While Lady Gaga tends to create a stir all by herself, the Council of Fashion Designers of America at least helped her create another in fashion circles when it presented its Fashion Icon Award to the rock star.
Besides her mega-selling albums and ravenous fans, the singer is known for her over-the-top takes on fashion that often become fodder for late-night comics. She wore a dress made entirely out of raw meat at the MTV Video Music Awards in September. She later showed up at a baseball game in nothing but a bra and knickers. But fashion's leaders publicly supported the choice.
Designer Vera Wang described Gaga's style, according to USA Today, as "eclectic, original and fearless. I think she's her own person in terms of her style. She marches to her own drum."
"It's about what you are bringing to the table," said footwear designer Alejandro Ingelmo, who was also up for a CFDA award, to The Wall Street Journal. "I think [Lady Gaga] is very different and I respect that."
While the choice surprised some columnists and fashion bloggers partly because of her age (25), most were fixated on Lady Gaga's bizarre wardrobe picks. Past winners were more demure and included supermodels Iman and Kate Moss, actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman, and C.Z. Guest, the late gardening columnist and fixture of New York society.
Writing for New York Magazine, Amy Odell said other current fashion icons such as Kate Moss, Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton have shown they can drive fashion sales much more widely than Ms. Gaga's wild looks. But she added, "People still want to look at Gaga perhaps more than any other person on this planet because of what she wears, and that is what makes her a fashion icon."
Comparing Ms. Gaga to Cher, Bjork and Madonna, Blue Carreon wondered if her fashion stardom only represented "shock value" and likewise questioned whether she created trends, inspired women and supported mainstream fashion like past recipients of the award.
On the other hand, he noted that greatest fashion icons have all been a reflection of the times and Ms. Gaga may reflect her era.
"Slim Keith who described herself as a 'fabulous arm-piece, the ultimate decoration' and Grace Kelly are from that women-as-untouchable-deities era," wrote Mr. Carreon for Forbes.com. "Twiggy was the poster child for the youth quake. Raquel Welch of the excess of the '80s. Carolyn Bessette Kennedy of '90s minimalism. And Michelle Obama of the democratization of fashion. What is Lady Gaga a representation of? Is she the model of self-expression? The symbol of the freedom of being able to choose who or what you want to be?"
Are fashion icons' influence on fashion overestimated or underestimated?