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Meet the Mystery Meat Dress: Lady Gaga Explains Rare VMAs Outfit

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"I never thought I'd be asking Cher to hold my meat purse."

That was Lady Gaga's unusual opening statement when she stepped onstage at MTV's Video Music Awards Sunday to receive her Video of the Year award from pop legend Cher.

After arriving at the ceremony in a dress from the late designer Alexander McQueen's final collection and then changing into a weighty, architectural gown and spiky crown by Giorgio Armani, Gaga turned heads (and we'd have to imagine noses) in her final outfit, a Franc Fernandez dress (plus boots, hat, and purse) cut together from what appeared to be slabs of raw meat. The outfit echoed the controversial meat bikini she recently wore for the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan.

[VMA Photos: Lady Gaga, Snooki make red carpet splash]

After the show, in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Gaga tried to explain that the dress was a political statement. Discussing how she'd been escorted to the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles by members of the U.S. military who had been discharged from the service due to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Lady Gaga said: "It is a devastation to me that I know my fans who are gay ... feel like they have governmental oppression on them. That's actually why I wore the meat tonight."

DeGeneres, a famous vegan who often speaks out on behalf of animalrights, pounced on the topic while keeping her distance from the dress."It's certainly no disrespect to anyone that's vegan or vegetarian,"Gaga responded. "As you know, I am the most judgment-free human beingon the earth. It has many interpretations, but for me this evening,it's 'If we don't stand up for what we believe in, we don't fight forour rights, pretty soon we're gonna have as much rights as the meat onour bones.'"

Gesturing to the Japanese Vogue cover, she snarled and added, "And I am not a piece of meat."

[Photos: More moments with Lady Gaga]

DeGeneres didn't seem to buy that fairly speciously reasoned explanation, andinstead offered Lady Gaga an outfit that didn't need to be butchered: avegetable bikini and skirt made of corn husks. "It's fabulous! Oh it'skale!" Gaga said. "Well, it's the best of both worlds, you and me,Ellen."

The meat dress's designer, Franc Fernandez, has yet toissue any statements about his unusual gown -- or confirm whether itwas truly made of actual meat -- but he retweeted Cher's compliment:"The way it was cut & fitted to her body was AMAZING ! Meat pursewas genius ! As Art piece it was astonishing! No moral Judgement!"Fernandez, who has also dressed Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera, madethe diamond headpiece Gaga wore in the video for "Bad Romance," whichpicked up seven of the singer's eight VMA wins last night.

[Photos: Leotards and bandages among wildest onstage outfits]

PETA, unsurprisingly, was less of a fan. The animal-rights advocacyorganization quickly issued a statement condemning Gaga for her offbeatsartorial choice. "Meat is the decomposing flesh of a tormented animalwho didn't want to die, and after a few hours under the TV lights, itwould smell like the rotting flesh it is and likely be crawling inmaggots -- not too attractive, really."

Gaga is just lucky no dogs -- or Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, for that matter -- were in the house that night.


[Photo credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]  

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