For the past ten years, Belgian stylist Tom Eerebout has chosen almost all the outfits the pop star Lady Gaga wore, each dress more extravagant than the next. We met the stylist during one of his few stopovers in Antwerp.
"Even on vacation, her looks are stylish."
"Do you see this one?", he asks showing us his tattooed fingers. "In England, we call them 'jobstoppers', and when I heard that, I had my knuckles tattooed right away to be sure that I'll never get a banal clerical job!" We are sitting in front of the Belgian designer Tom Eerebout. His job is definitely not ordinary. He has been working for Lady Gaga for ten years. He is the one who decides what the pop star wears, from the city to the stage.
Eerebout has been living in London for years now, but he recently bought a house in Antwerp: "It's an investment, to be closer to my family and (as a plan B) for the Brexit. It is right behind the Central Station".
We ring the bell but we will not cross the main door.
"My husband is working and our three dogs are here", he says, taking us to a café just a few steps away.
He orders a Vedett beer (for him) and a cappuccino (for us).
The last time he came to Belgium was seven months ago to pay a quick visit to his family. When you work for a pop star (who has since become a movie star), the working days are long and the miles are numerous.
"Especially when we're on tour, it's intense: working 18 hours a day is the norm!"
This fall, he will continue working with Gaga as the pop star is set to return to Las Vegas for her residency at Park MGM.
"In Vegas, my working days start in the morning around 10 a.m and last until 3 a.m the next morning. But my biggest stress is FedEx! Even though you've found the greatest outfit and claimed the exclusivity from its creator, it is a disaster if the courier doesn't deliver it in time.”
“For the Venice Film Festival, Gaga had to wear a flamingo feather dress, but we were afraid the couriers wouldn’t deliver it on time, leaving us high and dry. To avoid that, someone went to Italy by car with the dress. In the meantime, I was flying with $2 million worth of diamonds in my carry-on bag."
Eerebout recalls this story :
“It happens often that we have to change Gaga during a regular flight. In this case, we ask to reserve the toilets and uncoil her dress with steam from the flight attendants’ kettle".
The stylist has an almost ordinary look, but his sneakers and his shorts look like more a holiday-outfit than a city’s.
"Usually, I’m pretty dressed à la Keith Richards : Shirt, jeans and boots."
It’s not for his looks that he is well known anyway, but for what he imagines for Lady Gaga, the Italian-American pop star who broke through with Poker Face in 2009 and recently won an Oscar for her role in A Star Is Born.
"All of her looks are absolutely stylish, even when she’s out of her house to get in the car. It’s a huge work, but my colleague Sandra Amador helps me a lot. For us, it’s almost a full time job."
"We don’t shop in stores, because Gaga only wears clothes that have never been worn before. These last months, she has worn pieces from a Winter Collection which is only available today. We have to arrange directly with the fashion labels and the Couture houses. I am also often approached by designers who send me their sketches; I like it a lot because it gives me the opportunity to know new names."
"As a Belgian, I also try to use a lot from Belgian Fashion. Recently, Gaga wore a Bare ring, the brand of a young jeweler from Antwerp Dries Criel" entrusts the stylist. "For big events Sandra and I are in charge to look up the outfits, but during quiter periods we simply send Gaga a large suitcase of clothes, with a PDF of all the looks. ... and when she goes on vacation, we send her Bikinis."
"As a stylist, we can obviously have our own sense of style, but first and foremost we have to listen to our clients" he says.
"The outfits need to look like they’ve been just take out from her closet. I don’t have a recipe to capture Gaga’s style. There must always be a bit of madness."
"I am part of the ‘Haus of Gaga (the creative team around her). Just like me, most of the members have been working for her for years. We form a very big united family."
Throughout the interview, we are struck by his weird accent, summary of his journey. Born and raised in Bredene, on the Belgian coast he did some training in Bruges and then went at the Antwerp Academy, where he studied photography for several months.
“School was never my thing: I hate structures. When I stopped studying photography, I was lucky enough to find a job at American Apparel as a visual merchandiser. Responsible for the Benelux countries, I was often in Amsterdam".
After that he packed his bags and moved to Amsterdam, where he met Joost Vandebrug, a fashion and documentary photographer with whom he got married.
”Joost earned a contract with the prestigious agency ‘Art & Commerce’ for which he had to move to London. I followed him. However, I couldn’t find a job. Then I met Nicola Formichetti, who was Gaga’s stylist at the time, and I became his assistant in March 2010. I didn’t get paid that much, but I liked this job and I stayed. Four years later, when I had the opportunity to work for Kylie Minogue that I worshipped, I left Gaga before diving back in”.
“Working for Lady Gaga is my dream job: I work with pleasant people, I can unleash my creativity and it is different every single day. My dad had a hard time understanding that dressing up a celebrity could be a full-time job. For years, he pushed me into looking for a “real job”, but everything changed during Lady Gaga’s concert at Antwerps Sportpaleis, in 2018, when she dedicated a song to me. Finally my family acknowledged the impact my job had. Throughout the years, Gaga became a very good friend. Look. I did this tattoo with her”, he tells, showing us one of his ‘jobstoppers’.
From October 17th, Lady Gaga will continue her Las Vegas residency ‘Enigma’ at Park Theater.
Translated by LadyGagaNow.co
Source in French here.