The Hidden Meaning Of Lady Gaga's Inaugural Dress

Lady Gaga isn't exactly known for subtlety. Who can forget the bubble dress which she wore to the 2009 Grammy Celebration tour, or a blood-splattered dress at the MTV Video Music Awards the same year, or the iconic meat dress which made an appearance in 2010? (via Teen Vogue). So it's no surprise that as she descended the steps of the Capitol, preparing to sing the national anthem for President Joe Biden's inauguration, her gown was replete with style and symbolism.

The red, black and gold ensemble from Schiaparelli Haute Couture, custom designed by Daniel Roseberry was a study in contrast and sophistication. The designer reveals in a statement that "As an American living in Paris, this ensemble is a love letter to the country I miss so dearly and to a performer whose artistry I have so long admired" (via Harper's Bazaar).

The flawless tailoring of the long sleeved bodice was nearly militaristic (especially alongside members of the armed forces) and contrasted sharply with the sumptuous femininity of the blazingly red ball gown skirt. "She brought the inaugural ball to the stage in a year where you're not going to get all of the dress up, the ball gowns that we have come to look at and adore and criticise," fashion consultant Lauren Rothman told the BBC of Gaga's statement outfit.

Gaga wore an enormous brooch of a bird in flight

The centerpiece of Gaga's Inauguration-stopping performance was the enormous gold brooch of a bird in flight, which had many on Twitter to ornithological speculation. As reported by Cosmopolitan, many were quick to point out the strong Hunger Games vibes of the ensemble as a whole, and the oversized brooch in particular, which strongly resembled the franchise's main symbol, the mockingjay. Within the dystopian series, the (fictional) mockingjay is a symbol of resistance to a fascist regime (via ScreenRant) especially as worn over the heart by the story's protagonist, Katniss Everdeen.

Gaga took to Twitter shortly after the inauguration to clear up any confusion. "A dove carrying an olive branch" stated the singer, with a close-up of the bird. "May we all make peace with each other." The simple statement echoed the calls for unity that characterized Biden's most recent speeches, especially today's inaugural address.

'The performance of her life' said social media

Stunning dress or not, many took to Twitter to praise the singer not for her head-turning dress, but her heartfelt performance. One user said: "this must be the performance of her life. that is one of the best anthem sings I have ever heard. I'm so tired of people making it unrecognizable." A second described the catharsis she felt as she heard Gaga sing: "Wow, goosebumps and tears. I have been so worried. Now I can breath." Columnist Max Boot tweeted: "The national anthem has seldom resonated as much as it did when Lady Gaga emphasized the words 'our flag was still there' and pointed to the flag on the Capitol, which had been attacked just a fortnight earlier."

A few also appreciated not just the song, but the fashion nod Gaga tried so hard to convey; on social media user posted: "@ladygaga combined fashion and poetry: her inauguration dress is a remembrance poppy flower to commemorate fallen soldiers."

A Bird, a branch, and the Star-Spangled Banner

Traditionally symbolic of peace and mercy, the dove is a biblical reference to the story of Noah, who built an ark to preserve the animals of the earth during a world destroying flood (via As the story goes, a dove was sent out when the rain stopped to see if dry land could be found, and returned with an olive branch, a symbol that life could begin once more.

The United States national anthem similarly references endurance through hardship. Taken from a poem by Francis Scott Key, the notoriously complex song references the siege of Ft. McHenry, which withstood a 24 hour onslaught from British forces during the War of 1812 (via American Battlefield Trust).

Of particular poignancy was the moment when Gaga turned towards the flag flying over the Capitol, singing "Oh say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave," where exactly two weeks before, armed insurrectionists had attempted to stop Congress from certifying the electoral votes for Biden's election.

From fashion to poetry to prayer, the theme of enduring through hardship was a common one at President Biden's inauguration, and one he spoke to directly in his address. "We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities," said the new President. "Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain." (via NPR)