When most people suffer from a serious hip ailment, they ring their insurance provider to request a standard-issue wheelchair or pair of crutches. But not Lady Gaga. The pop star, who recently received surgery for an inflammatory joint infection in her hip called synovitis (which forced her to cancel the remainder of her Born This Way tour), commissioned a 24-karat-gold-plated wheelchair to wheel around in style.
Her stylist contacted jewelry designer Ken Borochov, of the label Mordekai, to design the chair with only a week's notice. “It was a huge undertaking,” Borochov told The Daily Beast of Gaga’s commission. He created the chair using manufacturers around the country, finishing the gold and tufted leather masterpiece (complete with a removable canopy) only on Sunday evening. “It was made all over the United States. My assistant had to run around everywhere,” Borochov explained. “I make all of my things here in the US.” In fact 1.5 ounces of gold were plated onto the chair “in Dallas at a customizing car factory that does hot rods and stuff. I wanted [the wheelchair] to look like a throne.” (In fact, the designer's publicist says, the wheelchair was gold-plated in Dallas but actually assembled in Madison, Wisconsin, at Regal Roadsters.)
The 30-year-old Israeli-born fashion designer started his luxury jewelry brand only two years ago in New York, but it has quickly picked up steam. Borochov's first celebrity endorsements came from Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, followed by Gaga. But despite his multiple custom designs for Gaga, Borochov has never met her in the flesh. “When the time is right,” he explained.
Borochov wouldn’t disclose how much Gaga paid for her highfalutin mode of transportation—and he doesn’t even know when or if she’ll actually use it (aside from posing in it for a round of Terry Richardson–shot photos). According to current exchange rates, the chair’s gold weight clocks in at nearly $2,600 on its own. But for all its worth, the vessel doesn’t utilize modern wheelchair technologies, like electrically powered navigation. Borochov still thinks the chair is pretty functional, considering its fashion quotient. “I think it’s supposed to be for the function,” he explained. “But the most important thing was supposed to make something extraordinary that is fit for a queen, which Gaga is.”