung by Valentino. She told Howard Stern in a 2011 interview that Bean’s song felt like a sermon to her. And speaking with Billboard, she credited music from the early 90s as a prominent influence as well. “When Madonna, En Vogue, Whitney Houston, and TLC were making very empowering music for women and the gay community and all kind of disenfranchised communities, the lyrics and the melodies were very poignant and very gospel and very spiritual and I said, ‘That’s the kind of record I need to make. That’s the record that’s going to shake up the industry.’”
The Born This Way album incorporates an amalgamation of many genres, including opera, metal, Euro-pop, and disco. The music references religious themes and figures from Christianity, in hand with sexual and political liberation, while the artistic direction and Nick Knight imagery calls back to surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon.
It seemed the stars aligned when Nicola Formichetti, Gaga stylist at the time, joined Mugler as the artistic director in September 2010, in a creative collaboration that defined the fashion of the Born This Way Era. Mugler’s exaggerated and other-worldly designs paired perfectly with Mother Monster’s new prosthetic horns, done by Millennium FX. “It was about taking power, dressing to the extreme, and showing it was real, but half-fantasy,” Formichetti told Variety upon the album’s anniversary. The album art, shot by Knight, shows the star as half-female, half-motorcycle, conveying the artist’s ability to infinitely transform and evolve.
From The Fame to Born This Way, Artpop to Joanne, and most recently, Chromatica, Gaga invites her fans into whatever landscape she creates, and is always intentional with her messaging–whether you get it or not.
“When they wanted me to be sexy, when they wanted me to be pop, I always put some absurd spin on it to make me feel like I was in control,” she says in her 2017 documentary Five Foot Two. “If I’m gonna be sexy on the VMAs singing about the paparazzi, I’m gonna do it while bleeding to death, reminding you of what fame did to Marilyn Monroe.”
To continue celebrating inclusivity and diversity, Lady Gaga and Versace teamed up to create a new collection in time for Pride Month and the album’s anniversary. The colorful capsule includes shirts and a beret designed by Donatella Versace, and 30 percent of the sales from the collection will be donated to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to support LGBTQ+ mental health.
Versace and Lady Gaga are also auctioning off a replica of the iconic leather jacket worn by Gaga on her world tour. Every donation will support the Born This Way Foundation, and you can enter for your chance to win through Omaze.
Sharing the collaboration, Lady Gaga wrote on Instagram, “[Versace has] celebrated the beautiful colors of love we have within us to offer each other. We were all more different, and different is beautiful.”
In celebration of 10 years of Born This Way, view the gallery below for just a few of Gaga’s best fashion moments from the era, documented by fan page La Maison Gaga.END
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