This flawless queen.
Photo: Getty Images
Conchita Wurst, who came to international attention after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, made news at Paris Fashion Week by walking in the Jean Paul Gaultier Couture show. Wurst closed out the show, a position usually given to the designer’s favorite or the most famous model. Previous closers have included Dita Von Teese and Beth Ditto. Jean Paul has long been an advocate for so-called “unconventional” models. Early on in his career, he put out a listing in French paper Libération that read: “Nonconformist designer seeks unusual models–the conventionally pretty need not apply.”
Conchita is also the latest in a line of pioneers who are challenging mainstream conceptions of gender. This might be a reflection of fashion’s fickle nature or it could mean that our perception of beauty has broadened; the fashion world is notoriously exclusive, and does not often veer from its rigid strictures of what is stylish, which is why we should not only applaud the casting decision, but also celebrate those who have come before. Below are a few other drag superstars who have made names for themselves.
You better werk.
Photo: M.A.C. Cosmetics’ Facebook
The ’90s ushered in the rise of the supermodel, and in 1992, it got its soundtrack, thanks to RuPaul’s “Supermodel (You Better Work).” Soon after, in 1994, MAC Cosmetics tapped Ru to be the first face of Viva Glam, the line’s campaign to raise awareness and outreach for those in the HIV/AIDS community, making Ru the world’s first drag queen supermodel.
Ru in 2009 and in 1994.
Photo: Getty Images and RuPaul’s ’Drag Race’ Facebook
RuPaul parlayed his worldwide visibility into a drag empire. He has six albums, a successful podcast, a candy bar, and an irreverent reality show where drag queens from all over the globe have a chance to become the world’s next “drag superstar.” RuPaul’s Drag Race has six seasons under its belt, and even has its own spinoff.
Drag Race has given a number of contestants a start in the fashion industry—the most recognizable is probably season-three winner Raja Gemini, also known as Sutan Amrull. Sutan has worked as a makeup artist for Adam Lambert, Dita Von Teese, Iman, Twiggy, Tyra Banks, and more. Sutan’s also worked as the head makeup artist on America’s Next Top Model during cycles four through 12.
’DRAG RACE’ CONTESTANTS FOR MARCO MARCO
In 2013, Marco Marco had former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants walk at his L.A. Fashion Week show. Familiar faces like Shangela, Carmen Carerra, Willam, Detox, Vicky Vox and Adore Delano not only walked, but killed it. Petition to have Drag Race’s contestants walk at least one show per season?
RuPaul has given rise to a number of drag superstars who are getting attention in fashion, both on the runway and backstage. Conchita is the most recent face, but here’s hoping more join him soon—these entertainers deserve a wide-reaching platform and fashion is ready for change.