THE DRESS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni De­tox re­calls the dress that made ev­ery­one sit up and take no­tice. Pho­tographed by Ivanho Har­lim and Shysilia Novita. Styled by Windy Au­lia

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

RuPaul’s Drag Race star, De­tox, shares her most mem­o­rable fash­ion mo­ments

Iwore this dress as my promo look for RuPaul’s Drag Race Sea­son Five—the first time I ap­peared and com­peted on the award-win­ning re­al­ity show. It was de­signed by two Los An­ge­les-based de­sign­ers Ed­die De­barr and Johnny Sakalis, and to­gether they were known as De­bakalis. It was part of their 2012 spring/ sum­mer pre­sen­ta­tion, which was in­spired by a myth­i­cal, alien­mer­maid god­desss that, fun­nily, was also in­spired by me! The de­sign­ers often lov­ingly re­ferred to me as their “fish wife”. This par­tic­u­lar dress was meant to cap­ture the crash­ing waves that en­velop this mys­te­ri­ous siren crea­ture.There were a ton of other dresses I could’ve cho­sen but to me, this was it. Here’s a fun fact:The dress was made from one con­tin­u­ous length of 20 yards of stretch satin, and one seam.

I re­mem­ber my days on Drag Race as be­ing an out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence. It was pretty sur­real. After try­ing so long to get on the show, it was my mo­ment to shine.We shot the pro­mos the day after we wrapped the first episode where I had a pretty good show­ing, so I was def­i­nitely walk­ing around with my head held high. All of the stylists on-set loved my gown, so I was feel­ing su­per-bitchy.The shoot was a lot of fun. It was great be­ing there, but su­per-emo­tional, too. It felt like all my hard work had fi­nally paid off, and the world was fi­nally go­ing to know me and what I stand for.

I’m be­yond proud and hum­bled by my ex­pe­ri­ences on Drag Race. I also learnt that be­ing in such de­mand­ing, pres­sure cooker-like sit­u­a­tions can bring peo­ple closer. I’ve fos­tered some amaz­ing re­la­tion­ships through the show and we bonded be­cause we went through all the chal­lenges to­gether. Maybe that’s why Drag Race has struck a chord with so many peo­ple.There’s no deny­ing the res­o­nance among queer peo­ple. Like, fi­nally! There is a re­al­ity TV pro­gramme show­cas­ing, in my hon­est opin­ion, one of the most cel­e­brated-yet-de­graded forms of self-ex­pres­sion. Peo­ple

love drag queens, but we’re some­times pari­ahs in our own com­mu­ni­ties. It was amaz­ing that there was this out­let show­cas­ing these mul­ti­fac­eted tal­ents. Drag Race hu­man­ised drag queens. What’s not to love?

My time on the se­ries can be summed up with the word, “val­i­dat­ing”. It was val­i­dat­ing be­cause I could show the naysay­ers that I had what it takes to be a drag su­per­star. There was val­i­da­tion from my fam­ily, my peers, my idols and the com­mu­nity. Most im­por­tantly, there was self-val­i­da­tion, too. I learnt that no mat­ter how tough an ex­te­rior you put on, there will be lit­tle in­se­cu­ri­ties and heart­breaks that will al­ways find their way to the light un­til you fo­cus your en­er­gies on heal­ing.

I haven’t worn the dress since the record­ing of the show, and putting it back on again more than five years later re­minds me of how beau­ti­ful I felt in it. I’ve for­got­ten that.The bold use of colour, the flu­id­ity, the high-wattage glam­our, the sense of strength and del­i­cate­ness com­bined… I guess the dress has all the qual­i­ties that rep­re­sent De­tox.

I’m not sure if I have a style phi­los­o­phy, but strong sil­hou­ettes have al­ways been a part of the De­tox aes­thetic.The char­ac­ter has al­ways been a sassy, spunky bitch. I think she was born in my youth. I was ob­sessed with fash­ion shows, heels and glam­our. And film noir! I have a ton of fash­ion mem­o­ries but I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber the 1995 VH1 Fash­ion and Mu­sic Awards: Prince per­form­ing “Pussy Con­trol”. Madonna pre­sent­ing Tom Ford with an award for Gucci. Madonna re­ceiv­ing the fash­ion icon award from Sean Penn with Karl Lager­feld. I need to find [a clip] on YouTube and re­watch it im­me­di­ately. I also love strong, pow­er­ful women. I’ve al­ways been drawn to them. That’s why I’m so in love with vin­tage Thierry Mu­gler. His women re­sem­bled out-of-this-world su­per hero­ines and vil­lai­nesses. I re­mem­ber a 10-year-old me want­ing to be like them when I grow up. And damn it, I did it! ■

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