To me, the epitome of Lady Gaga is her red carpet outfits circa 2014. At the time, I never understood the meat dress, the large/ 3D geometric shapes, insane hairpieces, and the wild accessories (check those out here).
If I’m being completely honest, Lady Gaga wasn’t really my cup of tea growing up. Therefore, I never felt compelled to look into her reasoning behind slipping into a (hopefully) cold, high-low, filet-mignon dress.
Well, I can now say I think I see into the mind of Lady Gaga a little clearer. In my very first SRISA class (Clothing and Society), I learned while watching a documentary that Studio XO were the creators of one of her iconic dresses- the bubble dress. Yes, a garment of clothing with bubbles constantly blowing out of it (i added pics for this dress too). Sounds a little wacky, I know.
In previous years, I would have completely agreed. Why would anyone willingly walk around in something so mechanic? It sounds unbelievably uncomfortable and unnecessary. Usually, during this part of the movie, I would have subconsciously zoned out. I probably would have started thinking about what to make for dinner, or maybe what to pack for my trip to Budapest next weekend.
However, I’m in Italy to study fashion, so why not embrace it? Hence, I paid attention. I listened to Nancy Tilbury (co-founder of Studio XO) talk about creating her wearable technology.
Within moments, I completely got it. I understood that the clothing that Lady Gaga was wearing was not just for attention. She dressed in strange outfits because she saw the artwork behind them. Those pieces were living designs, revolutionizing fashion with the avant-garde 3D printing. She valiantly used it to express being proud of her own uniqueness, which complemented the interpretations of the lyrics to the majority of her songs. She did this all while presenting the pure genius of the creators. No one has thought to do what Studio XO did. In Nancy Tilbury’s own words, “it’s a garment with a factory inside… it is pure design engineering that happens to be dressed up as fashion…it’s a machine that is transforming the way we dress”. (“The Next Black” 7:21).
This does not go to say that Lady Gaga did this without criticism, and I’m assuming that she knew it would be coming. She allowed herself to be vulnerable. Though, (in my mind), she did this because she knew that nothing transcendent would come from wearing, say, a simple red dress.
I then realized that anything great comes with some level of vulnerability. Nothing worth having comes from comfortability. Now, this is nothing new that I have learned, (it’s actually something my dad has ALWAYS reminded me of), and I’m sure that it is not a new concept for you either. Although, it helps me to remember this when things begin to change and I begin to feel uncomfortable. I have always been just mediocre at leaving my safe zone.
Being in Italy comes with a great deal of vulnerability. Not in the sense that I am vulnerable to pick-pocketers, or vulnerable to blowing through my savings (all which is still very possible). However, it is a vulnerability that I must create within myself. I need to let go of anything that is keeping me back from letting this experience be short of amazing.
I think this is important for anyone to read if they are studying abroad, contemplating studying abroad, or maybe just going through a tough time. I truly believe that what I put into my time here is what I am going to get out of it. If I decided that I was going to be miserable because my apartment is 20 minutes away from campus, while all of my friends’ apartments are only 7 or 8 minutes… then I will indeed hate walking to school every day. Or, if I decided that I was going to fail my very first drawing class because I’m terrified that I do not have a single creative bone in my body… then I shouldn’t be surprised when I see that ‘F’. If I’m too scared to ask the price of a glass of wine in Italian… then I can’t be shocked when the bill has a 30 Euro charge with the description of ‘Super crazily stupidly priced red wine’.
Instead, I am making a promise to myself that I am going to be vulnerable. I will be open to any and all experiences that come my way. I will not be stubborn. I will open my mind and be excited that I am going to learn new things, and meet new people all in a new place.
Sure, nothing is going to be perfect. I will have mishaps, there will be things that are scary and will take more time to adjust to than I expected. But, the only way to have that tingle of excitement is to push through those moments.
So, thank you Nancy Tilbury and Lady Gaga for teaching me something new about the world of fashion and the meaning behind those insane outfits. Thank you to my friends here (and my best friends at home) for pushing me to plan trips like Berlin, Budapest, London, Paris, Barcelona, Turin, Croatia, and hopefully more. Thank you to my teachers for exposing me to new experiences and information I would never get anywhere else. And thank you to Florence for having kind natives that will help me with my Italian (because I was terrified to order a pizza in Italian my first day here).
Remember, anything worth having is going to challenge you, and the challenge will be the most exciting part.
(all of my pictures are from google images)