“I started as an inexperienced drag queen with awful makeup serving daiquiris to obnoxious bachelorette parties,” says Violet Chachki with a laugh. “Now, I work with legends and am starring in one of the most progressive beauty campaigns. Anything is possible.”
Let it be known that Chachki has officially added yet another feather to her boa: Pat McGrath muse. Starring in the visionary makeup artist’s new Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection foundation campaign, the 27-year-old drag superstar and burlesque performer pouts, smizes, and strikes a pose alongside fellow boundary-pushing stars Sonjdra Deluxe, Damian Hurley, Zhengyang Zhang, Shanelle Nyasiase, Blesnya Minher, and Primrose Archer.
“Whenever I get the opportunity to work with anyone who has influenced me and my work as much as someone like Pat, it always feels a bit surreal—like how exactly did I get to this point? I have to pinch myself!” explains Chachki, reflecting on her extraordinary trajectory from aspiring drag queen in her native Atlanta to winner of season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, to Met Gala attendee and Paris Couture Week fixture. “I’m extremely grateful to be included in such a powerful project.” But trust that “Mother”—as McGrath is known in the industry—is much obliged.
“Violet is a fabulously disruptive style icon who’s distorting the gender binary,” says McGrath of casting Chachki in the fierce, inclusivity-driven campaign lensed by McGrath’s longtime collaborator Steven Meisel. “Violet embodies the epitome of vixenish vintage?glamour with her velvety skin and beguiling burlesque aesthetic.” Here, Chachki talks about how she cultivated her “high drag” aesthetic, how more inclusivity is helping the beauty world flourish, and what audiences can expect from her forthcoming solo tour.
On starring in Pat McGrath’s latest campaign
It’s really a full-circle moment for me! I had Pat and Steven’s work plastered all over my childhood bedroom, ripped from magazines I would steal from Barnes & Noble. Their work has influenced me and my work so much that now it’s a fantasy coming to fruition. Shooting the campaign was like a real-life version of the music video for RuPaul’s “Supermodel”—lights, and about 10 people swarming me making sure I looked perfect. I’ve never felt more like an actual model.
On her obsession with Pat McGrath
I really became obsessed with Pat when Galliano was still with Dior, and it was all about fantasy. The beauty looks she created at Dior will forever be a wealth of inspiration for me. They were a turning point for my creativity and my first step into high drag. I love that Pat uses social media to show exactly how her products are used in a fashion context. Her work is unparalleled, and she’s disrupted the beauty space in unimaginable ways.
On how she fell in love with makeup
It started similarly to so many before me—I would play with my mom’s and my sister’s makeup when I was home alone. I vividly remember hearing the car pull into the driveway and looking into the mirror on my mom’s vanity with a face full of makeup and the counter below me a mess; it sent me into complete panic mode. From there, I would steal bits of makeup where I could to start my own little collection and play in my bedroom with the door locked. Then during high school I started wearing foundation and eyeliner out. It just snowballed into full-on drag queen, and now it’s refined into what you see today. For me, makeup will always be about glamour, fantasy, and escapism!
On the industry shift towards more inclusivity
It’s the dawn of a new era. People always want to talk about the models, and yes that’s important visually, but I think who we give positions of power to—editors, contributors, creative directors, designers, etc.—is just as, if not more, important. It’s exciting to see these roles behind the scenes be diversified because these are the people who have something to say.
On her new solo tour
This has been a dream of mine for a long time! My solo show, “A Lot More Me,” is part drag show, part burlesque show, part circus show, and part fashion show. It’s going to be high drag, high camp, and high glamour. I want people to come and escape into my fantasy world for an evening!