When it comes to drag queen fashion, no designer is more in demand that San Francisco’s Dallas Coulter. From Bianca Del Rio and Kim Chi to Michelle Visage and Peaches Christ, Dallas has become the go-to-gal for many of the world’s most well-known queens (yes – Michelle Visage is a queen, too, honey).
As swamped with new design projects as she is, Dallas took the time to talk with Queerty writer Tim Winfred about her love of fashion and how she became the designer every drag queen is dying to work with.
1. What sparked your interest in fashion?
It goes back to before I can even remember. My grandmother says that when I was little I would ask her to get out the sewing machine instead of the toys. As a club kid in my teen years, there was nowhere to find fun clothes (I’m old, we didn’t have the internet), so I learned to make my own. My love of Thierry Mugler was what inspired me to make it my career.
2. Who was the first drag queen you designed an outfit for?
The first queen I ever designed for was Heather Skye. I was terrified of her but asked if I could make her a gown anyway. It was purple sequined and she performed Annie Lennox’s “No More ‘I Love You’s'” in it. She was and will always be one of my biggest inspirations. Second to that was Pandora Boxx. We lived together for awhile so we’d work on costumes together for her and her dancers.
3. What drag outfits have been your favorite to design?
I have so many I love that it’s hard to narrow it down to a few. One of my favorite people to work with is Raja. She had this jacket in mind and a tapestry that had been hanging on the wall in her apartment. I put my own spin on it and this is what came out:
Willam is another one of my favorite people to collaborate with. She’s really a genius when it comes to style so we tend to make some pretty amazing things together. One of those was a chola gown for her music video Es Una Pasiva:
Every few months I do some of the costumes for Peaches Christ‘s theater shows here in San Francisco. There are a few from those projects that stand out in my mind, such as Bianca Del Rio as Baby Jane, Jinkx Monsoon as Sarah Sanderson in Hocus Pocus, and Sharon Needles, Alaska Thunderfuck, Honey Mahogany, and Peaches Christ in The Craft:
4. What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned working as a drag queen fashion designer?
There are so many aspects to working for drag queens that don’t apply to “regular” fashion design. I’m working for men in dresses. There’s an art to making the male form look feminine. No dress form will work for this and there’s a LOT of math involved. Another big thing is knowing each and every client’s body including their tricks to get it that way. For example, if a queen wears padding, chances are you need to cover pantyhose lines. Every queen is married to a certain bra and you need to make sure the shape of that is covered. You also need to know how they perform. If a queen is known to do death drops but asks for a gown…chances are she’s gonna do one in that gown at some point so I need to prepare any garment I make for what that queen might do in it.
Longevity is also a major factor. I have to make sure everything I make can withstand being shoved in a suitcase, snagged on the edge of a stage, etc. I could go on and on with this one.
5. What advice would you give to young designers?
Don’t limit yourself. Learn as much as you can at every opportunity. Take on every job as a challenge to try something new. We are all still learning, no matter how experienced we are. Communication is the most important thing to focus on in the business aspect of it. If you aren’t sure you can hit a deadline… do not agree to it. You can be the most amazing designer on the planet but if you let your customers down, you not only completely ruin your client’s plans but also make yourself look unprofessional.
Check out some of our favorite outfits created by Dallas Coulter Designs below, and be sure to follow Dallas on Instagram to see what other gorgeous designs she brings to life.