06 May 2024


Drag, Drama and Denim

a drag queen in a suit with a mask and a hat

We explore a new territory. Where the art of denim meets the art of drag. The scene filled with bravery, extravagance, and experimentation. From playing around with stylistic elements, to discovering a completely new persona within self. Embracing limitless self-expression. Together with costume design studio The Nightmare Disorder, we embrace the dramatics of drag and push denim to new extremes.

Crafting Artistry

Sometimes, drag is dismissed as superficial. When in reality, it is a true form of art. Beyond the glamour, lies an expression of identity and creativity. Through their artistry, drag performers craft personas and challenge conventions. Similar to how we approach denim. With The Nightmare Disorder founders Benji Nijenhuis and Nemo Cheminée, we deep dive into the craftsmanship of it all, creating three unique looks for three unique characters, Shea Couleé, Envy Peru and Hungry. Combining our expertise in denim and their fearless approach to fashion, we redefine the possibilities of drag couture. Exploring the world where optical illusions are blown out of proportion and gravity is defied, we sat down with the minds behind The Nightmare Disorder.
two men standing next to each other one wearing a tie

“We think about what kind of materials and what kind of environment this person is living in. It’s much more about storytelling than simply selling a product.”

a man is sewing a button on a jacket
How did it all start?

“During our studies, the words ‘costume’ and ‘fantasy’ within the fashion scene were seen as theater, and in a way, it was looked down upon. But that's definitely something that we both didn't agree on. We always loved the big couture shows that were happening in the 2000s. Remember Galliano for Dior? Unfortunately, that started fading away and fashion simply became clothing. It was less is more. The industry seemed fearful and turned commercial. Now, it feels like this excessiveness is coming back and we’re here for it. We always try to build characters and then the look around them…we think about what kind of materials and what kind of environment this person is living in. It’s much more about storytelling than simply selling a product.”
a drag queen dressed in a black dress with a large skirt
a drag queen in a dress with a long skirt posing to the side

Why did you decide to start your own label? Was it creative freedom?

“Absolutely, yeah 100%. The freedom to create our own worlds. We only wanted to do projects that we were excited about, and not have to just create a product that makes money. It was also still kind of a research, you know. We wanted to start building those worlds and just see where we end up.”

Can you tell us a bit more about the drag scene?

“Drag queens are all very different. Some are more into fashion; others are more into music. It seems fun and playful, but it’s also serious. What we enjoyed about this collaboration is that G-Star completely trusted our expertise and our vision. We were able to find different individuals, and different queens that fit into the world of G-Star. With these three queens, we got a chance to show various ways of drag. It was very important for us to highlight how unique each queen is.”
a drag queen in a black dress with feathers on her head
a drag queen in a black dress with feathers on her head

How do you start designing an outfit?

“The first step is always to look into what the queens have done before and try to understand their aesthetics. We read interviews where they talk about what they like and what they do. We want to understand their essence before going into our first interview. But we always leave it to them to share their vision and inspiration, and if there’s anything they’ve always wanted to create. We take all of that into consideration, find references and dive into the real visual research. Design-wise, we always begin with a corset. The corset is the core of everything. It's the foundation, essential for supporting the weight of the garments. Each queen's character and preferences guide the rest of our design process, along with our own creative vision. We ended up creating three scenarios with different materials, different silhouettes, and different storytelling aspects.”

“We always begin with a corset. The corset is the core of everything.”

a drag queen in a suit with a mask on her face
a drag queen in a suit with a hat
You gave every design a name. Why?

“We feel like once you give the design a title, it helps with the rest of the process. It provides you with a direction. In a way, it also opens the mind of the person looking at it and adds a bit more depth. We always work very cross-referentially, drawing inspiration from various sources. I feel like the name at the end is what ties everything together. For Envy, for example, we went for the Disco Dreamer concept, drawing a lot of inspiration from the ‘70s disco scene. Think Studio 54, Cher, Paco Rabanne. It was all about the materials, particularly denim and metal.”

Hungry’s outfit is completely different…

“Yes! For Hungry, we wanted to emphasize distortion and the use of denim. We also wanted to blend feminine and masculine, so we focused on the denim jacket as the body, adding three pockets and jeans to create that androgynous look. With Shea, the only note we got from her was: no little top hats. So, we went all out. Inspired by the 2000's couture shows and their sculptural, romantic, and flowy silhouettes. Quite a challenge, due to the weight of denim.”
a drag queen in a denim jacket with a black wig and makeup
For Shea, you’ve also incorporated those classical denim references. It seems like there's a nod to jeans, isn’t there?

“Yeah, we included the knee piece from the G-Star Elwood Jeans to create a sense of denim. We wanted to achieve a couture-like feeling while showing the iconic elements of G-Star. It was about embracing a deconstructed vibe, where each piece is built upon the other. We aimed to blend the aesthetics seamlessly. Like the seemingly falling-off jeans, yet there's also straps and volume. It was difficult to merge these elements into one cohesive design. But it felt like our baby. A perfect fusion of all the right elements.”

Ari Versluis photographed the final looks. He’s known for his project ‘Exactitudes,’ a visual record of over 3,000 distinctive social types. How was it working with him?

“Working with Ari was amazing. Everything felt effortless, and he had a keen eye for detail. He approached the shoot technically, researching denim and focusing on how to capture it authentically. During fittings, he took time to understand our vision and what we loved about the costumes. He truly saw us as designers, and the queens as performers. He not only created technically flawless images, but also managed to capture the humanity and character within them, which resonated well with our designs.”


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