Drag dates to theatrical origins when male actors would dress as female characters, and now the art of drag has advanced to mainstream media. Shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race prepare a platform for drag artists to display their own fashion, talent, and craft. With a viewership of over 1.3 million, Drag Race has been deemed an essential part of LGBTQ+ culture and representation. Drag is inclusive, which makes it a comfortable and safe environment for all genders/non-genders and sexualities.
"Whilst the world is changing, and moving forward, we still need representation more than ever in the mainstream media." - Cheryl Hole (Drage Race UK - Season 1)
With the birth of Drag Race in 2009, the professional drag scene has completely high fashion-ized the art of drag – conceptualising their own ideas or executing custom garments on the runway. The expectations of quality and production have soared with the rise in the iconic 'fashion queens' on the Drag Race runway. Here are the top 5 cult favourite 'Ru Girls' for fashion:
Bimini Bon Boulash
First up, Bimini – runner up and Miss Congeniality of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2 and model represented by NEXT Models. The non-binary queen is known for iconic 'couture-inspired' looks, channelling Iris Van Herpen, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood inspired looks down the runway. Bimini stormed London Fashion Week as they appeared to walk for the Richard Quinn SS22 show. With the progression of their own career as a non-binary queen, Bimini hopes to break down all the stereotypes and shift gender norms.
Next, we have Makeup Artist, IMG model and winner of Drag Race Season 10 – Aquaria. Aquaria rose to fame with her stunning runway and makeup looks on the show, some even designed by herself. From RuPaul’s Drag Race to modelling for Moschino and being one of the first drag queens to be invited to the Met Gala.
“We do the same thing for those girls as the supermodels did back in the day…The difference is that we give a more diverse view of empowerment, especially compared to 50 years ago.” - Aquaria, V Magazine
Miss Fame is a model, makeup artist and iconic contestant on Drag Race Season 7. Although her time was short on the show, she had left a lasting impression with ultra-glamorous high fashion looks and stunning makeup looks (training under Pat McGrath). Her impressive looks landed collaborations with Prada, Versace, Mugler, and Tommy Hilfiger. As well as features within Vogue, V Magazine, and ELLE. Fame's high glamour and classic sense of style will never perish in the fashion industry.
Raja is one of the earliest fashion girls to feature on the show – winning Season 3 (the only Asian-American winner so far) with her high fashion runways. Her experimentation and style dazzled the judges as one of the first contestants to explore the couture-eque looks. Raja has been considered drag royalty in the community and co-hosts Fashion Photo Ruview where she rates the fashion on the current Drag Race season. Her style is glamourous, fun and eccentric, which is what drives her fashion-forward thinking.
Violet’s shapely pin-up burlesque style captured the hearts of the judges and viewers, winning season 7. She has the most unforgettable stages in the history of the show – including gagging the judges with her 'Death Becomes Her' tiny corset waist look. Violet displays a slightly modern twist on the burlesque concept, whilst staying true to its main traits. By winning and gaining fame, Violet Chachki performed beside “Queen of Burlesque”, Dita von Teese, in her 2017 burlesque show, The Art of Teese.
In 2018 she walked the runway for the Fall Moschino collection during Milan Fashion Week, as well as a model for Bettie Page Lingerie. Since then, Chachki has attended the Met Gala, featured in Vogue and collaborated with endless luxury brands. With her early collaborations within high fashion, Violet has helped change the landscape of queer culture within fashion for the better. Brands are becoming more open to working with drag artists and those that don’t look like biological women or a specific gender.
The Future of Drag?
With luxury brands tapping into the use of drag stars, the future of the art of drag is bright. The conventional ideals of models and luxury brand influencers have changed – no one needs to look like a biological woman to express fashion and beauty. This shift within fashion has created amazing opportunities for current and future drag icons. With drag icons starting to become the face of fashion brands, the future seems bright.
Future drag artists and the queer community have icons with unique styles to take inspiration from - there is nothing more iconic in fashion than individuality!