Lady Gaga's Jonas Åkerlund-directed "John Wayne" video, released last week, was the ultimate camp-rock spectacular, with the Joanne singer returning to her roots as a leading pop provocateur. In the neon-lit clip, Gaga wrestles with her man problems, as she drives wildly into "the eye of the storm" and sees herself constantly wrapped in the arms of a "John Wayne." Beyond Åkerlund's perfectly campy fast-paced cuts and Gaga's Thriller-inspired choreo, the video also introduced a noteworthy lineup of rising designers that all created custom cuntry looks specifically for the director's treatment.
Among the range is Christian Cowan, who recently made his NYFW debut with a cameo from "Stars Are Blind" songstress Paris Hilton. The London College of Fashion graduate has worked with Gaga before, dressing her in a full hot pink glitter suit with a matching wide-brimmed selfie hat. No stranger to pop stars, Cowan has dressed everyone from Miley Cyrus to Charli XCX amd Tove Lo—his colorful, over-the-top aesthetic a favorite among the music industry's most flamboyant. In "John Wayne," Gaga wears Cowan's sexy full-body catsuit, while racing after her tumultuous lover on a motorcycle.
OUT caught up with the on-the-rise talent to learn more about his work and collaborating with Mother Monster's team.
OUT: How did you get involved in fashion?
Christian Cowan: Up until I was 12, I wanted to be David Attenborough. Then one day I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer—I like the escapism of fashion.
You've done a lot of work with pop stars. What about them inspires you?
I love how they are creating fantasies for people to get lost in. For me, it's all about creating an amazing visual that makes people happy [and] pop stars do that.
You've worked with Gaga before. How did you first team up?
When I started at Central Saint Martins, I made a few looks—Dazed came and Instagrammed it. Gaga's team emailed me the next day asking for the whole collection. A week later, she wore a full look. That's what started it all. I was mega happy as, obviously, I love her.
Describe the look you made for "John Wayne."
It's a leather full body catsuit that covers her whole head, all the way down to her toes, but with cut-outs all over it showing her face, stomach, an arm and a leg. My brand aesthetic is all about distorting the familiar. I love to take something everyone knows, and make it completely new and unseen.
What was Gaga's styling team looking for?
They wanted to do something that was [reminiscent] of her "Paparazzi" era. I knew they needed something that was easy to move in—it's a design I've had in my head for a while, so when they asked I knew it would be perfect. She looked amazing in it; she makes everything look better.
If you could dress anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
Dolly Parton, because she's larger than life, super awesome and genuinely doesn't care what anyone thinks. She just does her thing, does loads of charity work and makes loads of money.
Christian Cowan's original "John Wayne" sketch