WHEN the question arises of what to do with a special dress after its first outing, most head for the dry cleaners and buy a plastic sleeve to keep the dust off. Few people think of turning their frock into a pub snack. But then few people own a garment fashioned entirely from an unusual Argentinian cut of steak.
The designer of the now-infamous "meat dress" worn by the pop star Lady Gaga at the MTV Music Video Awards earlier this month to howls of outrage from animal rights campaigners revealed yesterday that he is turning the gruesome gown into beef jerky, in an attempt to preserve it.
Franc Fernandez, who appropriately made the dress from an Argentinian cut of beef skirt called matambre, has passed up the opportunity to serve his creation with chips, to ensure its place in posterity with a drying process thought to have been first perfected by native Americans.
Mr Fernandez said: "The dress will go through a process where it becomes a sort of jerky and will be archived. The meat dries out, rather than rotting. It becomes jerky. But it shouldn't be worn again."
The designer, who has also said he thought the garment would be "more beautiful if it's naturally aged", spent a week in his Los Angeles studio stitching together the pieces of steak on a mannequin, returning his carnivorous couture to the fridge every night until it was complete.
He said: "Gaga herself said it smelled good, because it smelled like meat."
Lady Gaga, whose previous showstopping outfits have included dresses adorned with pictures of Kermit the Frog and another fashioned entirely from plastic bubbles, drew criticism for her choice of attire at the awards ceremony.
The pop star, who this week ventured into politics by seeking the repeal of the American "don't ask, don't tell" legislation that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, insisted the dress had not been intended to offend vegetarians.
Speaking on Monday, she instead suggested the garment had been a metaphor for gay rights: "Equality is the prime rib of America, but because I'm gay, I don't get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat my country has to offer."