Lady Gaga is one of the ultimate icons of our age, and today is the anniversary of one of the headline-making stunts that defined the early days of her career. It was stunts like this, along with some of the best music to come out in the 21st century, that cemented her place in pop culture history.
As we prepare for the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards (airing tonight), we need to look back at one of the most iconic VMA moments ever.
Back in 2010, Lady Gaga was making history by being nominated for a record 13 MTV VMAs for her videos “Bad Romance” and “Telephone,” which were both nominated for Video of the Year. Gaga ended up winning 8 trophies that night, including Video of the Year for “Bad Romance.”
However, she made even more headlines with what she wore to the event.
Gaga is well known for her show-stopping fashion statements, and her outfit for the 2010 VMAs was no exception. She initially showed up to the award ceremony in an Alexander McQueen gown and later changed into one from Giorgio Armani. But then, she made history with her third and final outfit: a dress, hat, boots, and purse made of very real raw meat.
Gaga wore the meat outfit to accept her award for Video of the Year, drawing stunned reactions from celebrities in the audience. Reactions to her dress have become an iconic meme since then.
The dress, designed by Franc Fernandez and styled by Nicola Formichetti, was made of flank steak supplied by Fernandez’ family butcher. As it was unique and designed to be worn once, Gaga had to be sewn into the dress backstage.
11 years ago, Lady Gaga asked Cher to hold her meat purse while accepting her Video of the Year trophy for "Bad Romance" wearing the iconic meat dress at the 2010 VMAs. pic.twitter.com/rhlrGfTGm1
While accepting her award, Gaga hugged, and then handed her meat purse to famous vegan Cher, who presented her with the award.
“I never thought I’d be asking Cher to hold my meat purse,” she joked.
But Mother Monster didn’t stop with the dress. While donning meat, she debuted a part of her anthem “Born This Way” for the first time, singing the chorus a capella to a stunned and ecstatic audience.
Why do we bother watching award shows after Lady Gaga announced Born This Way as the title of her third album by signing the chorus acapella when winning Video of the Year wearing a meat dress and that stunning gray/teal wig standing next to Cher? pic.twitter.com/seoEeNFbXr
While some people, including animal rights and vegan groups, spoke out against the dress, Gaga said it was a political statement, not just a fashion one. Shortly after the VMAs, she went on The Ellen Degeneres Show to talk about it with the vegan TV host.
“It has many interpretations,” Gaga told Ellen about the dress. “But for me this evening, If we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And I am not a piece of meat.”
The protest was also tied into her disdain for the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which was in place at the time. Before changing into the meat dress, she walked the red carpet with gay and lesbian members of the military.