Lady Gaga, in Ver­sace, sends a sparkly Su­per Bowl mes­sage

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - VANESSA FRIED­MAN

Last year, Lady Gaga belted out the na­tional an­them at Su­per Bowl 50 in a red Lurex pantsuit by Gucci, but this time around, for her star­ring per­for­mance at half­time Sun­day — be­gin­ning with her plunge off the roof of NRG Sta­dium in Hous­ton like some kind of gi­ant scifi an­gel, daz­zling the au­di­ence with both her Swarovski-cov­ered shine and her per­for­mance — she turned to her old friend Donatella Ver­sace.

Why? Not just be­cause Ver­sace knows a state­ment out­fit when she makes one, or be­cause she’s a de­signer who un­der­stands how to dress a power woman, or be­cause she has had some ex­pe­ri­ence with Su­per Bowl style hav­ing out­fit­ted Bruno Mars for his duet with Bey­oncé at Su­per Bowl 50. But it was also be­cause the choice helped to sup­port a sub­tler, ar­guably more pow­er­ful, mes­sage.

Ver­sace is “fam­ily to us; we’ve worked to­gether for so many years,” said Bran­don Maxwell, Lady Gaga’s long­time stylist.

In­deed, the two are so close, Lady Gaga wrote a song about Ver­sace (“Donatella,” on “Art­pop”) and starred in a 2013 Ver­sace ad cam­paign as the de­signer’s dop­pel­ganger.

Ru­mour was she had been cast to play Donatella in the com­ing “Amer­i­can Crime Story” miniseries on the mur­der of her brother Gianni Ver­sace, although that has now been de­nied.

In a show of mu­tual sup­port, Donatella Ver­sace flew to Hous­ton and watched from the stands. She even In­sta­grammed a pho­to­graph of her­self and Lady Gaga back­stage get­ting ready. (As an aside, the bio on her In­sta­gram reads: “Me, Donatella. I be-

lieve in in­di­vid­u­al­ity and the free­dom to be who­ever you want to be” — sound fa­mil­iar?)

Ac­cord­ing to Maxwell, Ver­sace even “helped zip up” the leo­tard. Which, in case any­one was won­der­ing, was ac­tu­ally a “cus­tom fully beaded iri­des­cent jump­suit with sculp­tural shoul­der de­tail paired with fully em­broi­dered boots, both em­bel­lished with Swarovski crys­tals.”

There also were Swarovski crys­tals all over the “cus­tom gold cropped jacket ac­cented with spiked shoul­der pads” and the hot pants-plus-cropped sculp­tural white jacket with metal­lic hard­ware look that Lady Gaga wore at the end. That’s a lot of sparkle. Ul­ti­mately, the out­fits with all their crys­tals were less the point than the re­la­tion­ship be­hind them. Along with Lady Gaga’s mid­per­for­mance shout-out to her mom and dad, her highly di­verse backup cast­ing and her choice of songs (in­clud­ing “This Land Is Your Land” and “Born This Way”), the Ver­sace con­nec­tion gave an added di­men­sion to her prom­ise of a show that was about “in­clu­sion.”

The point: fam­ily is what you make of it; the big­ger, the more ex­pan­sive, the bet­ter. That’s not ex­plic­itly po­lit­i­cal, but it is pointed. No mat­ter how dressed up in glam­our it comes.

To that end, she didn’t limit the looks to Ver­sace but opened it up to the wider fash­ion clan. Her dancers all wore Dr. Martens boots, and she sported a black Vera Wang cropped sweater and a silk cut­away miniskirt with an enor­mous train to the pregame show and photo op.

(En­larg­ing her purview even more, she ap­peared ear­lier in the evening in Tif­fany’s first Su­per Bowl ad wear­ing a simple black turtle­neck and a charm bracelet from its new HardWear line, which was in­spired by in­dus­trial de­sign and by a uni­sex bracelet from 1971. That par­tic­u­lar ex­pan­sion may have been less broadly con­vinc­ing, how­ever, given that just be­fore the com­mer­cial was shown, the news broke that Frederic Cu­me­nal, the Tif­fany chief ex­ec­u­tive, was step­ping down.)

Still, after the half­time show, and un­til the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ as­ton­ish­ing come­back, so­cial me­dia was pretty unan­i­mous in declar­ing Lady Gaga the winner of the night — although W mag­a­zine be­stowed that hon­our on Ver­sace.

In fact, it may be their col­lab­o­ra­tion, and the cross-bor­der meetingof-the-minds it rep­re­sents, that tri­umphed.

TOM PEN­NING­TON, GETTY IM­AGES

Lady Gaga in her Ver­sace leo­tard at the Su­per Bowl Sun­day night.

TOM PEN­NING­TON, GETTY IM­AGES

The Gaga-Ver­sace cross-bor­der col­lab­o­ra­tion was a winner.

TOM PEN­NING­TON, GETTY IM­AGES

Swarovski crys­tals adorned the cus­tom gold-cropped jacket.

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