Madonna talks about Steven Meisel, the photographer who has most"transformed" her in photographs, in the May 2009 US Vogue:
To hear Madonna talk about working with Meisel is like being let in on a long-held secret. She goes on, "Steven had a vision. He had done his research. He had very specific references. I really respected the care that he took with his work, how seriously he approached it, but at the same time he has a great sense of irony. He made me feel like I was part of something important. He treated each photo shoot like it was a small film and insisted that we create a character each time we worked but then would make fun of the archetypes we created. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of reinvention."
Being the, errr, Madonnalogist that I am, I would argue that his reinvention/be-someone-other-than-yourself aesthetic crept into her own music. That's been the key to her success year after year: whether you like a particular incarnation or not, it is never boring.
And remember when the comparisons to Madonna are flying around a certain new diva, that bitch doesn't have 1/3 the beauty of Madonna. Just sayin'...
Design Scene did a post on this on Monday that got over 40 entertaining comments.