Lady Gaga, the singer whose capacity to surprise her audiences shows no sign of abating, caused one of the bigger frissons of her career yesterday when she turned out at an awards ceremony in a meat dress.
In an appearance which managed in a few short minutes to offend vegetarians, animal rights’ campaigners, food safety obsessives and Hindus, she took to the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards in a matching dress, boots, hat and handbag that appeared to be made of cuts of raw beef.
Her decision to turn out in figure-hugging steak – if that is indeed what it was, and not some clever man-made material, or indeed tofu – follows her appearance on the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan in a meat bikini.
The dress drew predictable outrage from Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Ingrid Newkirk, the organisation’s founder, said: “In that business Lady Gaga has a hard time being ‘over the top’ and wearing a dress made out of cuts of dead cows is offensive enough to bring comment, but someone should whisper in her ear that there are more people upset by butchery than impressed by it, and that means a lot of young people will not be buying her records if she keeps it up.
“On the other hand, maybe it was fake, and she’ll talk about that later. If not, what’s next – the family cat made into a hat?”
Gaga, whose previous ensembles have included a bubblewrap outfit, a Kermit the Frog costume and a pizza hat, later explained her choice on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian. As you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the Earth. However, it has many interpretations.
“For me this evening, if we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights pretty soon, we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And I am not a piece of meat.”
Afterwards DeGeneres, who is vegan, presented her with a vegetarian bikini and skirt. “It’s fabulous!” said Gaga. “It’s kale! Is it organic?”
In 1991, Canadian artist Jana Sterbak made a dress out of steak that she called Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic. It was first displayed at the National Gallery of Canada; a version was later shown at the Tate Gallery in London.