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Is there such thing as fashion fatigue? When you’ve seen it all, and worn it weirdly, what comes next? Ever since Lady Gaga roared onto the scene, she’s made it her business to explore the outlandish side of dressing. There wasn’t a platform heel high enough, themed headdress big enough, or piece of couture extravagant enough to sate her appetite for eccentricity, and for years she pushed the limits with every public appearance. As a champion of a dress made of meat, among other wearable sculptures, Gaga managed to transform herself from her roots as an up-and-coming singer from Manhattan’s Lower East Side into a larger-than-life icon and spokesperson for audacious self-expression. Which makes her latest move all the more intriguing: It’s been a slow and steady sea change that has solidified over the past week, where Gaga has eschewed the ornate, costumey pieces that were her signature and opted instead for—dare we say it?—minimalism.
Gaga has flirted with simplicity in the past, aided by the pared-down glamour of pieces like the Brandon Maxwell jumpsuit she chose for the Oscars, but her selections have lately been especially simple. To toast Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday, Gaga donned a sultry Carolina Herrera floor-length number topped off with an Eric Javits gaucho hat, later switching to a strapless Brandon Maxwell gown with a curved bodice. The star’s off-duty gear seems to have gotten a make-under, too, with ripped black denim, Alexander Wang cutoffs, and Saint Laurent blazers replacing wilder fare. (Remember when she used to go around with a teacup? Or in a dress made of stuffed animals?) Given that her most dramatic recent outfit was comprised of a gray plaid pantsuit and glasses—she wore it without a shirt—it’s safe to say that Gaga is taking a respite from weirdness.
Still, there may be a method behind the madness; with every other celebrity rebranding herself as a print-loving Gucci bohemian or a catsuit-loving member of the Balmain army, the easiest way to stand out may be to head in the opposite direction. There’s also not much weirder for her to get. If “look at me” fashions are the new normal, a true provocateur has to react against that. Gaga’s foray into plain old clothes may be an act of subversion—her artpop could mean anything—or simply what happens when it’s laundry day in pop star world, but if one thing’s for certain, it’s that in Lady Gaga’s world, less is definitely more.