Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Alun Davies Punks Out Lady Gaga's Monsters

Lady Gaga's dancer Mike Silas wears Alun Davies disco ball armor.

Imagine a violent gang of hoodlums entering a night club and smashing its glittering disco ball into a thousand pieces, then murdering the people who live to dance under the disco ball each week; as if the disco ball were God and the night club their church.

Prop designer/art director Alun Davies takes the pieces of the broken disco ball and with them resurrects its worshippers by pumping their veins with glitter. He makes their once lifeless bodies dance as they begin a journey of revenge and self-discovery.

                    Above sketches by Alun Davies

These disco zombies wear glistening motorcycle helmets, shoulder pads and kneepads designed by Wales-born Alun Davies, that he calls “disco ball armor.” The outfits are the official costumes that Lady Gaga’s dancers wear whenever Gaga performs “Bad Romance” on her Monster Ball Tour. As a result, Davies’ outfits have become a central part of Gaga’s performance art each night of her tour, functioning as visual aids and telling a story of vigilantes seeking revenge on a cruel world.

It’s the vigilant spirit of the story Alun Davies’ disco ball costumes tell that is undeniably punk. The imagery of Davies’ costumes makes Lady Gaga’s male and female dancers look like characters from the movie Mad Max, as does the red smoke (dry ice) that covers the stage in a red fog making it look like the apocalyptic wasteland of Mad Max’s Australian landscape. Keeping with the constant symbolism of Gaga’s work, Davies’ disco ball costumes reveal a lot about punk culture and the ideas it represents. For instance, the checker-patterned motorcycle helmets are symbols of protection, suggesting that the dancers are warriors, and the shoulder pads make the dancers resemble the samurai-influenced villain Shredder from the ‘90s box-office hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Again, the kneepads are similar to Shredder. Therefore, the costumes do what Gaga does in all of her work, they reference various pieces of culture and sew them into a single structure, and as a result mirroring culture in a distorted way. On the whole, the punk spirit of the disco ball costumes is a warrior spirit.

The “Bad Romance” song itself is Lady Gaga’s love letter to the original punk culture of the mid-‘70s and the ‘80s, with its lyrical references to “leather, ““studded” and “revenge” and “criminal,” and she wants to inspire people around the world to unlock their inner punk. By unlocking their inner punk, they’re freeing themselves from their self-made and society-made prisons. For this reason, the “Bad Romance” performance ends with Gaga and her dancers away from the smoke-covered apocalyptic wasteland of the main stage and onto the stage’s apron closer to the fist-pumping audience, where the dancers remove their glittering disco ball helmets. Now the dancers have finally reached a peaceful place free of war, where they don’t need to protect themselves with body armor.

Alun Davies reminds the world that’s seen his disco ball costumes on the Monster Ball Tour that Lady Gaga is more of a punk than a pop star, and now the world can raise their fists high and sing at the top of their lungs to the shining light of the disco ball.

Lady Gaga's dancers wear disco ball armor by Alun Davies. Gaga wears a dress by Armani Prive.


Alun Davies' website :http://www.alun-davies.com/

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