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August 29 2014

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“Applause,” Please: Brandon Maxwell Talks Styling Lady Gaga’s Latest Video

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Just in case you haven’t gotten your fill of Lady Gaga’s paint-smeared face, it’s back in the video for “Applause,” the first single to (officially) drop from the singer’s forthcoming album, Artpop. Fittingly, for the woman devoted to living her life as a live-action editorial shoot, the video was directed by fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who also shot Artpop‘s cover and Gaga’s four September V covers. “For me, it was one of the most memorable experiences that we’ve ever had,” Gaga’s stylist, Brandon Maxwell, told Style.com when asked about working with the photographers. Of course, the clothes—like an archival John Galliano gown accessorized with duct tape and safety-pin baubles by Mathieu Mirano, and Valentino Couture lingerie paired with Alaïa boots—added to the excitement.

“The concept was really, What would you do for the applause?” explained Maxwell. Donning a custom Gareth Pugh pillow gown (which explodes around a black catsuit by Mila Schön) and a Maison Martin Margiela Couture jacket (Gaga wears it atop a mirror-and-pin costume conceived by her sister, Natali Germanotta) seems a good place to start. However, Maxwell stressed that some of Gaga’s most memorable looks boast a DIY touch. “Nobody loves clothes and couture more than Gaga, but I think some of her most famous costumes are things that she made with her own two hands,” asserted the stylist. “So there are parts of the video that are incredible for fashion people—like, I was basically crying during that whole Galliano scene. But she has a huge fan base, and I like to choose pieces—whether they’re off the runway or made by us—that some of these kids can make at home.” This time around, those items included seashell pasties; a floating bikini bottom that Gaga’s in-house Renaissance man, Perry Meek, assembled from fresh flowers, glue, and string; and a surreal top by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac shaped to look as though two gloved hands are grasping Gaga’s breasts. The pop star also wears assemblage-style wings—fashioned from broken umbrella spokes—by L.A.-based Junker Designs.

As for Gaga’s dialed-down aesthetic—which more or less prevails in the video—Maxwell insisted that it’s nothing new. “There hasn’t been a big change. I’ve worked with Gaga [as Nicola Formichetti's former assistant] for years, and this is just a natural progression. For instance, today, she wore Balenciaga [on the way to] Good Morning America,, and it was the most chic thing. But on her, it still looks a bit different,” he offered. “So I think it’s OK to move into this cleaner area, because she could walk naked and she’d still look odd and beautiful in some strange way.”

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Dept. of Culture