Whether she’s wearing a prosthetic penis or a sweaty meat dress, Lady Gaga has always insisted that she is still the same person underneath any ridiculous contraption. It makes sense, then, that her decision to go “au naturel” on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar doesn’t strike her as a huge departure from even her most complicated looks. “I don’t really view it as ‘natural.’ I think that artifice is the new reality. It’s more about just being honest and sincere to the core of what you do. Whether I’m wearing lots of makeup or no makeup, I’m always the same person inside,” she explains in the magazine’s October issue.
This cover image shouldn’t really come as a shock to Little Monsters, or even the most casual Gaga fans, either. We’ve seen Gaga take this same approach before, previously toning down her appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair, and more recently in one of her many looks for the “You and I” video. But in the days following her Jo Calderone appearance at the VMAs, which left us processing the potential meaning behind her decision to go as her Danny Zuko meets Ralph Macchio doppelgänger, she can’t blame us for searching for random political messages and endorsements for marriage equality underneath that plain face and limp hair. Isn’t that what we’ve been conditioned to do? Gaga gets even more confusing by redefining this “same person” as an entirely new creation altogether. “There’s this idea that it’s all natural, but everything’s been staged to look natural. It is also an invention. It’s just that my inventions are different. I often get asked about my artifice, but isn’t fashion based on the idea that we can create a fantasy?” she says. So basically Gaga is a natural entity until she produces a new fashion invention and/or fantasy, which should then be naturally interpreted by her fans using the lens of the specific artifice that she’s previously created. Or something. Huh?
When it comes to actual clothing, Gaga says she finds fashion inspiration from every working designer, ranging from established icons like the late Alexander McQueen to emerging talents currently being groomed at Parson Institute—ahem, just like her sister Natali. Nepotism, much? These shots may not be as natural as those outtakes from Vogue Hommes Japan, but if you’re looking for ways to prove to your grandparents that this Lady Gaga creature is in fact human—look, two arms!—browse through the newest fantasy from the mind of Stefani Germanotta, below.