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Lady Gaga’s Fashion Evolution

From her hit-or-miss beginnings to the cover of ‘Vogue’

It's hard to believe it's been almost three years since Lady Gaga showed up in our lives in a homemade bathing suit and hair-covered bow in her hair – a far cry from the darling of the fashion world she is today. Here are the 15 looks that got her from afternoon art project to Vogue cover girl, with teacups, taped-up tatas and towering platforms in between.

By Elizabeth Spiridakis

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Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Hairbow

The hairbow made of hair that matches her hair (yes,you read that correctly) was the most “wacky” part of this look at the time, but now what seems most bizarre is that she’s wearing Wayfarers. How very . . . American Apparel of her.

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Adam Haddrick for Rove Live

Unicorn Horn

What’s so charming about looking back at her old pics is that they are so imbalanced. Before Thierry Mugler's Nicola Formichetti was her "Creative Director" and fashion designers were dying to clothe her, the "Haus of Gaga" was making her looks. Every so often it seemed like someone would have a burst of wacky genius  – “OOOMMGG, ‘Unicorn Horn beehive!” And then they'd just . . . lose steam (That dress is like something my mom finds at Loehmann’s.) It would be remiss to not acknowledge her gross overuse of self-tanner at this point as well.

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Chi / Mark Milan / Splash News

Lovely Lavender

This look is important for a few reasons. First, it's when Gaga really started exaggerating her accessories (if it's going to be a hair bow, it's going to be a hair bow the size of her head that can double as a neck pillow). She also started to halve her wardrobe budget by cutting pants out of the equation. Also her bag and shoe choices in the beginning were so horribly misguided – always something cheeseball that reeked of “Get The Look for Less” in the back of a tabloid mag. But we’re finally getting somewhere – this is kinda weird, girl!

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Blitz / Splash News

Tea Time

Gaga was still insisting on dragging around the bad designer purses, but the most amazing part of Mommy Monster Accoutrement is the teacup, which started showing up in 2009. Once you notice the teacup, you cannot unsee it – she brought one everywhere! And maybe more important: What does she have in there? Earl grey? Tang? Kombucha spiked with bourbon? Seahorses?

Also important to note: her makeup game had really started heating up (Clara Bow lips!). Plus, now-signature circle frame sunglasses.

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Splash News

Lobster Lady

Most things that she is wearing in this picture are now sort of her signature "basics." Latex (because if she is going to wear pants or a skirt, they are going to be relatively transparent), X-shape nipple tape, Stuff On Her Head (I refuse to call this a hat, because this lobster should technically be considered  eyewear.) The only misstep in this nearly flawless look is the tiny baby arm bracelet.

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Kevin Mazur/WireImage for MAC Cosmetics

Pearly Whites

Around this time Gaga was putting anything and everyone on her face – lace, pearls, fencing masks, beekeeper veils. It was like a perverse modesty – her wide-leg trousers would be made of almost transparent rubber but her face was almost completely obscured. At this event, the only clothing she was wearing was (pearl-encrusted) underwear and a (pearl-encrusted) motorcycle jacket. But don’t worry! It's not inappropriate becuase her face is completely covered (in pearls).

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Courtesy Interscope

Bad Romance

"Bad Romance" was the first time Gaga put on a full designer look – mostly because, I'm sorry to say, the fashion world was kinda late to the Gaga party. True, most designers didn't quite understand her fully yet, but also, who had anything that was bonkers enough?  Except, of course, Alexander McQueen. His dark, glorious Spring-Summer 2010 collection was so perfect for her, with its exaggerated shapes and tottering footwear. This is the moment of the video – the McQueenadillos, displayed in all their glory ! Gorgeous.

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Lester Cohen/WireImage

Space Oddity

First of all, please note: TEACUP! Still rocking it! I like to imagine a huge cupboard of cups and saucers, right between her clothing racks and shoe closet, that she chooses among to complete her outfit. (She also seems to be wearing part of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude on her head.) I would also like to congratulate her on what must be perfect posture, because with something that precarious balancing on your head you need to be ramrod straight (or someone behind her might lose an eye).

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Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Red Queen

Gaga's always working her own special ratio of naked to fully obscured, and weird to mega-weird. We may have a perfectly open view of her undergarments, but her face is hidden from us – she could be asleep in there and we'd never even know.

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Mario Testino courtesy of Vogue

Vogue

This is probably the most arresting cover that American Vogue has produced in years. It’s weird and gorgeous and gives you some of that quintessential Gaga give-and-take – she'll give a classic model pose, and a somewhat tame frock, but she'll do it without eyebrows and you will love it. Such a long way from KISS makeup and homemade bathing suits!

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Up, Up and Away

We haven’t been able to really discuss her footwear evolution in this gallery – but here are the Cliff's Notes. She started in imitation (or maybe borrowed) Louboutins, and just went way up. Everything got super-high and shaped like anything but a shoe – towering claws with no back, dildo heels, McQueenadillos. She’s maybe done it all, and so perhaps the only way left to go is to see how tall you can make a shoe before you call it a stilt?

Also: nails are her new weird zone. Watch that space! I predict crazy lengths, hanging plants, maybe the nails curl out to spell LADY GAGA? You heard it here first.

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