She’s a fashion icon who dominated awards season with her reinvented style and new take on glamour. In an exclusive interview, her Haus of Gaga stylist, Tom Eerebout, talks us through Lady Gaga’s fashion evolution and the story behind each wow look
Words by Sophie Goddard
Meat dresses, machine-gun bras and entire outfits made out of human hair – there’s only one woman who could pull off those looks, and it’s Lady Gaga. After bursting on to the scene back in 2008, Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) has risen through the fashion ranks to become one of the world’s most innovative and iconic forces, with everyone from Giorgio Armani to Valentino designing for her. Tom Eerebout and Sandra Amador are the styling duo at the helm of the singer’s empire – Haus of Gaga, the creative collective responsible for all of her looks. Working alongside make-up artist Sarah Tanno and hairstylist Frederic Aspiras (former alumni of The Haus include designer Brandon Maxwell and fashion director Nicola Formichetti), Amador and Eerebout have styled Gaga for everything from the red carpet and stage shows to brand partnerships, including her latest collaboration with Tudor watches as the face of its Born To Dare campaign. Here, Eerebout fills us in on what the job entails.
When did you start working with Gaga?
‘I moved to London [from Belgium] in 2010 and became an assistant to Nicola Formichetti, who was her stylist. That’s how I met Gaga and Sandra [Amador]. We became good friends, then a year ago, Sandra and I officially set up as a duo.’
How do you and Sandra work together?
‘We definitely have different strengths, and as a pair we become a power team. We do everything together – it’s a collaboration – and with the rest of The Haus, like [hairstylist] Frederic and [make-up artist] Sarah. We want it to be picture-perfect. The hair can’t look like it’s something completely different; you want to create a look, an image and a dream. For example, with the periwinkle Golden Globes dress [by Valentino Couture] Gaga was like, “OK, maybe we should do the hair blue, too.” We all play off each other.’
Do you go to Gaga with ideas, or vice versa?
‘It works both ways. She gives us the creativity to do crazy things! We might come up with a mad idea and she’ll be like, “OK…” And really thinks about it before she says yes or no. She likes to talk about it.’
After nine years working for her, you must have a pretty good instinct for what she likes.
‘Erm, she’s very unpredictable, but that’s part of her magic and why people are so intrigued by her – even to us. She’ll never be predictable. One week we might do something very classic, and then the next we’ll amp it up. It keeps us on our toes.’
Have you ever disagreed with Gaga on a look?
‘Yeah, and sometimes she’ll persuade us! She’ll be like, “What do you think of this?” and we’ll say, “We’re not sure it works.” But then she’ll try it and it turns out she was right. I think what’s important with a client you’re dressing, is that you want them to feel comfortable. And even if, for example, the corset itself is not comfortable, at least they feel themselves in it – that’s down to collaboration.’
Is there anything she won’t wear?
‘No. I can’t think of something she hasn’t worn. That’s the nice thing; she’s open to anything. We’re very lucky to have a client like that. You can come up with anything and she’ll be like, “OK”. Not everyone is like that.’
Do you feel pressure to keep delivering these incredible looks?
‘Yeah, especially for the A Star Is Born press tour. We started big with the Valentino dress and people were like, “How are you going to top that?” We thought we’d shot ourselves in the foot, but we just kept doing it somehow.’
Did you plan each look strategically?
‘Yes. For example, we knew we wanted black for the Oscars, so we had that as a plan and didn’t use it for the rest of awards season. There is method in the madness.’
How many fittings does each look entail?
‘For Gaga’s day-to-day, we don’t do fittings, but for bigger events there are a lot of things to test and you have to do a few. If we have a couple of events coming up, we’ll try to do several fittings in one day. We also have the Vegas residency, so it’s all intertwined. There’s no specific way of working – it’s just going with the flow in a crazy, fun way. Sometimes, there are custom looks that won’t be finished until the week of the event, so we can be really up against it.’
Tell us about the outfits for the Vegas residency.
‘There’s a jazz show and a pop show, so they are totally different in terms of styling. There’s a lot to think about because Gaga’s moving so much and there are very fast [costume] changes. Sometimes, wardrobe only have 15 seconds to do it. She also has to be able to dance, and each look has to last 70 shows.’
Which do you enjoy dressing Gaga for the most – the red carpet or performances?
‘Both. I thought I’d prefer the music side, but after the whole awards season… it’s these huge events and it’s everywhere. You get to use the Tiffany diamonds, which no one since Audrey Hepburn has worn. Seeing them in person, it’s crazy.’
Who are Gaga’s style icons?
‘She has always said she loves Audrey Hepburn and Ella Fitzgerald. But she doesn’t get too influenced, she doesn’t want to copy.’
Lady Gaga is a brand ambassador for Swiss watch brand Tudor (tudorwatch.com). Her Las Vegas residency runs until 9 November