“RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants serve high fashion every season, and the caliber of their fashion presentations only increases by the season. The queens transform like we’ve never seen them before, and they come prepared with looks that have reveals, sociopolitical messages, and everything in-between that leave fans the world over shook.
Season 13 of “Drag Race” may have only just recently ended, but we must pay tribute to it before we dive into the series’ past catalogue of looks. Contestants like Symone, Gottmik, and Utica Queen never stopped bringing high fashion moments to the main stage. In fact, in Entertainment Weekly’s ranking of every runway outfit from Season 13, Symone held three of the top five spots with her train, fascinating fascinator, and bead it looks. The other two looks in Entertainment Weekly’s top five go to Gottmik’s lamé look and Kahmora Hall’s train look. We also want to recognize Utica’s beast couture and little black dress looks because we found them particularly quirky and fun yet fashionable.
These queens were inspired by traditional runway fashion
Some of the hit series’ best looks have been inspired by actual designer fashion pieces. Dazed recounts some of these iconic looks, from Raja’s Season 3 Vivienne Westwood homage to Gigi Goode’s Dior New Look reference in Season 12 and Gia Gunn’s hula hoop bag inspired by Chanel in Season 6.
Raja proved to be a formidable opponent in Season 3 because her looks were inspired, beautiful, and even witty at times — a triple threat in a competition series that requires such. She melded Vivienne Westwood and Marie Antoinette for a look that will stick with you forever. Gigi Goode accomplished the same thing throughout her entire season. Each new look presented by Goode topped the last one. And then there’s Gia Gunn who entered the workroom for the first time with her hula hoop bag. It wasn’t even for the runway! Gia set out to prove from the very beginning that she didn’t come to play.
These queens were inspired by pop culture and their own wit
Sometimes the queens don’t need to be inspired by traditional runway fashion to present iconic looks on “Drag Race.” Some queens get inspired by pop culture, and some simply take the weekly theme and think outside the box to create something truly magical. i-D recounts some of these looks, including Naomi Smalls’ homage to Prince in “All Stars 4” and Bimini Bon Boulash’s Preherstoric look in “Drag Race U.K.” Season 2.
Naomi Smalls completely captured the essence of Prince in her look while making it modern and totally herself. If you have Naomi’s legs, you’d want to show them off every chance you get too! Naomi’s wig was perfect and helped her silhouette in a really nice way, and her makeup had never looked better either. On the other side of the pond, Bimini went for the amoeba/bacteria route for the Preherstoric runway category instead of dressing like a caveman or a dinosaur, and gee did it just work. Everything from her hair to her makeup and the garment itself was divine, and Bimini proved yet again that she came back from Season 2’s COVID-19 break ready to win the crown.
These queens are quintessential fashion icons from the series
We can’t talk fashion on “Drag Race” without mentioning queens such as Violet Chachki, Kim Chi, Aquaria, and Trinity the Tuck. Violet Chachki pushed boundaries with runway appearances such as her death becomes her and leather and lace looks (via Screen Rant). She used props, such as an oxygen tank, in ways fans hadn’t seen before, and she also shrunk her waist in ways no one had seen before.
Kim Chi is a look queen through and through, and it showed on her season. Her makeup was always flawless, and her garments were beautiful as well. The first Kim Chi look from the series that comes to mind is her hanbok look that she wore in honor of her mother. It was beautiful, and the story she told was impactful. She showed that you can blend fashion and sentimentality in really powerful ways.
Trinity the Tuck and Aquaria also always brought their best to the runway. Trinity was good on Season 9 and she was even better on “All Stars 4.” Her curves and swerves look alongside her All Stars eleganza look show that Trinity is more than just a performer; she can take fashion there. Screen Rant also notes that Aquaria slayed the runway every single week, with virtually any look being able to make a list like this. However, they do note that her genderbent magician look and all three of her looks from the annual ball challenge are peak Aquaria.
Overall, “Drag Race” has spawned too much excellent fashion to condense into one list, so don’t forget to check out the series and the queens’ Instagram pages, as they often post their looks there as well.
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