From her “meat dress” at the 2010 VMAs to the countless couture gowns she’s worn while promoting "A Star Is Born," there is no question that Lady Gaga knows how to make a fashion statement on the red carpet. But the oversized Marc Jacobs pantsuit she wore this week may just be her most powerful yet.
The actress and singer attended Elle magazine’s “Women in Hollywood” event on Monday night in an ‘80s-inspired power suit — a large departure from the glamorous, Old Hollywood looks she’s been photographed in of late. In her speech to accept the honor of the night, she revealed that there was a purposeful reasoning behind her look.
"I tried on dress after dress today getting ready for this event, one tight corset after another, one heel after another, a diamond, a feather, thousands of beaded fabrics and the most beautiful silks in the world,” she said. "To be honest, I felt sick to my stomach. And I asked myself: What does it really mean to be a woman in Hollywood?
"We are not just objects to entertain the world," she continued. "We are not simply images to bring smiles or grimaces to people’s faces. We are not members of a giant beauty pageant meant to be pit against one another for the pleasure of the public. We women in Hollywood, we are voices. We have deep thoughts and ideas and beliefs and values about the world and we have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced.”
Gaga noted that designers like Dior, Raf Simons and Calvin Klein were in the mix, but none of their looks felt right for this event. "So, after trying 10 or so dresses, with a sad feeling in my heart, that all that would matter was what I wore to this red carpet, I saw an oversized Marc Jacobs suit buried quietly in the corner,” she said, noting that there was some confusion among her team when she put it on. “This was an oversized men’s suit made for a woman. Not a gown. And then I began to cry. In this suit, I felt like me today. In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut. And then wondering what I wanted to say tonight become very clear to me.
"I wanted to take the power back. Today I wear the pants.”
"As a sexual assault survivor by someone in the entertainment industry, as a woman who is still not brave enough to say his name, as a woman who lives with chronic pain, as a woman who was conditioned at a very young age to listen to what men told me to do, I decided today I wanted to take the power back. Today I wear the pants.”
Pantsuits hold an important place in fashion history beginning with Katherine Hepburn’s decision to don of a pair of pants and jacket in "Woman of the Year," followed by power dressing in the ‘80s, through Hilary Clinton’s dedication to them in the last election (and always). Considering it was illegal for women to wear pants in public as recently as the 1940s, Gaga’s sartorial choice sends an message — loud and clear — about taking back control.
"I had a revelation that I had to be empowered to be myself today more than ever,” she said. "To resist the standards of Hollywood, whatever that means. To resist the standards of dressing to impress. To use what really matters: my voice.” She went on to reveal that she has dealt with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and trauma, or what she calls “a tornado of pain,” and called on the importance of making mental health a “global priority.”
Gaga finished her speech by asking her fellow women to continue to “lift their voices” and speak out for what’s right.
"For me, this is what it means to be a woman in Hollywood. It means, I have a platform. I have a chance to make a change. I pray we listen and believe and pay closer attention to those around us to those in need ... Be a helping hand. Be a force for change.”