Lady Gaga’s Meat Dress: Origins

When it comes to unorthodox fashion statements, Lady Gaga’s meat dress is the first to come to mind. Gaga shocked the world when she wore it at the 2010 MTV VMAs. The dress sparked a potent mix of confusion and fascination. Let’s look at the origins of Lady Gaga’s meat dress.

Lady Gaga accepts award from Cher | Kevin Mazur / Contributor via Getty Images

A meat dress before Gaga’s

According to 10 Magazine, Australian makeup designer Val Garland conceived of a meat dress in the 1970s. Garland recalled “I made myself hair out of sausages, I had steaks here [points to her chest] and I had them here and put leather through them to make a bra, and I had Viking bacon leggings.”

Garland said that she was dripping in blood when she wore her outfit to a party. She  shocked the other party guests when she started dancing wearing her meat dress and sprayed everyone else with blood.

Val Garland doing Deepika Padukone’s makeup | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for L’Oreal Paris

Garland later had the opportunity to work with stars like Björk, Alexander McQueen, and Lady Gaga. Garland claims that she told Lady Gaga and her stylist, Nicola Formichetti, about her meat dress, and that Gaga asked if she could use her idea. Garland asked her not to wear her own meat dress, as “No-one will ever know it was little Val Garland over in Australia apart from the people who were in Australia at that time.”

Crafting Lady Gaga’s meat dress

Later on, Nicola Formichetti would help Gaga to craft her meat dress. He told Forbes that he originally attempted to create a meat dress using expensive cuts of meat, but they kept on falling off of Gaga’s body. He then created a version of the dress using cheap, thin cuts of meat; Gaga said that this was the most comfortable dress that Formichetti ever created for her, and that was the dress they used.

Nicola Formichetti | Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Gaga and company brought the meat dress backstage at the 2010 MTV VMAs in several coolers. MTV News reported that Ernesto Elias, who accompanied Gaga to that award show recalls her exiting her dressing room wearing a red dress. He noticed that the people around her began to stare at her intensely before he realized that the dress was not made out of a normal fabric.

Meat dress reactions

Lady Gaga would go on to share the stage with Cher that night. Cher later praised both Gaga’s meat dress and her accompanying meat purse, tweeting “modern art elicits discussion, introspection & conflict! Everyone’s talking about it! BINGO!”

Formichetti described the meat dress as a major moment in his career. He told Forbes “The meat dress was the turning point for me. When what we created together got so much attention. Wow, a piece of clothing attracted that much attention, positive and negative, wow that’s f****** crazy.

The meat dress at a museum exhibition | JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages

The New York Daily News reported that PETA decried the use of animal flesh in the dress. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Gaga said that she did not intend to dress to offend vegans or vegetarians. 

Explaining her motivations behind the dress, Gaga said “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 bones. And, I am not a piece of meat.”