The Holy Trinity: Fashion, Music and Film

LONDON, United Kingdom Last night on X-Factor, one of the most popular shows in British television history, Lady Gaga laid down the digital pop star gauntlet again, dressed in Gareth Pugh’s fantastical creations from Spring/Summer 2007 while performing Bad Romance, the first release from her second album The Fame Monster. The song originally debuted at the seminal show of the Spring/Summer 2010 collections staged by Alexander McQueen. As was widely reported at the time, when Ms. Gaga announced the song’s debut to her more than 1 million Twitter followers, it promptly crashed the SHOWStudio site which was live-streaming the McQueen show.

Since then, Gaga has performed Bad Romance at the American Music Awards, the Ellen Degeneres Show, the Jay Leno Show, and now X-Factor, reaching millions of viewers around the world. But even more interestingly, she has gone beyond the typical old media promotion circuit, using the internet to create viral interest in her music and day-to-day antics.

The results are impressive to say the least. Since the Bad Romance video was launched on YouTube on November 10th, it has been viewed more than 30 million times. To put that into perspective, Madonna’s current single, Celebration, has only been viewed 1 million times since it debuted on YouTube on October 14th. In total, Lady Gaga’s videos have been viewed more than 500 million times on YouTube, the equivalent of almost 40 appearances on X-Factor, which attracted an estimated 13 million viewers yesterday evening.

It’s no wonder that Forbes Magazine recently declared that “Lady Gaga isn’t the music industry’s new Madonna. She’s its new business model.” However, what the Forbes article failed to note is that Lady Gaga may very well be revolutionising the fashion business as well.

On his blog, Lady Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti, who is also the Creative Director of Dazed & Confused and Fashion Director of Vogue Hommes Japan, has credited the outfits worn by Ms. Gaga in every shot of the Bad Romance video, in the same way that one might see editorial credits in fashion magazines. Given the original Alexander McQueen connection, it’s not surprising that many of the fashion credits in this case go to Mr. McQueen, but Formichetti has also dressed Ms. Gaga in clothes by young designers from around the world, including London-based milliner Nasir Mazhar and American designer Benjamin Cho, providing these new talents with a powerful PR platform that brings fashion into the digital age. In this way, Ms. Gaga may now be the single most powerful editorial machine for fashion designers looking for mass exposure.

Of course, there has always been a connection between fashion, music and film, which feed off of each other for inspiration and amplify the collective interest of consumers. The first step in solidifying this was the launch of MTV in the 1980’s and the birth of the narrative music video, as pioneered by Michael Jackson and others. But back then, musicians relied on the networks to select and broadcast their videos to reach their audiences, whereas today, artists can communicate directly with their fans en masse, as Lady Gaga has shown, and videos are viewed on demand by consumers who choose the content they want to consume. And, while Michael Jackson’s red zippered jacket inspired his fans in a similar way as Gaga does with her fashions today, there was no easy way of really tracking down who made the jackets or where they could be found. Bolstered by the power of the Internet, the new fashion-music-film troika is an even stronger force to be reckoned with.

Incidentally, there’s one other brand that appears conspicuously in the fashion credits of Bad Romance. “The Haus of Gaga” is credited with several items from different scenes from the video. Could an eponymous Lady Gaga fashion label be the next phase in Ms. Gaga’s plans for global domination? Stay tuned.

Imran Amed is Editor of The Business of Fashion