The invitations requested “masquerade” attire, so attendees of Lady Gaga’s Fame fragrance launch stormed the Guggenheim Museum in a splendorous parade of Eyes Wide Shut-worthy looks last night. Gaga is probably the only modern pop star who can demand that her fans give something of themselves in order to elevate her own fantasy. As an ambience enhancer, it worked tremendously for this event: an army of shirtless, suspendered men lined the passageway to the dark, cavernous room inside, where you were swept inside a frenzied masked ball. An asymmetrical dome was situated in the middle. We later learned that these were the chambers from which Lady Gaga would emerge, redolent of her infamous Grammy egg exercise.
At 9 p.m., famed cinematographer Steven Klein took the stage and announced the unveiling of his “Fame” film (watch it below). What followed was staggering: a high-octane, Ridley Scott-produced short that showed Gaga as mountainous creature, scaled by tiny men one minute, toting a gun in an ink-filled bathtub the next, and leading a futuristic army throughout. She shoots the gun and the inky “Fame” fragrance explodes from a million orifices, including Gaga’s own eyes and mouth. A more violent version (not showed last night) supposedly will show her massacring the men. David Fincher’s director of photography, Jeff Cronenweth, shot it all, which made it a stylish sister to the equally atramentous, latex-laden opening sequence of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. More adventurous than any standalone Lady Gaga music video (and therefore, almost any, ever), “Fame” supposedly cost seven figures to make. Obviously, its finale drew a huge round of applause.
The invitations also indicated a “performance” of some sort was in order, so anticipations escalated fairly high as the event crept onwards. After the film ended, a new image appeared: Gaga, in masquerade wear and a red wig, sleeping on a sofa. Then, suddenly, the dome – seemingly dormant – lit up to reveal that the pop icon was literally right there in front of us, sleeping in real time. Naturally, people’s curiosity took hold and they surrounded her, some reaching inside to touch her (surprisingly, this was permitted). This went on for some time, before Gaga dramatically arose from her chambers to step outside and into the crowd – and, according to some onlookers, took a moment to pee in her champagne bucket.
Was she about to sing? No: She was about to get inked, we learned five minutes later, as she reemerged in the dome, undressing into lingerie and freeing herself of her wig. By the way, the rumors are true: she has indeed shaved half her head (a tribute to Terry Richardson’s mother), and she even cleaned up the cut in front of us with the aid of an assistant’s razor. Then she returned to the sofa, where she proceeded to get tattooed in front of her audience. Fearless. Genius. Insane. What was she getting tattooed, people wondered? “An angel,” Gaga’s mother, a lovely aged version of her daughter in pearls and black gown, told a friend. This wasn’t a performance – it was performance art.
Yoko Ono looked on from upstairs, safely situated away from Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Models like Jessica Stam and Crystal Renn (who squealed that she adored Gaga) sashayed like noir peacocks through the crowd (their feathered headpieces were a little more intricate than most), while designers Jason Wu, Alexander Wang and Olivier Theyskens mingled, probably relieved their Week was over. In many ways, Gaga’s “Fame” soiree was indeed the ostensible closing party to New York Fashion Week – while managing to upstage just about every show and shindig that preceded it in sheer surrealism alone.