On the new Netflix series AJ and the Queen, legendary RuPaul plays a larger-than-life version of himself for the digital screen. Co-created by the six-time Emmy award-winning entertainer and Sex and the City legend Michael Patrick King, the show follows Robert (RuPaul) as he goes on an eight week performance tour across America as drag performer Ruby Red. Along the way, a 10-year-old stows away in Ruby’s RV, and (mis)adventure ensues. Following the success of the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, the series mark’s RuPaul’s first starring role in a scripted TV show. Needless to say, some serious costumes were required. Here, CR speaks with longtime RuPaul collaborator Zaldy, who created all of Ruby’s drag costumes (aside from some very special Bob Mackie ensembles); and Dead to Me costume design veteran Trayce Gigi Field, who designed all of Robert’s daytime ensembles as well as outfits for all of the show’s characters.
What were your visions for the costumes on AJ and the Queen?
Field: “The show has a lot of drag looks for sure, but overall it’s a story about everyday life. Zaldy and I read the script, and we figured out what was needed for each scene; its parameters, where it was taking place. For example, if one scene took place completely on a stage, Zaldy could do whatever he wanted, and then if Ru had to run through a field in another, we needed to talk about what fabrics would work for that.”
Zaldy: “Ruby Red is close to RuPaul’s history, but she’s an entirely different character and makes you forget everything you think you know about RuPaul. Ruby definitely has RuPaul glamour, but that glamour is more geared to the needs of a stage performer: Ruby Red is a working drag queen! There are lots of tearaway reveals and looks designed for specific songs. Ruby’s costumes are a lot more gimmicky and humorous than my other work with Ru. We have flashbacks, so some looks have an intentionally DIY quality, like Ruby stayed up all night glue-gunning. Also, Ruby only wears red hair, so everything has to work with this palette.”
Zaldy, how was the process of creating work for a scripted television show different than creating gowns for Ru on Drag Race?
Zaldy: “When I design for Drag Race, I am designing for the muse RuPaul, which is totally different from designing for a character played by RuPaul. You have to get into the character’s head and have to have a developed, fully realized and believable whole character on day one.”
Trayce, how did you want Robert’s non-drag costumes to interact with Ruby Red’s drag costumes?
Field: “In the beginning, I made some illustrations of Robert. I came up with all these ideas and presented them to Ru. We worked out what we thought Robert’s style was—basically he’s a well-dressed man. If he had a business meeting, he was in a suit; I created this hand-painted trench for him to wear if he was traveling. The whole story is that we’re all in drag at some point in our lives. You need to dress up for an event or you need to put a certain look or face or attitude for something you want to achieve, and we wanted to show that through Robert’s clothing.”
How did you create a unique visual voice for Ruby that sets her apart from other drag queens?
Zaldy: “Ruby is the ruling, legendary queen so she had to have that something extra to set her apart which, comes across in the rich fabrications and techniques we used to create her looks…we don’t know how Ruby can afford these costumes, but we suspend our disbelief like we did with Carrie’s closet from Sex and the City! Ru naturally brings the inner power and respect that both Ruby and RuPaul have and that really takes the character to the next level. “
Field: “I wanted to make sure the other queens weren’t in the same color, first and foremost. Most drag queens have their own looks, and we based our looks on whatever drag queen that is. Either I helped dictate the look of what they’re wearing or I provided the look for them. It’s usually a completely different direction to what Ruby Red does because let’s face it, RuPaul is RuPaul. He’s Mama Ru, and no one can really compete with what he’s doing.”
What role do you think good costume design can play in storytelling?
Field: “I really do feel the role of costume design plays such a big part in your intel into who the characters are. Sometimes it’s an instant read, sometimes it’s a slow build, and sometimes it’s about the color that you use.”
Zaldy: “Good costume design can really create the lasting image you have of a specific moment from a show or film. It says so much about character without saying a word and helps the audience believe in who the character is. Costumes are a careful balance of wanting to be noticed and yet fading into the background so the character can come through.”END
prev link: https://www.crfashionbook.com/culture/a30503047/aj-and-the-queen-rupaul-costumes/
createdAt:Mon, 13 Jan 2020 19:40:11 +0000
displayType:Long Form Article