It's All An Illusion

It's about making them feel good and hiding what needs to stay hidden!

I can't believe I loved this episode as much as I did. I think it's the first time I was actually laughing out loud this season, and it wasn't because of token sayings or contrived drama ... just good, clean, drag queen fun! To be honest, I was ready to throw this episode in the "good for TV but irrelevant for fashion designers" category, but I really thought that Tim, the judges, and many of the designers really thought about the impact and reason for the challenge. Like anyone who feels like an outsider (basically everyone who doesn't look like a supermodel), it's about making them, and the people around them, feel good about themselves. It was about putting on a show and infusing as much drama, wit, and attitude into the clothing, while still being dictated by the rules of proportion, fit and style.

I believe RuPaul said it best "Creating an outfit for drag is about creating an illusion, hiding things that want to be hidden, and accentuating the assets that are meant to be shown." (Or something similar - my darn Tivo already deleted it thanks to all of the Olympics coverage grrrrr!).

Man, woman, skinny, fat, tall, short ... it's all about showcasing the best and hiding the rest. So let's keep that in mind when dissecting the designer duds!

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Blayne
I think he and Miss Understood were a match made in drag heaven. I love the color choices, and though they were all Blayne, they also worked great for her as well. I do, however, have issues with the same thing that I ALWAYS have issues with Blayne's designs, and that is the fact that the "wow" element of his designs always appear to be simply stuck on the garment. Without the wings and fringe, we'd be left with a sequin mini-dress, one that Mrs. Klum would surely wear if given the opportunity. I don't see how the "pop" is incorporated into the outfit -- like the diaper element on the first challenge, the arbitrary and overly large collar/sleeve for the second challenge, the cascade of color stuck onto a boring black dress for the third challenge, etc .... I think that Blayne has some fun ideas and a good sense of color, but I wish that his designs were conceived more as a whole unit, and less as elements stuck onto one another.

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Daniel
This dress reminds me of what Jerell designed (in shades of green) for the Bright Lights, Big City challenge ... and I think that his was better. I think that I understand what Daniel was thinking; he is most likely used to working with silks, wools, and other fine fabrications, and to him, a stretch jersey in sherbet orange, yellow, and pink is probably "tacky enough" for a drag queen. Unfortunately, it wasn't, especially when compared to every else's looks. I think that if it had been made out of a stiffer material, such as a taffeta, it would've given him the volume and drama that is needed for this type of look. That being said, I do think that a tube top style is one of the most unflattering shapes for a woman (or man in this instance) who doesn't have much curve to her waist - it's literally making her look like a rectangle and that's never attractive. Design features like an empire waist, sweetheart necklines, seams with angles and curves, peplums, and v-necklines are all ways to create curve (i.e. more femininity), and without even so much as a cinched belt to define her waist she's left looking like a sad little drag queen making her way up to Harlem ... I do know that Daniel however was not meant to design for drag queens, and probably never will again. I wish him only the best of luck in finding his niche within the design community, where his design skills will best be suited. Good luck and great job!

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Jerell
Oh Jerell, Jerell, Jerell. When he's on, he's on, and when he misses, he really misses the mark. I want to give the same critique as I did for Daniel, and as RuPaul has already mentioned, the proportions are giving her absolutely no favors. Aside from the fact that I find the dress itself quite cute and well-made, and the fringe on the bottom and the ridiculous collar arbitrary and ugly, I don't see how it matches with Ms. LeMay's persona. She's a "lover of vintage fabrics" and was giving off a sweet and understated 1960s housewife vibe to me. So aside from being unflattering, I don't feel that this design fits the criteria, do you? Why not something billowy, soft, and romantic, perhaps an uber-glamorous dressing gown taken directly out of the silver screen era of cinema - something that would have made Jean Harlow proud!?

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Instead we're left with a stout, sequined linebacker with nice legs and a collar of lettuce.

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Joe
I couldn't stop laughing at the idea of what his family back home must've been thinking when this challenge rolled across the television screen. Joe's little girls crawling up onto mama's lap to watch dear old dad dress the she-man "Mommy, why does that woman have a beard?"... Priceless! Nevertheless, Joe killed it for this challenge: dramatic, colorful, flattering, and FUN! Drag is all about playing a character and I think it was wise for Joe to take her advice when suggesting the change to a sailor suit, really allowing HER personality to play out and thusly giving the outfit a life of its own. Congratulations, Joe. I can't wait to see what your drinking buddies think of your win!

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Keith
Ouch, this outfit is even more unflattering in the still photograph. I think Keith's downfall was the fact that he didn't seem to have an end goal he was working for; it seemed that the design was completely dictated by the "fringe" and not by a style, or a particular final look. Perhaps if he had made a short, sexy, flapper-style fringe dress it would've merged the styles of him as a designer and his drag queen's - really giving off that Tina Turner vibe he was describing. Instead we're left with a molting (thank you Kors), sad chicken with no shape, and worst of all, no character. I mean c'mon, Chris March introduced the challenge with four-foot-high horns and disco ball boobs!!!

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Kenley
I actually thought that this was an extremely safe path for Kenley to go down. I thought that she has shown some excellent innovation in past challenges, and an uninhibited use of shape and color ... which is why this look is such a dud for me. I know that I should buffer myself before saying this (I guarantee this quote will come back to haunt me someday) but I think that the silver sequins and black/white feathers is boring and isn't going far enough; there is no wit to the costume - no surprise or reveal. I think the whole thing could've been amped up: a higher slit, more fullness, more color, etc. Oh, and I think the main reason I find it so boring is that it's essentially a dress that is selling in every bad "fancy dress shop" up in the Garment District complete with princess seams, a boxy shape, and tacky fabric. I think I'm being particularly hard on Kenley because I think she's good. I think she'll most likely be in the top three showing at the tents, and I think she's better than this. C'mon girl - wow me!!!

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Korto
I love absolutely everything about this: the designer, Sweetie, the outfit, the color, the feeling, and the humor! As Kors said on the runway, Korto gave Sweetie what EVERY woman wants - nice hips and a great rack! Much like Joe's design, Korto's gives her drag queen something to work with, a character to play, and that's what this challenge was all about. If it's fun for them, it's fun for us, and that's what the entertainment world is based on. I think that Joe did a great job, but I think I would've given the win to Korto - she showed true inventiveness. Great job, Korto, and way to step it up and not be afraid!

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Leanne
It appeared that Leanne put a lot of work into this outfit, but unfortunately you can't see a lot of it. Overall, I like the shape and find it to show off her best assets (legs), but I find the collar to be a bit distracting/confusing. Her drag queen first seemed to have a much harder edge than this, so I am tempted to lean towards the side that feels that she just missed the mark on this one, making her a bit too sweet. However, the black color, hard angles, and sharp folds really give the look an aggressive edge, which then makes me think she got it just right. Hmmmm ... well at least she's in for another week - yay!

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Stella
Now this outfit I thought was a miss as well. I think that it was so boring for what Stella could have really done. I do understand that her drag queen was giving off a lady-like, polite vibe, which is probably why she made a long gown, but that hair, face, and necklace are giving me more Amy Winehouse than June Cleaver. Imagine what Stella could've done with that!?!?! Talk about rocker chic on crack! (Well, OK, Amy IS giving her a lot to work with if she went down that path.) I'm just kinda ho-hum about this, especially the front panel that ends so abruptly at her shins; it just looks like she ran out of fabric.

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Suede
Props for producing a perfectly appropriate outfit for a seemingly diva-like client. Chops (or whatever word is negative and rhymes with props) for REproducing an outfit that your seemingly diva-like client came walking in wearing. That being said, if you're trying to understand what I've been saying this entire blog about proportion, style, shape, and fit, take a good hard look at Suede's design. The sweetheart neckline gives the illusion of breasts, the wide-set shoulder pads and peplum jacket give the illusion of a waist much smaller than it really is, and fuller (more feminine) hips that don't really exist. Nice job to Suede for pulling all of the tricks out of the hat and for creating a great look.

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Terri
I think Terri's design really pushed the costume element of this challenge, and really was more about that than about making her drag queen more feminine. I loved the character she created, really honing in the nitty, gritty punk-rock era that was New York in the 80s, and for understanding that doing drag is about putting on a show - about drama - and this outfit certainly had it. Overall, I think this look was both fun and exciting, but made her a bit too androgynous for me, which is why I think that both Joe's and Korto's designs were both more flushed out, and thus, more successful.

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