Do you remember where you were when Lady Gaga took to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards red carpet in a dress made of meat? I was a freshman in high school, full of shame and committed to making my style as bland as possible in order to fit in. Gaga, however, has always taken a spicier route, and during an interview for British Vogue’s “Life In Looks” series on Monday, she dished about the inspiration behind the iconic, very raw look.
Turns out, it was actually Gaga’s makeup artist Val Garland who gave her the idea. Garland told Gaga she had gone to a party wearing sausages once, which Gaga found funny and responded, “Well, that’s a great way to make sure everybody leaves you alone at a party.” The result, of course, was the exact opposite.
Ahead of the VMAs that year, the pop star and her House of Gaga creative team put their heads together to figure out if they wanted to make a “statement.” There was a push to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at the time, and Gaga, as recalled to British Vogue, said: “We decided to do the meat dress because I thought to myself if we were willing to die for your country, what does it matter how you identify.”
It’s unclear how Argentinian beef is connected to the plight of LGBTQ soldiers, but Gaga did tell the publication it was “thrilling to wear.” The only clarity I’ve gleaned on where beef came into the mix is from this 2010 interview with (vegan) Ellen DeGeneres where she said, “...it has many interpretations, but for me this evening it’s if we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights pretty soon we’re gonna have as much rights as the meat on our bones.” Oh, how I wish I understood even a clause of that.
On the red carpet, Gaga wore the dress with an accompanying meat beret, purse (which literal icon Cher held while she accepted her award), and shoes. “It smelled like meat,” she admitted in the interview with DeGeneres, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Gaga also revealed that there was a corset underneath and it was “sewn into the meat.”
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Bless the vegan stylist who helped sew the “last bits of meat” to Gaga’s corset and the talented taxidermist who helped the dress have a successful afterlife as beef jerky at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Ohio.