Has Lady Gaga influenced Rihanna's style?
A couple of years back, I wrote a story in The Times about how tame style had become in the music industry. Fast forward two years to Lady Gaga's blood-streaked torso and human-hair hats.
Though there are still plenty of pop stars playing it safe in the style department, Gaga's wacky style has brought total freakdom back into the music arena (finally!) -- and has opened the door for other female artists to cultivate their own deviant looks.
Rihanna, in fact, didn't start flirting with S&M gear (aside from the occasional Herve Leger "bondage" dress) until Gaga started making the scene. At the 2008 Grammys, the pretty ingenue wore a flirty purple cocktail dress by Zac Posen, her newly shorn hair the only subversive thing about her look.
Since then, she's gone from tame to totally outlandish -- rocking such oddities as lace blindfolds, jumpsuits composed of mere strips of fabric, jackets and dresses with huge metal spikes mounted on the shoulders and leather bustiers dripping with metal chains.
Is Rihanna trying to out-freak Lady G.? From the get-go, the polished pop tart was fashion-forward. Her enviable figure and adorable face meant designers were always going to be throwing themselves at her feet. But somewhere along the way -- post-Gaga -- she (or her notoriously protective team of handlers) made the decision to take her look several steps beyond red-carpet pretty.
The first real indication that she was finding her way in more costume-y waters was back in May 2009, when she donned that crazy tuxedo featuring clown-sized puffed sleeves for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala. That outfit -- in all its loopy weirdness -- seems downright demure compared to the bondage-like ensembles she's been rocking lately.
Do you think Lady Gaga's loco style has (consciously or subconsciously) spurred Rihanna into new feats of freaky fashion? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Photos: Lady Gaga, center, at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in September (credit: Christopher Polk / Getty Images). Rihanna at the 2008 Grammys, left (credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times), and in concert at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, right (credit: Theo Wargo / Getty Images for the Island Def Jam Music Group).