Hello, and welcome to my first illustration and discussion post about Season 8 of RuPaul's Drag Race! Every week, I'll be chatting with interesting people about each episode and sharing depictions of my favorite looks. Given that this first episode focused on the greatest fashion challenges of the past 100 episodes, I sought out Tiger Lily, one of Chicago's most accomplished stylists, to give me ALL of the T.
Chad: So, Tiger Lily, I was curious to hear from someone with your expertise about your take on the new Season 8 queens. First of all, can you explain how you're involved in the Chicago drag scene?
Tiger Lily: I am friends with a lot of the queens in Chicago just personally. I also costume and style a handful of them as well. Before I styled them, though, I was just a fan going to the shows, tipping dollars to performers who happened to also be my friends.
Chad: You've worked quite a bit with Kim Chi, right?
Tiger Lily: Yep, I love love love coming up with looks for Kim! We really understand one another. Like Kim says on the episode, she is like an anime superhero that is also a super model--like ideally, pretty much everything I love.
Chad: Ha! Yeah, Kim was one of the first queens I met in Chicago when I moved here two years ago, and I was instantly smitten. Is it weird to watch a season where you KNOW some of the queens already?
Tiger Lily: Definitely! It was surreal yesterday watching Kim on TV at Roscoes and seeing everyone there rooting for her. Like, to see one of your dear friends living their dreams and being a part of it all... just really couldn't contain my excitement last night! I know myself and all of Chicago has already fallen in love with Kim, and then you see the way she translates to television and she's just goddamn delightful! So kawaii! Like, I can just see all of America falling in love with her.
Chad: Yeah, I've been really excited to see how she's coming across as a character on the show -- both super talented and also VERY lowkey and quirky.
Tiger Lily: I love how Michelle calls her out for being a big ol' dork, because Kim totally is. I love someone who is so stunning that is actually just a peach. Because you'd think they'd be all high-strung and rude. (Acid Betty)
Chad: Absolutely! You worry that the "nice" ones won't make for good television, but Kim had some of the best lines this week! From what you've seen so far, who else would you be excited to work with?
Tiger Lily: I have styled and shot with Naomi Smalls before, and she is definitely beyond a drag queen, that bitch is a M-O-D-E-L! I definitely will be working with her in the future.
Chad: I think she is a complete and utter glamazon.
Tiger Lily: And so goofy!!! I love that.
Chad: But I'm wondering what kind of variety we'll see from her on the runway.
Tiger Lily: I'd also love to work with Thorgy. I feel like our styles would mesh well, and we would turn something out that was very over the top.
Chad: I don't really have the expertise to describe Thorgy's style. The best I can come up with is "Brooklyn Bohemian." Can you better encapsulate Thorgy's particular aesthetic?
Tiger Lily: You know, going through Thorgy's IG, I really can't pinpoint a certain running theme aesthetic, which I really enjoy -- her style actually reminds me of my own personal style. Which is a little vintage-inspired, colorful, definitely some street thrown in there, but above everything -- VERY drag. Her tagline says 'fashion clown,' and I think it's pretty accurate.
Chad: HA! Yeah, I think Thorgy has a personality and style that's VERY hard to pin down, but that makes her really interesting and compelling. She can't easily be pigeonholed as a pageant queen, goth queen, etc.
Tiger Lily: I would love to work with Bob, just because she is hilarious, and I would love to do a dumb/fabulous campy look for her.
Chad: I LOVE her, and I could absolutely see her running away with this competition, but I get the feeling that she's not a very fashion focused queen. It's much more about the comedy for her. If you worked with her, what kind of styling would you want to do with Bob?
Tiger Lily: I would definitely go the more playful route with Bob, because she can definitely pull it off. Like, I have this huge, ridiculous shark costume that I would love to reconstruct into something more 'fashion' and put her in it.
Chad: HA! God, that would be great.
Tiger Lily: Or do something, like, really really haute couture. Like a Dolce & Gabbana-inspired print gown that read a little clownish.
Chad: See, now I just want to climb into your head and see your mind at work!
Chad: Are there any queens who could use some additional help from a good stylist?
Tiger Lily: A LOT of the queens on the season need a good stylist! All T, all shade. Chi Chi.... oh dear.
Chad: You didn't like her trashbag dress or disco outfit?
Tiger Lily: By the grace of god, she pulled it together for the runway, but she was saved by that fabric. I just don't like how unfinished it is, just overall SLOPPY! Like, you are on RUPAUL's Drag Race!
Chad: Ha! But I feel like part of her charm is seeing how much talent she has, despite her limited resources.
Tiger Lily: I mean, that's great and good for her, but I feel like you need to be at a certain level of polish just to be considered for the show. But you know they needed to cast that role--they need that drama for television.
Tiger Lily: I thought the judges read Laila really hard for her look.
Chad: Yeah, agreed.
Tiger Lily: I actually really like that coat she made!!
Chad: I liked the artistry behind that crazy ash and those spikes!
Tiger Lily: You can tell there's some good construction in there. Loved the ash idea and the gradient read really nice on the runway.Yes, the bottom was basic, but she clearly put all the time into that jacket. I thought Derrick Barry should have been lipsyncing, but I think she's too much of a celebrity to embarrass like that in the first episode. Because her look was weak for me.
Chad: I was thinking the touch of comedy with that wreath helped save her.
Tiger Lily: Yeah, it was 'cute' in the way that an elementary school's Christmas pageant is cute ... like awwww this is fucking awful.
Chad: What do you think about Dax? Are you at all interested in her cosplay aesthetic, or not so much?
Tiger Lily: I do think it's so dope that cosplayers are being represented in drag. Because there are some really really cool looks these queens and cosplayers come up with. That being said, I think her point of view is strong, but i think her execution is a little basic! Like, I follow some really extraordinary cosplayers on Instagram, and Dax doesn't even come close.
Chad: I think Dax is gorgeous, and I love how much she's embraced Storm -- as a comics geek, it's tons of fun to see what she comes up with -- but I do agree (somewhat) with your assessment. She's a gorgeous queen, and I'd love to see some avant garde high fashion looks from her -- she could totally pull them off.
Tiger Lily: I do think she's gorgeous. Just a lil' boring for me.
Chad: What did you think about this week's main challenge -- was it fun to see queens re-interpret past runway looks, or was it a hollow rehashing of drag herstory?
Tiger Lily: Oh, I was so excited when I heard this challenge!
Chad: I was excited, but then I was a little underwhelmed with the results.
Tiger Lily: Exactly! Besides Kim, honestly, I don't think anyone really turned it that hard.
Chad: Yeah, there were a lot of perfectly acceptable looks, but few that really gobsmacked me. As someone who actually KNOWS fashion (unlike myself), do you think the judges are often on point with their critiques, or not?
Tiger Lily: I would say, like 4 times out of 5, I agree with them. Sometimes they let people get away with stuff I feel is unforgivable, but I feel like that's editing, too.
Chad: Right, because I've heard the critiques can actually last quite a while! So a lot of their points are probably lost on the cutting room floor.
Tiger Lily: Exactly.
Chad: Whose runways are you most excited to see this season?
Tiger Lily: Naomi I can watch walk all day. I'm excited to see what Robbie Turner comes up with. And actually, Derrick Barry -- if we ever see something that is not Britney.
Chad: Yeah, I'm actually pretty interested to see Derrick's journey this season. I don't know if she'll end up being a particularly inventive queen, but she's supremely talented and engaging.
Tiger Lily: I'm excited to see Acid Betty and Thorgy, too. Curious to see if Acid brings something that isn't completely 80s fashion inspired. Because I've heard all this n' that about how great she is, and like yeah, it's colorful, but somehow always the same.
Chad: Yeah, I agree. It seems limited to the same basic era of fashion. Or something.
Tiger Lily: OBVI, Kim.
Chad: Because she'll be wearing some of your work?
Tiger Lily: I sure hope so!
In fact, you might have already seen Kim wearing an amazing kimono that Tiger Lily made for one of the RPDR premiere parties over the past few weeks!
Tiger Lily also styles for film, television, theatre, and entertainment all over the country. She works with a number of Chicago queens and is Soho House Chicago's go-to stylist! Find her on Twitter and Instagram!