Let’s kick off the New Year with some bright, uncomplicated fun, shall we?
Katy Perry launched her Las Vegas residency at the Resorts World Theater last week and reminded everyone that she is still your Number One Girl when it comes to stage costumes. No one does it quite like her.
Sure, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga (our picks to round out the triumvirate of pop star stage costume queens) have been known to unleash some almost-literal showstoppers on stage, but the approaches or underlying meanings differ wildly among the three performers.
Beyoncé’s whole public persona centers round uplifting Black women and providing regal, goddess-inspired imagery that’s beautiful and aspirational and serves to correct centuries of misogynoir imagery. Gaga has more of an art school approach to stagewear, incorporating a lot of tropes and motifs from drag queens and club kids.
Both of these approaches are not only valid, but absolutely correct for each woman and the messages that she sends in her work. But Katy just wants to be your cartoon princess and every costume she wears on stage is equally as funny as it is fabulous.
If there’s a message here, we don’t think it’s any more complicated than “Have fun and be your most authentic self.” Granted, it may seem strange to characterize all this glitter and foofaraw as “authentic,” but much like Beyoncé and Gaga, Katy’s stagewear essentially takes her music and renders it in clothing form. This is who she is – or at least, who she wants to project to the world.
These are more or less drag queen costumes. Sure, you could say that about a lot of pop stagewear, but these costumes were designed by people well known for their work with drag queens and in the ballroom scene (Zaldy, Heather Picchiottino, Johnny Wujek) and they all have that intense devotion to theme that you’ll find in the best drag and ball costumes. It sounds trite as hell, but every costume here tells a story and creates a character.
And not one of those characters comes off as serious, or self-absorbed or trying to send any message more complicated than “Let’s have a party, right now.” We can practically hear the music in all of these pictures.
– Zaldy – Act 1 (Katy Doll Dress), Act 3 (Red Mushroom Jumpsuit), Act 4 (Soda Can Dress)
– Heather Picchiottino – Act 2 (Short White Dress with Headwrap and Bubble Jacket), Act 4 (Trash Cape)
– Johnny Wujek – Act 5 (Yellow/Orange Rhinestone Dress), Finale (Rainbow Gown)
[Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Katy Perry, John Shearer/Getty Images for Katy Perry]