BoF Exclusive | Zaldy Goco talks about designing for Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, Part I

Lady Gaga by Zaldy | Source: Fan site

Lady Gaga by Zaldy in the Monster Ball Tour | Source: Fan site

To further explore the powerful synergy between the fashion and music industries, BoF brings you an exclusive two-part interview with fashion designer Zaldy, known for his close connection to the music industry’s biggest stars.

NEW YORK, United States — Zaldy Goco is one of those rare creative talents who moves seamlessly between music and fashion. For almost two decades, the New York-based fashion designer has been working at close range with music stars to create looks that fit with their music and amplify their personal style, taste and aesthetic to millions of fans. From Rufus Wainwright to RuPaul, Mary J. Blige to Jennifer Lopez, and Mick Jagger to the Scissor Sisters, Zaldy’s fashion-meets-music resume is impressive and diverse indeed.

And, while his first big break may have come from working with Gwen Stefani on her L.A.M.B. label, it wasn’t until 2009 that Zaldy’s career reached its apogee. Last year, in quick succession, both the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and the reigning queen of the online music industry, Lady Gaga, called on Zaldy to create the costumes for their concert tours. This is particularly noteworthy as both Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga have used costumes to project their unique, star qualities and create iconic images.

In the first part of an in-depth, two part interview, BoF spoke exclusively with Zaldy about how he got started working in the music/fashion space, collaborating with Gwen Stefani, and becoming part of the now legendary Haus of Gaga for her Monster Ball Tour.

BoF: Fashion and music have always been connected, but nobody else seems to have made the connection as closely as you. When did you start working so closely with musicians and why?

I’ve been friendly with the music community for a long time, going all the way back to the nineties band Deee-lite. I’d always wanted to be a part of both industries, and the idea of putting clothes on stage for performance was very new and interesting to me. I realised that it was possible to work in both music and fashion at the same time because they are so linked together. My real focus was fashion, but I entertained what was presented to me and if it was an exciting project I just went with it.

My real start was working with Rufus Wainwright. We worked on so many videos together “Poses”, “California,” and “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” and several album covers as well. In this way, he was very important to my beginnings in the music industry and we remain very close friends to this day. From there I started to work with Antony and the Johnsons, Melissa Auf Der Maur from Hole, and then it went mainstream with Gwen, Britney, Janet and the likes!

BoF: Your first big music collaboration was with Gwen Stefani on her L.A.M.B. Line, which eventually grew into a substantial business?

Yes. Around the time when L.A.M.B. was just starting, Gwen just asked me one day, then and there, if I’d be interested in working with her on it. And I said “Of course” without knowing really knowing what that meant.

You have to remember the idea of music and fashion was just beginning, and celebrity fashion lines were a completely new phenomenon and generally looked upon unfavourably. But I loved Gwen so much and I was a big fan, so I decided to keep my own line and design for Gwen as well.

BoF: And so, for example, when you design for someone like Gwen Stefani, did you have a different creative process?

When I work on my own collection, I pretty much have my muses in place. But when I work with any musician, especially someone like Gwen, she is the muse. Musicians want to work with you because they want to get a certain perspective from me, but it really is a collaboration. It is a sharing of ideas. There’s a different creative energy. It’s not just about you. In fact, inspirations may come from somewhere you never expected.

It’s sort of like a think tank. We just bring our ideas together and just work from there.

BoF: You recently completed the costumes for Lady Gaga’s ongoing Monster Ball tour. She has a whole creative team around her, including stylist Nicola Formichetti and the infamous Haus of Gaga. How do you work with this whole team of people to realise this whole concert vision?

For sure. Gaga has a whole team, a whole package, and whole creative energy around her. I couldn’t help but wonder how it was going to be to work together. I had never really worked with anyone else who had someone like Nicola or a creative director or that many advisers. But, the best thing about working with Gaga and meeting with her in the beginning was finding out how genuine those ideas were to her, whether or not it came from meetings with the Haus of Gaga.

Her instincts were always right on target.

BoF: Speaking of which, can you tell me exactly what the Haus of Gaga is?

I’m not even sure exactly what it is. As she explained it to me, it’s the collective of people who come together to work with her creatively. But, it’s not as if she’s going to launch a fashion line or anything — at least that’s what she told me then. But, I guess you never know. After all, she is a capable, multi-talented overachiever with a lot to give!

Tomorrow, in part two, we’ll talk to Zaldy about working up-close with Michael Jackson and share some exclusive photographs from fittings, taken by Zaldy himself.