There’s no denying Lady Gaga’s impact on music. A decade ago, the star cemented her status as one of the most influential artists around with the release of her second studio album, Born This Way. Led by an anthemic title track that focused on self-acceptance and unity, the album introduced another side of Gaga to the public. Though she’d always celebrated the diversity of her audience and peppered her lyrics with messages of hope, those issues moved to the forefront in Born This Way. An all-out celebration of her LGBTQIA+ fans, as well as a chance to push the boundaries of pop presentation, it became the star’s magnum opus.
The fashion of Born This Way was equally as iconic. Gaga had already had her share of headline-making outfits—meat dress, anyone?—but the fresh look for the new album was a full-scale reinvention that played with the codes of performance art to express the albums’ themes fully. “The Fame was pure pop, and she was living in that world for a while, but she started communicating with her fans and getting to know their problems,” explains Nicola Formichetti, Haus of Gaga’s longtime fashion director. “She was the first pop star to build this kind of relationship through social media. I remember her saying, ‘we need to do more. We need to create music and messages that are much deeper.’ Gay rights, gender equality, racial equality were all being talked about and fought for during that time, and they still are now. [Gaga] wanted to create a celebration of equality, one that would resonate with the listeners.”