Fashion & Beauty / AnOther List

16 Unforgettable Moments From RuPaul’s Drag Race

In anticipation of the season finale, we asked 16 of the most fabulous names in fashion about their favourite moments from the show’s history

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The sequin-sprinkled phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race hit TV screens in 2009, and during the subsequent eight years of broadcasting – in which we have seen competing queens sashaying away, snatching crowns and performing eye watering on-stage death drops – it has enriched our lives and lexicons with catch phrases such as “the time has come for you to lip sync for your life”, “not today Satan”, and of course, “BACK ROLLS?” (Thank you for the latter, Alyssa Edwards.)

Hosted by supermodel of the world and ultimate glamazon RuPaul Charles, the show follows an America’s Next Top Model meets Project Runway format and is a veritable extravaganza of satire, innuendo, gag-worthy runway looks, and heartfelt moments shared between drag queens competing for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. A clear pivotal moment in pop culture history, the show has used its mainstream popularity as a platform for LGBTQ+ visibility and to set an example for self-acceptance with the famous mantra, “if you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” And as Sharon Needles, the winner of season 4, pointed out in a recent Instagram post, walking into a South Carolina branch of Hooters at midday to the sight of wall-mounted television monitors playing re-runs of the show is a sure indication that “times they are a’changin’”.

Naturally, RuPaul’s Drag Race struck a real chord with the fashion industry, seeing high profile names appear on the judging panel (two of which are included in this article). So ahead of the season nine finale, we spoke with a list of influential figures – from designers and writers to stylists and make-up artists – about their favourite moments from seasons past. Can I get an amen?

Alister Mackie, Creative Director of Another Man

Raven and Jujubee’s Lip Sync to Robyn’s Dancing On My Own

“There have been so many glorious Drag Race moments: Sharon Needles’ triumph over Phi Phi O’Hara; Laganja Estranja’s spectacular meltdown. But this clip has everything: the pathos, the drama, the outfits are truly bizarre. I asked Robyn if she has seen it and she claimed not to have, but the lip sync has made that song an anthem for me. Oh, and not forgetting watching Pearl come to life on set for Dazed with Willy Vanderperre and Peter Philips. All three of us were gagging!”

Bob Mackie, Designer

RuPaul herself

“RuPaul is like a fashion drawing. There are no models on 7th Avenue or in show business that have those amazing proportions. Ru is definitely a Super-Goddess!”

Mel Ottenberg, Stylist

Ginger Minj’s Eggs Song

“I LIVE for RuPaul’s Drag Race. A few things I want to put on record: My number one queen is Alaska. Monica Beverly Hillz is still the best name. Violet Chachki’s first runway with her convertible outfit is without a doubt the fiercest moment ever on the history of the show. She used her cunning uniqueness, nerve AND talent to destroy the runway, made us all scream and press rewind, and you knew in that minute that none of the other queens stood a chance against Violet’s ascendance. How C.U.N.T. is that? Also Ginger Minj singing ‘eggs eggs eggs, all I want is eggs’, which is a new gay anthem. And I LOVED Valentina’s Madonna look, but she behaved so POORLY that I am just not going to talk about her right now.”

Stephen Jones, Milliner

Latrice Royale

“I knew RuPaul a long time ago and I saw her most recently with Susanne Bartsch. What is extraordinary is that RuPaul’s Drag Race has captured the imagination of so many different sorts of people. Mainstream television will never be the same again. My favourite drag queen is Latrice Royale. Latrice Royale for president!”

Nicola Formichetti, Stylist and Artistic Director of Diesel

Alaska’s alien princess eleganza and Jiggly Caliente dressed as a boat

“Oh my god there are so many queens I love. I was so into Kimchi’s anime fantasy look; Miss Fame’s knife look was epic; Raja’s rococo outfit was incredible; Jiggly Caliente’s boat look was so funny. Also Alaska’s future of drag alien princess eleganza!”

Isaac Mizrahi, Designer

Snatch Game

RuPaul's Drag Race has been my favourite show since it launched. Part of me is astonished that it’s only become better over the past nine years and hasn’t, like most other shows on TV, fizzled out. I’m embarrassed to say that Snatch Game is one of the highlights of my year, which I wait for like Christmas.

Anthony Turner, Hair Stylist

Violet Chachki doing anything at all

“My favourite part of RuPaul’s Drag Race is anything involving Violet Chachki. I’m obsessed with her. Literally the most beautiful creature.”

Petros Petrohilos, Make-Up Artist

Valentina

“In series nine, I loved Valentina! She was giving major looks and her makeup was flawless! My best moment was Peppermint’s lip syncing victory dressed as Madonna from the Material Girl video. Absolutely brilliant!”

Richard Malone, Designer

Alyssa Edwards’ Herstory performance

“My ultimate favourite is Alyssa Edwards. She’s genuinely unbelievable. Although every second of her screen time is comedy gold, my number one Alyssa moment has to be on All Stars season Two when she played Annie Oakley in the Herstory performance. It’s probably the best moment in television history. The build up in the dressing room, the wig, that face. I honestly think about how she hasn’t won everyday. It’s something I’m still grieving. Everyone knows she’s the real winner.”

 

Alexander Fury, Chief Fashion Correspondent, T: The New York Times Style Magazine

Sharon Needles’ Post-Apocalyptic Couture

“Sharon Needles’ look from the first episode of season four when she released a huge gobful of fake blood. Elvira was impressed, and so was I. For me, it marked a shift in Drag Race: from pageant queens to something weirder and more uncomfortable.”

Raven Smith, Creative Director

Watching the girls get ready

“I actually LOVE what I call ‘first fix’, when they’re mid make-up and have a blanket foundation. It’s like when it snows but before everyone goes sledging.”

Jack Sunnucks, Writer

Monica Beverly Hillz coming out as transgender (and Ornacia) 

“My favourite moment is the breakdown of Monica Beverly Hillz. Ms Beverly Hillz becomes overcome with emotion on the runway and in a beautiful speech tells Ru ‘I’m not a drag queen I’m trans’. Ru is visibly moved and declares ‘stay strong Monica Beverly Hillz’. This is now one of my mantras. Also: Vivacious entering the workroom wearing Ornacia.”

Lynette Nylander, Writer and Creative Consultant

Roxxxy Andrews’ Double Wig Reveal

“You STILL can't beat Roxxxy revealing the wig underneath her wig whilst lip syncing against Alyssa Edwards to Whip My Hair by Willow Smith. It is my everything and a metaphor in life for always being prepared. Special places in my heart remain for Adore Delano as Anna Nicole Smith and the rare time Ivy Winters was funny and said Coco ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ Montrese’s highlights looked like Tang.”

Charles Jeffrey, Designer

Detox and Jinkx Monsoon’s lip sync to Malambo No. 1

“My favourite lip sync is Detox and Jinkx Monsoon to Malambo No. 1. That song gets me giggling every time I hear it. I just love Detox’s mouth going like a washing machine!”

Steven Phillip, Owner of Rellik Vintage

Willam breaking the rules

“It has to be Willam throwing up in a waist-cincher and getting eliminated after breaking the rules. I love it when she says: ‘I broke the rules but I’m a big boy dressed in big girl’s clothes so regret is a fool’s game. I can’t change anything that I did and there’s no use spending any time dwelling on it. I stood on stage sick with a 24 inch waist and I’m proud of myself.’”

Ted Stansfield, Digital Editor of Another Man

Chi Chi DeVayne and Thorgy Thor’s lip sync to And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going

“Ugh, this is like Sophie’s Choice. But one of my favourite moments from Drag Race has to be Chi Chi DeVayne and Thorgy Thor’s lip sync battle to And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going in season eight. Chi Chi is the underdog but she turns. It. Out. Honestly, I feel like it’s one of the best lip syncs in Drag Race history. Every fibre of her being seems to quake with the sound of Jennifer Holliday’s belting vocals. She even breaks her necklace at one point, sending beads shooting across the stage, and yet somehow this only adds to the power and emotion of her performance. The whole thing sends shivers down my spine – I could watch it on repeat.”

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