Our approach to custom suiting here in New York is simple: we aim to provide a design and fit that affirms a client in their identity and projects an image of confidence to the world around them. Authentic self-presentation is the name of the game.
The process is totally different when it comes to collaborating with drag performers. A garment is just as crucial to creating a fully-fledged persona as makeup and stage presence. Expressing the wearer’s true identity is no longer the goal; instead, we must work towards the creation of an illusory character.
Drag as an artistic medium is inherently political; it utilizes exaggerated modes of gendered presentation to subvert socially-constructed concepts of binary masculinity and femininity. We have worked with two drag artists so far: Nicky Doll of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 12, and iconic New York nightlife personality and comedian Murray Hill.
Nicky Doll is the first French drag queen on Rupaul’s Drag Race. As such, every outfit she wears is an homage to French culture. She came to us looking for an outfit that would convey powerful femininity while referencing while referencing iconic fashion designers Jean-Paul Gautier and Karl Lagerfeld.
We had two weeks to deconstruct the classic tuxedo into a double-breasted dress top and flared pant combo, using a graphic corded black and white pinstripe fabric to create the illusion of dramatic vertical length. The outfit is traditionally tailored yet still quintessentially drag; We created an exaggerated hourglass silhouette with black satin details as a visual anchor point; the jutting lapels and oversized flap pockets accentuate her feminine shape by emphasizing her tapered waist. We actually measured Nicky in her drag undergarments (pads and cincher) to obtain the dimensions for the getup, which gave us valuable insight into the oft-ignored trappings of drag illusion.
Murray Hill is technically a drag king, but he maintains his persona offstage. His presentation is less caricatural, sticking closer to realism. Thus, the suits we create for him must convey the melding of his onstage and offstage personas. We use glitzy and eccentric fabrics as a vehicle for his larger than life stage presence. We tailor the suits to give him a more masculine silhouette; he only wears three-piece suits, since a vest helps deemphasize the chest and hips to create a straighter look. At the same time, his suits cannot be skin tight, since this would reduce his mobility on stage and affect his showmanship. Practical considerations must also be taken into account to breathe life into a fully-realized character.
Click below to see The Tailory’s most recent collection of 90s-inspired suiting, Technicolor Subculture.