Lady Gaga, meat Jana Sterbak

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Cher didn’t seem to notice, but her ensemble at Sunday’s Video Music Awards wasn’t the only been-there-done-that fashion moment of the evening. For her wardrobe change to accept her award for Video of the Year for ‘Bad Romance,’ Lady Gaga went totally retro. The ‘meat dress’ she wore was first done 23 years ago, in a controversial 1987 sculpture by Canadian artist Jana Sterbak.

Similar to the meat bikini that Gaga donned for a recent cover of Vogue Hommes Japan, the VMA garment of draped steak could be seen as a reflection of pop culture’s cravings around exposed female flesh. At least, that was one way observers saw Sterbak’s 50 pounds of raw flank steak, stitched together into a slowly rotting garment and displayed, to a sizable hue and cry, in a 1991 exhibition at Canada’s National Gallery.


Sterbak’s ‘Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorexic’ is now in the collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris’ modern art museum -- an appropriate locale, given that city’s intersection of art and fashion. Most recently it has been on view in the exhibition ‘elles@centrepompidou,’ a changing year-long survey dedicated to women artists.

No word yet on whether or not Gaga’s recycled dress will be going to an In-N-Out Burger near you.

-- Christopher Knight

Photos, from left: Lady Gaga at Sunday’s VMA Awards; and Jana Sterbak’s ‘Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorexic,’ 1987. Credits: Kevin Winter / Getty Images; Philippe Migeat, Centre Pompidou © Jana Sterbak