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Lady Gaga is sitting right next to me in a suite at the Edition Hotel in West Hollywood, our toes centimetres apart. Her makeup is minimal: mascara, a little foundation; her face framed by black, wide-rim Celine glasses. She’s wearing a fluted black blazer — Alexander McQueen, perhaps — a t-shirt printed with a colourful cartoon, green suspenders attached to black jeans with huge rips at the knees. On her feet, long green socks and moccasins. Her hair is in a slick French roll, presumably ready for tonight’s party. But I don’t ask. 

Lady Gaga at her Dom Perignon party

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

‘I’m an artist. This is how we dress,’ she says. (Meanwhile, I’m in full-Tatler mode: blow dry, vintage black Versace Couture slip dress and embellished stilettos. But then again, I’m about to be whisked straight off to the party to which Gaga will make a late entrance.) She’s been working in the studio in Malibu all day, she says. But, again, I daren’t ask for details. Not because I’m coy: because I’ve flown all the way from London to LA to ask Lady Gaga ONE question – and this isn’t The One. So I zip it, smile and nod, and she twists a tulip glass of Dom Perignon rosé between her fingers. 

Lady Gaga in her new Dom Perignon campaign

Mario Sorrenti

We aren’t here for the release of a new album or movie, though there is plenty going on: she is up this weekend for an Oscar for her original song Hold My Hand, which featured in Top Gun: Maverick. We are here, instead, on the invitation of Dom Perignon, with whom Gaga has been partnered for a number of years to promote its vintage rosé champagne. It is surreal to meet a woman this famous, this talented and this successful. But within a second of her entering the room, you get it. Her aura smacks you across the face – a knockout. 

The saga started trollied at Tottenham Hotspur’s brand-new stadium in July last year, forty-six-point-five glasses of Dom Perignon down, nibbling on black cod from Nobu – when I brazenly told the PR that if I was not invited to the next Lady Gaga event, we were falling out. There was context: we were at Tottenham not for Harry Kane, but to see Gaga perform her Chromatica Ball. That conversation quickly faded to a blur, but it turns out I got my point across. In October, one week before I ended up with another plastic glass of champagne (regrettably not DP) in the air over the Atlantic, the text pinged through: ‘Want to come to Los Angeles and interview Lady Gaga? ✈️🍾’

I rather did. 

The view from the suite at The Edition on Sunset Boulevard

I was told I’d be granted two questions and two follow ups over email. But any newshound knows they can get more if they sniff around enough. The 48-hour trip was also to include a private dinner, a performance and a party. Not to mention Dom Perignon tastings – of which I am remarkably fond. So off I went, Fendi sunglasses on, to bask in the California sun, in search of the great diva. A hint of her guardedness became evident one mile high: ‘will be performing’ became ‘should be’ and then ‘might be’. I landed at LAX with no clue what to expect.

I had missed America. Even the jet lag. Late-night room service, episodes of the Kardashians and hours spent gazing from the balcony over the LA cityscape scuppered any ideas of sleep. There’s a picture on my phone taken at 3:06am in the gym; and a flurry of WhatsApps sent to colleagues at 4:30am as it became evident Truss was about to quit. ‘Get the piece up now!’ I text-screamed to the digital team I had abandoned at Vogue House. At 6am I went for a run from Sunset Boulevard into leafy, prim Beverly Hills, the Real Housewives still aslumber. 

Later in the morning, Brad* (not his real name) The Driver picks me up in a Tesla and my very Hollywood saga begins. Rolling off Sunset, the engine is silent but Brad is not. He is, apparently, chauffeur to an extremely renowned musician and has gossip on everyone: P Diddy (‘throws the best parties’), OJ (‘an asshole’)… Hollywood’s secret? ‘90 per cent of the people here are swingers.’ Brad has stories of dead bodies and cover-ups and A-list spats – though Gaga, he says, keeps herself to herself. All this, as we pass by Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Calabasas, into the Santa Monica Mountains. We arrive at Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards, and the only thing compelling me to get out of the Gossipmobile is the promise of Perignon. 

Tasting the new 2013 vintage Dom Perignon over a lunch by Michelin-starred chef Daisy Ryan

Lucky I do. The view from this wine estate is majestic – a knockout of Californian hills and azure blue sky – and the sun gently roasts our skin. It feels like the happiest, luckiest of October mornings; a fragrant medley of suncream, champagne and soft breeze, 2,000 feet high in the Santa Monica Mountains. And we’re not all that far from Gaga’s mansion in Zuma Beach. Is this serenity her every morning? 

The dramatic location of the tasting: a circular platform jutting out into the Santa Monica mountains, with headphones providing a serene soundtrack

Perhaps not exactly: we are led out to a majestic circular plateau, jutting out into the vista, to sample Dom Perignon’s new 2013 vintage. Before each of us, there is an elegant metal stand holding a set of headphones and an empty tulip glass. Headphones on, the glasses are quickly filled by a model set of waiters and waitresses, and off we go. It’s not a taste, but a feeling – like magic: gently intoxicating. 

A lunch cooked by Michelin-starred chef Daisy Ryan follows, all paired with more – much more – of that vintage. Minutes turn to hours, and we are lulled into a state of reverie. That Lady Gaga interview back at the hotel? Nearly forgotten. But not quite. I sit next to the Chef de Cave Vincent Chaperon and twist his ear for information to no avail: they have Zoomed, but never met in person.

Mercifully, as we arrive back in West Hollywood, it is announced that the Lady is late. Our two-question slot has also now become a one-question slot. At least there is time to get ready, to blow-dry my hair, step into that glamorous outfit: I am off to a party in the Hollywood Hills, after all. 

An exclusive image from Lady Gaga’s latest campaign with Dom Perignon

Heather Sommerfield

But first, the biggest and smallest interview of my life. After a preview of the new campaign – themed around the ‘labour of creativity’ – a set of images photographed by her longtime collaborator Mario Sorentti, and a short film directed and composed by Woodkid – shot partly in the historic Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers, a million aesthetic miles from Sunset – 14 of us are ushered into a white suite, settling in a cluster on a white sofa. One of them is such a fan, she’s turned up in Fame-era Gaga cosplay – black, cropped fur jacket, leather trousers, platform boots. For all it took to get there (between us, tens of thousands of air-miles and hundreds of glasses of champagne) the real woman is now sitting easily on her chair to my right, sipping Dom Perignon Rosé. 

I don’t go first: I wait until almost last before I decide which one is The One. 

Meanwhile, Lady Gaga is deeply introspective, each of her answers laced with a weight – the burden of the creativity that is her obsession. She takes it hugely seriously, and is particularly eloquent when it comes to the topic of her collaborator Tony Bennett, who is in the throes of Alzehimers. Dom Perignon, she says as she takes a sip, exists to celebrate; to create memories – and this hour surely won’t be forgotten.

My turn. 

What do you want to achieve that you haven’t already? 

‘I am actually really interested in living more of a life of solitude,’ her first precious words in response to The One.

Really? Why is that? (Please tell me this doesn’t count as Two and Three.)

‘It’s really nice to have time to be alone and be expansive and know that you’re enough,’ she says, her voice calm, deep, low-key theatrical. ‘I wish I could tell my younger self that. When I was younger I spent a lot of time alone writing music. But the more successful I became, the more I felt like I needed other people to tell me I was great.

‘I love collaborating, but I also really like that time away… being introspective. There’s something about solitude that really speaks to me, and it’s interesting because when I was about 14 years old, I read a book called Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. And I have it tattooed on my arm. I got it in Osaka, Japan, when I was 23.’

She takes her coat off to show off the tattoo– The One has really delivered.

‘In the deepest hour of the night,’ she recites, ‘Ask yourself if you would have to die if you were forbidden to write./ Look deep into your heart where the answer spreads its roots,/ And ask yourself, ‘muss ich schreiben?’ – must I write?

‘If I wasn’t successful in the way that I am today – and I’m very grateful for my success – I’d still be on the Lower East Side [writing].’

The upcoming dinner celebrations 

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

You can’t live without it? (Four!)

‘No, I would do it no matter what. Absolutely 100 per cent. And I know that because I don’t spend a lot of time in Hollywood.’

Really? (Five?)

‘I might look like I do because Awards Season happens and you see me at red carpets and things. I don’t actually go out in Hollywood very much. I’m at home working, because that’s the thing that makes me really happy.’ 

She thanks us all, with sincerity. Then Gaga cosplay girl leaps up to ask for a selfie with her idol, camera already out. ‘It wouldn’t be fair,’ real Gaga declines. And, with that, she’s gone. 

And that is it. Brad returned to whisk me away to the Sheats Goldstein Residence for the final chapter of this wild ride. Designed by John Lautner, and built into the ledge of the hillside, this spectacular house is owned by the legendary/notorious Jimmy Goldstein. (He is a huge NBA donor, a regular on the fashion front row and friends with Beyoncé).

The view from the Sheats Goldstein Residence, taking in a glowing Los Angelino vista

We wind round bends, up and up into the Hills and along Cielo Drive of the Manson Murders. Then golf carts speed us down Jimmy’s palm-lined driveway into an unbelievable reality. The dark, glamorous, addictive heart of Hollywood. A lavish dinner setting has been constructed atop the tennis courts; the panorama is offensively good. Everything glows in Los Angeles. At this party especially: the midnight sky, the twinkling city lights, the swimming pool, the jewels… Alexandra Daddadio’s ocean blue eyes, Billy Porter’s metallic liner. Another miraculous meal is served; another sea of Dom Perignon.

The knockout view from the Sheats-Goldstein Residence, enjoyed by Tatler‘s Features Editor

And then a frenzy ensues. Camera flashes pierce the night: like a mirage, Lady Gaga appears from the melée, microphone in hand, storming towards the top of the table. Moving so fast that no one has time to stop her (and you know they want to).  Now she’s wearing a fierce black cocktail dress.

Lady Gaga swiftly walking through the crowd

She spares 90 seconds to make a speech: ‘I love working with Dom Perignon and Vincent Chaperon,’ she says as he bolts up and waves from the middle of the table and Billy Porter takes a slurp of his broth. ‘Hello my friend,’ she says back to Vincent Chaperon, an extremely warm, kind man who I can tell is thrilled with the name check. The microphone, it turns out, was not for singing. Gaga introduces other performers and disappears. 

Then the party starts. We all make for the nightclub – in the Hills, houses come with nightclubs – and the pace changes. There is a bar stocked only with Dom Perignon Rosé (perhaps the planet’s best bar?), DJ Hana is going for it in the brutalist booth, and I’m at the front of the crowd, dancing. Dancing, dancing, drinking Gaga’s rosé. And suddenly, she’s up there too. DJing with wrecking-ball energy. Headbanging, dark slicks of eyeliner, glass of rosé sloshing as she goes. She plays Money, Honey, from The Fame, that first album that propelled her into the global consciousness. She’s leaning in, full-body, full-throttle, singing along to her hit: ‘It’s good to live expensive, you know it / But my knees get weak, intensive.’ 

Descending into the party

I think I just caught a glimpse of the real Gaga: in her element, making music, not caring about too much else. The atmosphere, suddenly, is electric.

Jimmy Goldstein is next to me. A figure so tiny he looks as if he might snap. He’s wearing his signature leather cowboy hat and a buckled belt, rickety knees wobbling as he taps his foot in front of the decks. There are three very young women in mini dresses seemingly minding him. A journalist friend who recognises him from the front row approaches him. ‘I can’t hear you!’ he persists until she realises it’s Hills for ‘Go Away!’

Gossip and Dom Perignon in the toilets at the glamorous Sheats-Goldstein Residence

Gaga slips away, making a quick, silent exit: the ultimate power play. And shortly after, I head out into the night early. Exhausted, over-indulged. Dom-Perignoned out. Divas and dancing and dark gossip? It’s Hollywood. I have still never received my email, but I think I got the story.