Lady Gaga is for freedom, character, authenticity. Icon of a whole generation (or would it be more correct to write "of several" generations?), the artist is now an ambassador of a new fragrance. The perfect excuse to talk to Vogue about beauty, uncertain times, and the concept she has long been trying to promote: “wonderful imperfection.”
The universe of perfumery was not entirely unknown to Lady Gaga. The singer, songwriter and actress launched her own perfume, Fame, eight years ago. But it is as the face of the fragrance Voce Viva, and the pro-equality campaign that accompanies it, created by the Italian fashion house Valentino, that Gaga now stars in the exclusive world of haute parfumerie. Fragrances mean different things to different people. Some evoke emotions associated with our past, others carry sentimental value, others transport us to places where we have been in the past. The artist is no exception: “The perfume of a freshly made sauce, meatballs and pork sausage. When I was little. Every Sunday at two in the afternoon, after church. The whole family at the table. My happiest memories with the same smell every Sunday”, remembers nostalgic Lady Gaga.
The message of Voce Viva is powerful and strong. It invites people to use their voice and share their values, their diversity and their beliefs with the world. "I believe that we discover our voice when we discover ourselves", observes Gaga in conversation with Vogue. “In fact, it were the voices of my entire family that inspired me in my personal life and in my career. The hard-working attitude, of those who do not give up. The voice of my family is me.” With Valentino, the singer has more in common than her Italian origins - born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, in New York, United States, both her mother and father have Italian ancestry. Both believe that having a strong voice is essential in order to be able to love the world. And both Valentino and Lady Gaga love the world so much. That is why it is important that their voices are loudly heard. “My voice is learning, it is listening, it is expressing and sometimes changing. My voice belongs to me”, adds the singer. Many voices have the power to have a positive impact, but in today's world, even the least auspicious voices can be impressive. That is why hate speech is so negatively powerful, and that is why we have to fill that "negative space" with a hope speech. A Voce Viva is a voice that exists alone, it is a force of nature. For Lady Gaga, searching for our voice has no end in sight. We learn who we want to be while also unlearning things we no longer believe in. Our voice comes and goes, guarantees the artist: “I would say to anyone who is looking for their voice to cultivate it exactly as they wish. Know that it can be strong and that it belongs to you.”
In 2020, when we live in challenging, uncertain times that make us fear for the future, the connection between beauty and mental health has never been more obvious. In the singer's opinion, beauty is a process that we all go through, and encompasses the way we see ourselves. And it can be complicated. However, the challenge of loving ourselves is the most beautiful thing of all. Lady Gaga confesses that she feels at the height of her beauty right after meditating. This reminds her that beauty is a state of mind that is impossible to define, because it comes from within. Although working on ourselves from the inside is crucial, Voce Viva's ambassador also assumes the power of visual transformation as a catalyst for how we feel inside ... and outside: “I believe in self- care as the best beauty tip of all. If you care about your mind, body, skin, heart and healing, your approach to the concept of beauty is holistic. For me, using makeup, as well as perfume, to transform the way I feel at a given moment is also important.” In 2019, studies from the University of Glasgow conducted in partnership with the company My Confidence Matters concluded that 79% of women lack confidence in their work, as well as in other areas of their lives. "I have to give myself confidence for it to be real," says Gaga. “I am always building my confidence. I focus on the skills I have and work from them. It's like building a house with no end in sight. And I try to remember that these skills can be simple things.” Whenever, throughout her career, someone told her that she was not good enough, she never let that take over her. She promised that whenever she heard a “no”, that “no” would motivate her to work harder. So the most daring thing she did was to believe in herself.
Faced with the mental health crisis that we witness worldwide, and taking into account her own reality and daily struggle, the Shallow singer founded the Born This Way Foundation with the aim of encouraging positive change and focusing on an “agenda of kindness”, as she explains. In fact, that is her personal motto. For Lady Gaga, it is kindness that leads to the healing of mind, body and soul. Kindness, which invigorates programs that are fearless in their effort to help humanity to learn the importance of taking care of ourselves. Kindness, which is a human right and something that all people, from all backgrounds, should have “access” to, especially those whose life circumstances prove to be more difficult. The song 911, belonging part of her most recent album, Chromatica, released in May, includes one of the most personal lyrics she has ever written - it is a cry and a celebration of the acceptance that “mental challenges” are part of you. This album aims to convey the message that life is sometimes hard, but that we can still “dance through it”; having the courage to fight against pain and to enjoy each day the best we can.
For the Voce Viva perfume campaign, whose motto is “my voice, my strength”, American filmmaker Harmony Korine made a short film accompanied by a song from Gaga's new album called Sine From Above. In the video, the singer appears in a fabulous pink dress designed by the historic Italian house, while her voice echoes through the forest. “It reminded me of my freedom and how I have the opportunity to feel this magic, a freedom and magic that I would like everyone to have the opportunity to feel”, assured the artist to Vogue. She added: “This song is about the passion I feel when I manifest the sounds that I hear in my head. They appear in the form of songs, messages, ideas and love. This is my strength. These sounds are the function that forms the basis of my voice. I listen to them and then use them. They are how I live, how I love, how I thrive and how I survive.” Strength is, in fact, something that this woman does not lack. The pop diva is expected to enter the next production of Ridley Scott, where she will star along Al Pacino, Adam Driver and Robert De Niro, whose debut is scheduled for the end of 2021. We mortals will continue on this side of the screen absorbing not only her most precious gift - the voice - but also the power, and the strength, of the beautiful messages of this living legend.
Originally published on Vogue Portugal November issue, "The Beauty of Imperfection."