Lady GaGa's "Paparazzi" video hit the web about a week ago, but it took a while for us to… digest the high-fashion short film (directed by Jonas Akerlund) — which touches on fame, disability and domestic violence.
In an interview with Anthem magazine, stylist B. Akerlund (wife of Jonas) — who is Lady GaGa's "first official stylist," talks about the intricate, bizarre and, frankly, gorgeous ensembles created for "Paparazzi."
The beginning of the video shows Ms. GaGa in a torrid embrace with a man, who ends up manipulating, dominating and manhandling her — trying to make sure their kisses are snapped by a hidden photographer — and he eventually throws her over a balcony. After her fall, GaGa returns home in a stylish neckbrace and wheelchair. B. Akerlund explains:
Gaga called me and said she wanted to be in a wheel chair. She wanted me to design it and not the prop department. I took it upon myself to drive to East L.A. and exchange the wheels for some low rider ones. I ordered some Gucci fabric and handed it over to my genius friend/designer Michael Schmidt so he could embellish it with Swarovski crystals. Originally, we made a metal logo that read "Gaga" on the wheels, but she disliked the font and we ended up exchanging it for the Chanel logo.
Once out of the wheelchair, GaGa wears a metal corset and walks with crutches.
B Akerlund says:
This is a very famous Thierry Mugler robot that was my biggest dream for GaGa. We made it happen and it arrived in a huge metal box with padlocks on it-very exciting! It's not the most comfortable thing to wear and very cold on the body, but a true work of art. The crutches were custom-made by Michael Schmidt with Swarovski chain and punk studs.
— especially the two above, from a 1995 Vogue spread titled "The Empowered Woman" — do they make some kind of statement? A critique on literal fashion victims? A comment on the idea that women draw strength from what they wear? Can a victim or survivor find solace in style?
Throughout the video, we see flashes — very quick scenes — of dead (murdered?) women. Is the abusive boyfriend to blame? Later in the video, GaGa is back with man who hurt her, and he's reading a magazine which proclaims her to be "the new it girl." As though her ordeal just made her more famous. But GaGa has a ringful of poison, which she slips into his drink. He promptly dies. In the media blitz which follows, a newspaper headline reads, "We Love Her Again."
Yes, it's just a video. But in a time when the public was privy to a photograph of Rihanna's battered face and intimate details of Britney's breakdowns, isn't it interesting to see the idea of a strong — yet hurt — woman? And what if the "man" in the video is actually a stand-in for fame itself, and what it does to women?