Brad Goreski on the Intersection of Drag and Red-Carpet Styling: "It's One and the Same"
The celebrity stylist opens up to The Hollywood Reporter about working with drag queens on his new World of Wonder series, 'Iconic' — and reveals what they can teach women about fashion.
When Brad Goreski got the offer to host World of Wonder's new fashion series, Iconic, he didn’t think twice before saying, "Yas, queen!"
The celebrity stylist and former Fashion Police co-host, who's long been a fan of RuPaul's Drag Race, tells The Hollywood Reporter that his latest gig is a "dream come true." Each episode of Iconic sees Goreski taking viewers on a style journey with notable alums of the Emmy-winning reality show, including Violet Chachki, Eureka O'Hara, Detox and Mariah Balenciaga, among others.
"I wanted to blend my love of Drag Race and drag, my appreciation for the art form, and the fashion and the creativity involved. I really wanted to take a fun, but also deeper, look into each individual queen's style," says Goreski. "It's really a great opportunity for all of us to learn more about fashion."
While digging through each queen's wardrobe, Goreski quizzes them on their sartorial choices, figuring out the details — and "insanely chic influences" — behind some of their most gag-worthy looks. Throughout this process, the Born to Be Brad author has discovered that there is hardly a difference between preparing for RuPaul's runway and helping a client get ready to hit the red carpet.
"Between the glam time, the fittings, the inspiration and the reveal, it truly is so similar," notes Goreski, who's dressed everyone from Demi Moore to Lea Michele. "Obviously, the ultimate reveal for Drag Race contestants is the final runway look. And for my clients, it's watching that transformation and then zipping them into their gown and seeing them off to the Oscars. It's kind of the same thing when I'm helping the queens zip into their gowns on Iconic."
The TV personality adds: "I'm gagging either way. I can gag over a red-carpet look or I can gag over a drag look. It's one and the same!"
Below, Goreski — who is set to host a live taping of Iconic alongside Drag Race season 10 finalist Asia O'Hara at RuPaul's DragCon in New York on Saturday — tells THR more about his love for drag, reveals what women can learn about fashion from the queens and shares his predictions for awards season style.
Which drag queen were you most excited to work with on Iconic?
There are so many. Violet Chachki, I've been a huge fan of since season seven, so I was really happy that she made the time to do it. Also, we filmed with Eureka O'Hara and it was really fun to get to film with her. She's such an incredible, big personality. Also, her fashions are beyond. I was so obsessed with everything that she showed me.
What were you surprised to learn about how drag queens prepare their looks?
Their insanely chic influences. Some of them get inspiration from Dior! But I was so amazed with the whole crazy glue of it all. They glue everything — even jewelry! They glue earrings onto their ears. There were moments where I was like, "What are you doing?" And they were like, "Girl, I'm putting on my earrings!" With crazy glue, though?! It's so normal for them. I'm just like, "Doesn't that hurt?"
I obviously knew about nail glue, but actually attaching a gigantic earring to your ear with crazy glue was new to me. We don't do that in red-carpet styling. (Laughs.)
In your opinion, what is the key to a flawless drag aesthetic?
I love the silhouette. When you can fool me into believing your body looks a certain way, I'm all in. Violet Chachki is on the extreme of that because the corsetry is so much a part of her drag and of her personality. But then someone like Detox pulls from current fashion as well. It's great when they can infuse current trends into their looks without straying away from what makes them individual.
What can women learn about fashion from drag queens?
How to be fearless. Drag queens have a fearless approach to fashion and, most times, they're willing to try anything on that excites them. They follow their intuition and I like that. Another thing, too, is their way of embracing their best features. It's important to always feature the things about yourself that you feel most confident about. Forget the things that you're insecure about! If you know what you're working with, then you can highlight those parts and start from a place of positivity.
All of the queens do that. For example, Eureka O'Hara totally embraces her size. That's her platform and she uses that to empower other women. That is a very strong place to come from, to really embrace who you are and let those qualities shine.
How has drag culture penetrated the fashion world?
You see the slogans are all over T-shirts: "hunty," "werk," "slay" and, of course, "yas, queen," among so many others. It’s everywhere. In the fashion world, we use those sayings in fittings all the time. Part of the reason why Iconic became the name of my show is because I felt like everybody in the LGBTQ community was saying that things were "iconic." Like, "Have you tried the burger here? It's iconic." Oh my God, now burgers are iconic?
I just thought that it would be funny to actually use that as the name, but I'm also actually talking about what makes fashion, drag and these queens iconic in their own right. The culture is blending all over the place.
How does your prep time with clients compare to your time spent with the drag queens on the set of Iconic?
I always try to create a fun, positive environment. I want my clients to feel great when they're with me in the fitting and I want them to feel even better when I'm helping them into their cars to go to the Emmys or the Oscars. I got into this business because it is the ultimate game of dress-up. That same vibe was also definitely there while working with all the queens on Iconic.
Which one of your clients was most excited about you hosting the show?
Sarah Hyland! Most of my clients are obsessed with Drag Race, but Sarah is a superfan. We're always talking about it. All we talk about is Drag Race and Real Housewives. Literally. So she was pumped.
You dressed several stars for the Emmys. What are your style predictions for the rest of this year's awards season?
We're seeing a lot of color, which I love. It's also extremely press-friendly. People want to see color. I've also noticed a return to opulence. There's a lot of beading and layers. I think celebs are really going to serve us this year. A lot of great fashion is about to happen. People aren’t playing it safe this year, which is great. The designers have also been serving up some really incredible gowns. But I also predict there will be a mixture. In addition to gowns, I expect more tea-length dresses and even some suiting and jumpsuits.
What designers are you impressed with at the moment?
I'm always a big fan of Dior. And Carolina Herrera, I think Wes Gordon is doing an amazing job over there. Obviously, Oscar de la Renta. They're always giving me moments. Calvin Klein by Appointment, they have their squad of women that they dress and it's always interesting and fun to see what they turn out.
As Fashion Month winds down, what are your tips and tricks for surviving those stressful several weeks?
Don't overdo it. You don't have to go to every show and every single party. That's No. 1. No. 2: Stay hydrated. No. 3: Get sleep. Those are the big ones. Also, bring little snacks. I always get low blood sugar. You're going from place to place to place, so you want to stay fueled. By 3 p.m., you're unraveling at the Zac Posen show and you don't know what's happening to you. You need stamina. You know who has the best stamina? Drag queens.
Iconic is available to stream on WOW Presents Plus.