After working the Met Gala pink carpet, the Drag Race Season 10 winner emerges as the contoured face of fashion.
Her reign as the incumbent RuPaul’s Drag Race winner may have ended last month, but Season 10 champion Aquaria’s time in the spotlight is far from over. Born Giovanni Palandrani, the 23-year-old queen has made the most of post-Drag Race fame, touring the world, releasing a song and even spawning her own catchphrase, “turning looks, stunting pretty.”
“It’s certainly the age of Aquaria,” the drag star tells us the week following her headlining slot at DragCon Los Angeles, yet another accolade for her growing mantle. Though no longer in possession of her crown and scepter, Aquaria has become a fashion icon in her own right. Modeling for Moschino? Check. Releasing her own line of cosmetics? Check. Officially becoming the first drag queen to walk the carpet at the Met Gala? Check. Check. Check.
“I was on tour in Europe with the Werq the World tour when I found out that Vogue was interested in having me at the Met Gala,” Aquaria says. “The theme was ‘camp,’ so everyone was trying to round together some drag queens.” Given that drag queens are camp idols by nature, that age old question—what to wear?—took on special import. Luckily for Aquaria, she has plenty of friends in high-fashion places.
Giving new meaning to “supermodel of the world,” Aquaria has worked with the most bold-faced names in fashion, like friend and frequent collaborator Jeremy Scott, as well as with emerging designers like Project Runway contestant Garo Sparo, who designed her metallic DragCon suit. Nicola Formichetti recently escorted her to the opening of the Haus of Gaga exhibit and she counts Hana Quist as a frequent collaborator. “Hana is doing big things now,” Aquaria says. “She helped with Cardi B’s Thom Browne Met Gala dress.”
In the end, Aquaria rocked a black shredded look by John Galliano for Maison Margiela, complete with jeweled headpiece and claws. “That was very surreal for me,” Aquaria says. “Everyone at the house of Margiela was very welcoming, and John [Galliano] made me feel very comfortable.”
While she is humbled by the distinction of being the first drag queen to walk the world’s most exclusive pink carpet, she quickly points out that she was not the only one. Aquaria was followed closely by two fellow drag fashion trailblazers—Violet Chachki, winner of Drag Race Season 7, and RuPaul, queen of… well, everything.
As Aquaria recalls, she Violet approached RuPaul once inside the venue, completing the trifecta of camp. “We met his husband, who was lovely,” Aquaria says. “I just wanted to thank RuPaul again for giving me the opportunity.”
If the Met Gala’s camp theme was any indication, the relationship between fashion and drag has become more salient in 2019. No longer a wink and a nod, that relationship comprises a complete feedback loop, in which Aquaria is arguably the nexus. “I’m certainly at the right place and the right time when it comes to finding success in drag and in fashion. In my mind, the way girls looked up to supermodels back in the nineties, I feel is the same type of energy that the drag queens are receiving now,” she says.
The audience at DragCon, for example, was 60 percent female and 55 percent under 30. “We do the same thing for those girls as the supermodels did back in the day,” Aquaria says. “The difference is that we give a more diverse view of empowerment, especially compared to 50 years ago.”
What’s next in the age of Aquaria? In just a year, she has built up enough influence in the fashion world – or “notoriety” as she calls it – that she is already preparing for the next big Fashion Month in September. “Drag and fashion go hand-in-hand. They always have and they always will,” Aquaria said before quickly clarifying: “Well… for most drag queens.”