Gaga's next gig: Lady leadership?
Since Gaga first hit the scene, it was obvious that she was different. There were doubters at first, but millions have been won over by the substance underlying her pop persona. While Lady Gaga continues to push the bounds of innovation to drive her celebrity, is it fair to consider her a leader? Beyond the fashion and dancehall licks, which are worth exploring, lies a methodic and seemingly calculated performer who is inspiring, if not leading, much more than good beats and funky moves.
1. The biz
While often overlooked as a business maven, Lady Gaga recently topped Fast Company's list of 100 most creative people in business. While her music and wardrobe headline her act, Gaga's business style is just as eye-popping. As her personal brand skyrockets, she has lent her flare to other iconic outposts, serving as the Creative Director of Polaroid and a spokesperson for the MAC Aids Fund. With 2010 nearly behind her, it's hard to imagine that her star is continuing to rise. And with an estimated worth of $62 million and a No. 1 web and social ranking by Forbes, Gaga is revolutionizing the business side of the music industry--finding comfortable ground between a big record label contract and an indie style of connecting with fans through social media and free online music and video offerings.
2. Social causes
Sure Lady Gaga has a massive platform, but by no means does she use it solely to self-promote. She spreads her political weight around. Yesterday, Lady Gaga headlined a rally in Portland, Maine, using her star power to speak out against the US Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Her intended audience was two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both undecided on the hot-button issue. At the MTV Video Music Awards earlier this month, she walked the white carpet with four former servicemen and women who had either left the military voluntarily or been discharged because of their sexuality. Soon after, she tweeted about the event and asked her 6 million twitter followers to encourage Harry Reid to take up the cause. Further demonstrating Gaga's clout, Reid actually tweeted a response. Prior, Gaga has advocated for both AIDS awareness and immigration. While many entertainers are scripted and avoid controversy, Gaga isn't afraid to voice her opinion, for better or for worse.
3. The Web
Early this year Lady Gaga set groundbreaking milestones in the open country that is the Internet. In July she became the first living person to have 10 million fans on Facebook (considering that we have 33, we respect this accomplishment). Similarly, she dominates Twitter with nearly 6.4 million followers. With an open strategy to connect with fans through the Internet, Gaga's management has gone so far as to say, "We make our music video for YouTube." Although her online strategy may seem simple, Lady Gaga is doing more than pumping content to fans. She's canvassed the mainstream networking channels with a vulnerable glimpse at super-stardom and shared her interests in high art, social causes and good music--and her efforts are paying big dividends.
4. Haus of Gaga
Haus of Gaga is a group of like-minded friends who collaborate with the Lady to push her aesthetic (clothes, make-up, sets, videos) to new extremes, a collaboration of trusted allies advancing the pop-scene into uncharted waters. As with everything Gaga, her design team is shrouded in mystery, hype, and genuine emotion. The inner workings and make-up of Lady Gaga's creative team may be tough to read up on and wholly understand, but does anyone really need to? The reality is that the artists and fashion-forward thinkers who shroud Gaga with innovative style are proof positive that every innovator needs a devoted team. While those thriving in the Haus are keeping out of the mainstream, their dedication and inventiveness may well thrust them into the limelight. Names like Nicola Formichetti, Anna Trevelyan, Andrea Cellerino, and Matthew Williams are worth keeping tabs on, as their creative chops are likely to extend far beyond the Gaga empire. Regardless, for now their focus on the Gaga project is proving historic, and her fame couldn't be what it is without them.
Like the dress worn at this year's VMAs made entirely from raw meat, Lady Gaga's fashion choices are nothing short of polarizing. But there's little doubt that she's a leader to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. Her outfits intentionally clash with convention, and in doing so, she claims, they set her free. Some would argue that her outrageous fashion statements are simply for self-promotion. But, in an interview with Ellen after this year's VMAs, Gaga hinted that there may be some substance behind the dress when she stated, "if we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones - and I am not a piece of meat."
No, she's definitely not. From business to fashion, Lady Gaga is an innovator, and she also makes a strong case as a leader. What do you think?
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