As the fashion industry continues to expand its diversity spectrum, the opportunities for models of different races, culture, and abilities increase from season to season and it's about damn time! There's one part of popular culture that had remained just outside the view of mainstream fashion — drag. Sure, everybody knows mother RuPaul and the fanbase — nay, cult — that RuPaul's Drag Race have spawned. The genius reality television show introduced the wonderful world of drag to the mainstream, but even as fashion and beauty played such an important role in its popularity, its main players remained part of a niche community. But not any longer. Today, season seven winner Violet Chachki became the first drag queen to front a lingerie campaign.
Starring in the latest lookbook from Playful Promises, one of the first lingerie brands to embrace the idea that undergarments are for everyone, Chachki got to channel the personality who played a major role in crafting her drag character: Bettie Page. For her, it wasn't just a milestone for the lingerie world, but for the Drag community, too. Though Chachki is no stranger to the runway or mainstream — in character or out — she considers it a step in the right direction for both industries.
Even though the success of Chachki's latest modeling job is a coup for the industry, she maintains that it's up to them to continue to provide opportunities for diversity if change is indeed on the agenda. "It depends on the brand or designer, really, and what their personal beliefs are on these things. But the fashion industry, especially in New York, is very much so an industry. I feel like queens play a role in the creative aspect, but now, we're also selling products because of social media and Drag Race," she tells Refinery29. Chachki means, of course, that despite the relevance drag culture has in the industry — especially right now — a queen's spot is never guaranteed.
Chachki understands that she's occupying a unique place in the industry right now. "It's interesting to see where we fit in. And within the drag world, there's also its own fashion industry of its own — drag designers and the fashion subculture within a subculture. I don't know how much more it'll continue. It definitely is a risk to include any gender-nonconforming person in a campaign, a show, or whatever it may be. [Because] it has to be on-brand for them. But there are so many brands out there I know that would never touch drag."
On whether or not drag culture can ever fully assimilate into the mainstream fashion industry, Chachki explains that there is a level of fantasy inherent to drag that is not necessarily a part of fashion. Like with their use of make up, for example. "I think barefaced, minimal makeup happens mostly on editorial shoots," Chachki explains, "and I've taken a swing at minimal makeup here and there, but I think a lot of what drag celebrates is the opposite of that. We have a lot of cisgendered female fans and I think the inauthenticity and the hyper-femininity is part of why it's so celebrated."
She continues, "I think people like that it's too much makeup, it's over the top — and I think that's what's so great about drag and what draws people to it."
Us, too. Check out some snapshots from the campaign ahead and head over to Playful Promises to shop the debut of their latest vintage-inspired collection. Chachki's feat may be one step forward for the fashion community, but one giant leap — in heels — for Drag.
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