Category is: Drag Queen Realness

After decades of being an underground club movement, drag has reached the mainstream. The relationship between drag and fashion is one that is obvious and cannot be ignored, they’re in many ways more similar than people think. Garment’s Didem Kirca takes a close look at drag culture, to see what fashion can learn from this artform that has changed the world. 

June 18, 2021

Text: Didem Kirca

Illustration: Didem Kirca

Sissy that walk

Nowadays, drag is being celebrated like there’s no tomorrow, and we’re here for it. With the help of Rupaul's Drag Race, drag can now reach millions of people around the world. The show attracts many queens with huge personalities, who are willing to share their art with the world, to become famous overnight. From the glamorous beauty queen to the nerdy queen, they all compete for the title of 'Next Drag Superstar’. And let me tell you, the weekly fashion moments on the main stage are enough to have you coming back for more. It’s just like Fashion week, except for the fact you don’t have to wait a year and can sit front row on…your couch.

 

Speaking of fashion week, there is a huge connection between these queens and designers. For many years, drag queens have always recreated high fashion looks on stage, but now the situation has changed. Designers are using drag queens as a source of inspiration, as a muse or as a campaign model. This resulted in changing people's views on gender and so-called 'male' fashion. With this kind of influence, it’s becoming more and more common for men to walk down the runway for brands like Louis Vuitton, Balmain and Loewe, wearing Party Dresses, wigs, make-up and high heels. All because of drag. 

 

 

'Queer people communicated with each other using clothing and accessories'

Book me in your show

Nightlife, whether it’s club-oriented or performance, is very important to queer communities because they often have no choice but to build their spaces and culture in the night. Not all queer people have the freedom and privilege to express their full queerness during the day. Being truly yourself can sometimes even lead to real danger. Besides, drag queens and kings have day jobs hence drag being a late night activity. Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go, especially within the fashion industry, whether behind the scenes or in the fashion show, the role of queer people is too little. But there’s still hope, trans and non-binary people have walked regularly in shows like Louis Vuitton and Erdem. This is an optimistic mood to gain further visibility. If given the opportunity, many queer people would like to share their talents with a wider audience.

  

Fashion fascinates a lot of queer communities in particular because it’s a very visual medium that interacts with an individual person’s sense of style, ethics and beliefs. There’s a lot you can say with clothes that you can’t say verbally, and queer people weren’t able to express themselves verbally for a long time. So, queer people communicated with each other using clothing and accessories. 

 

However, there are many factors to consider when dressing a queen, and the production of traditional fashion does not consider these factors. It’s important to understand how they structure their drag persona. You also need to consider their performance. If they dance and do a death drop, will the dress rip? Or if they’re only doing a photo shoot, the dress could be more over the top and avant-garde instead of practical. All these factors and considerations create an additional layer to drag fashion, which isn’t often recognized on the runway.

 

'If they dance and do a death drop, will the dress rip?'

Drag has always been the frontrunner

Thanks to the show, queer people that were first used as inspiration on mood boards, are now included in rooms and conversations. Famous drag queens such as Naomi Smalls and Violet Chachki walked the red carpet, went to the Met Gala, and were the main pillars in the front row during Fashion Week. Let’s not forget, RuPaul's Drag Race may have changed the topic around fashion and beauty by incorporating various forms of self-expression into the mainstream, but queerness has always been a part of the industry longer than the show, honey.

 

Drag provides space for diverse genders, sexualities, colours and sizes that don’t exist on traditional fashion shows. It might be great for women who aren’t necessarily suitable for model stereotypes, to look and get inspired by drag queens because they always look fierce and always leave us gagged.

This is a publication from Garment Magazine, made by students from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. You can find The Party Dress issue in stores on the 25th of June! Explore interesting articles and perspectives on topics that shape the fashion industry at our Garment Club Insights.

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