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Exclusive Lady Gaga Interview: “I Was Told I Wasn’t Good Enough, But It Didn’t Stop Me”

With a new album out, a movie on the horizon, and as the face of Valentino’s latest fragrance, Voce Viva, Lady Gaga is still the reigning chameleon queen of fashion, music and film.

exclusive interview lady gaga

Where is no one in Hollywood with style as fearless as Lady Gaga. Take the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, where the singer donned no fewer than nine different ensembles. Beginning the night in an astronaut-inspired outfit, complete with clear helmet, to walk the red carpet, her following looks included an array of gowns, catsuits, feathers, sequins, and a series of avant garde masks. Ending the evening with five trophies for artist of the year, song of the year, best cinematography, best collaboration for “Rain on Me,” and the inaugural Tricon award (given to those who are highly accomplished across three or more disciplines), she opted for an oversized graphic T-shirt and platform boots. Very Gaga.

Ever evolving, Gaga is just as striking when her look is pared back. Following the release of the romantic musical drama A Star Is Born (2018), where she played the lead alongside Bradley Cooper, she took on her most classically glamorous persona yet. Two red carpet moments instantly shot her to the top of every best-dressed list. The first for the Venice film festival, where she arrived in a floor-length pink feathered gown by Valentino Couture. “As soon as I was zipped up in the dress by my stylists Tom and Sandra, I turned to my mother and we both burst into tears,” recalls Gaga of the fitting that took place in her California home, as they listened to Andrea Bocelli.

It marked the beginning of a new relationship with Valentino – one that has blossomed into Gaga becoming the face of Voce Viva, its latest perfume dreamed up by the house’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli. “Today, more than ever, senses are the vehicles that will lead us to rebirth. This is the way I personally feel about fragrances: as a sensorial whole experience. Voce Viva to me is a truly immersive event, a sublime evocation that involves the body as well as the mind, liberating instead of covering the skin with a tactile gesture: the perfume,” explains Piccioli.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga at the 2020 MTV Awards

Translated from Latin, Voce Viva means “with living voice.” It wasn’t just that Gaga is a performer with Italian roots and bold style that made her the perfect choice to front the campaign, Piccioli explains. “Lady Gaga means freedom, self-consciousness, pure heart. Her participation in this campaign elevates the symbolic power of the project to the highest level. She is the icon of a generation. Her message of freedom, passion for art, self-consciousness, and equality is the same our Valentino community stands for. I am so proud of having her in.” The campaign showcases Gaga in a ruffled floor-sweeping gown, bare-faced, with her platinum blonde hair tinted pink and worn up, loose and whimsical. “For Voce Viva, we made a beautiful film by Harmony Korine with a song from my new album called ‘Sine From Above.’ I felt strong and alive, hearing myself echo through the forest as I was singing in this dress,” reminisces Gaga.

Voce Viva is a floral woody fragrance. Vibrant and full of energy, color arrives in the form of bergamot softened with juicy Italian mandarin, with spicy ginger adding a touch of complexity. A nod to couture, a bouquet of white florals that includes orange blossom, gardenia, and jasmine explode at the heart of the fragrance. Finally, for cool, crystal moss brings woody and mineral facets alongside warm and milky sandalwood and sweet Madagascar vanilla absolute. The perfume is encapsuled in a sleek glass flacon with a gold cap that features the house’s iconic rock stud motif, designed to evoke the silhouette and curves of a couture dress. Gaga explains of wearing one of Piccoli’s creations, “It reminded me of my freedom and how I get to experience magic; a freedom and magic I wish everyone to have.”

Freedom didn’t come easy for Gaga. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28, 1986, to American-Italian parents in New York City, she worked her way up to the highest echelons of the entertainment industry. Raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, she always had a fondness for music, learning piano at just four years old. She is said to have written her first song at 13 and began acting in school plays and performing at open mic nights. “Whenever someone told me I wasn’t good enough throughout my career and life, I never let it break me,” she says. “I promised myself that every time I heard ‘no,’ it would motivate me to work harder.” Considered eccentric while growing up, Gaga has shared her experiences of being bullied. It has been reported that she even had a Facebook group made about her called “Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous.” “The most daring thing I did was believe in myself,” says Gaga. She also attributes her success to the support of her family. When asked who has inspired her the most, she cites her mother, grandmothers, and sister. “In fact, I would have to say my whole family,” she considers. “The hard-working spirit, the ‘I’ll never give up’ attitude, the style and grace while doing so. That’s my family’s voice. That’s me.”

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Attributing her stage name to the 1984 Queen song “Radio Ga Ga,” the singer officially entered the spotlight in 2008 with her debut album, The Fame. The single “Just Dance” was her first hit, with “Poker Face” and “Paparazzi” following in quick succession. “I have to give confidence to myself for it to be real. I work on building it all the time. I focus on skills I have, and work from there,” she says of her success. Her next five albums all debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200, with success across the globe.

In 2015, Gaga turned her sights to acting, with roles in American Horror Story: Hotel – which bagged her the Golden Globe award for best actress in a mini series or television film. Her next major role was in A Star Is Born, a feat which saw her become the first woman to win an Oscar as well as Grammy, Bafta, and Golden Globe awards in one year for her contribution to its soundtrack. Gaga’s further accolades also include three Brit awards, 18 MTV Video Music Awards, the inaugural Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Icon Award and several Guinness World Records. In December last year, the star was placed 10th on the Forbes list of top-earning musicians of the decade, reportedly earning US $500 million in the last decade.

Gaga is also known for her philanthropic work. “My charity, the Born This Way Foundation, that I co-founded with my mother, shares our ambitious passion to make positive change in the face of the world’s mental health crisis,” she shares of the initiative launched in 2012. “I believe it is more important than ever to motivate an agenda of kindness. Kindness that leads to the healing of the mind, body, and soul. Kindness that invigorates programs that are fearless in their effort to help humanity learn the importance of self-care.” For every paid transaction on the Haus Laboratories website – her line of vegan makeup – $1 is donated to the foundation. Gaga has opened up on several occasions about her struggles with both her physical and mental health, including suffering from fibromyalgia, an illness that causes intense physical pain, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. “I believe self-care routines, in and of themselves, are the best beauty tip of all. If you care for your mind, body, skin, heart, and healing, you approach beauty holistically,” she says. “For me, using makeup as well as perfume to transform how I feel at any moment is valuable as well. Even though working on ourselves from the inside is the most crucial, I also cherish the power of visual transformation to affect how we feel inside.”

Having launched her sixth album, Chromatica, in June, she hopes to spread this love further. “On my new album, I want everyone to know that even if life is painful sometimes, you can still dance through it. You can dance through it because you’re being brave by fighting the pain and living life. This is something that should be celebrated. This is a reason to dance.” What does 2021 hold for Gaga? “I’m over the moon excited about an upcoming movie I’ll be acting in, directed by my new budding friend, the legendary Ridley Scott – alongside the talent of a truly humbling cast,” she shares. Gucci – based on the book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed – will see Gaga take on the role of Patrizia Reggiani, who was convicted of arranging the killing of her ex-husband, Maurizio Gucci. A true-crime drama, it could very well launch yet another award-winning year for Gaga.

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