Sure there’s eleganza extravaganza, but for drag queen and designer Mindy L’Amour, it’s all about over-the-top opulence. From cocktail dresses to ball gowns, lingerie sets and now shoes, queens of any age or experience can easily get into the gig.
I sat down with Mindy, who, lucky for me, is also my drag sister (I borrow EVERYTHING), to talk about performing, clothes, and what’s ahead for this fierce fashionista.
So Mindy, how long have you been doing drag?
I’ve been doing drag for about four to five years — that’s when I first started to get into drag and go out. I’ve been performing for two-and-a-half years.
What made you interested in doing drag?
It all started when I was hired to design for my drag mother, Billy L’Amour, during a Pride festival in Montreal. That was my introduction to drag.
Is she the one who first threw a wig on you and put you in a dress?
Actually, the first person who got me into drag was my business partner Matthew, on Halloween. He thought it’d be fun if I dressed up as Pocahontas. That’s how it all started.
That’s only mildly offensive.
Well, I’m brown! Who cares!
So Montreal is where you started doing drag?
Yes, but just as a look queen — I wanted to make fantasy clothes for myself that clients didn’t want to wear, and I think that’s how my career started. There were a lot of things I wanted to create but nobody wanted to buy them or wear them, so I just wore them myself.
I was hesitant to perform at first because I’ve never considered myself a performer — I’ve always been a backstage person. But I decided in order to be a good drag queen you have to perform. So I just started to perform and have been working on it ever since. It isn’t my strongest suit, but I really want to get good it.Photo by Matthew Richardson
So the whole reason we’re chatting is because you started your own fashion line.
I did! After many years of going to the club, and looking at these drag queens that were struggling to find clothes that fit them, or that had, um, questionable taste — I decided to make a brand for drag queens that would cater to men’s bodies, but with a fashion twist, since I already have extensive knowledge of fashion production through my job.
How do your designs cater to men’s bodies in what’s considered typically feminine clothing?
When you shop retail, the sizes typically become very limited once you get into bigger sizes. And proportions start to become distorted when it comes to men, because men are just generally taller, broader at the shoulders, and have longer torsos. I’ve taken women’s designs and made them fit men’s bodies.
What is your background that helped you to start your own dragline?
I went to an art high school, and from there I was taught how to do costumes, which then allowed me to have the opportunity to work in a resort. So I did resort show costumes for three-and-a-half years that took me to do fashion design. So I took fashion design in Vancouver, then moved from Vancouver to Montreal, where I worked as an independent contractor for many businesses. One of those retailers I work for is Filthy Haanz, I do all their production for swimwear. I’ve also worked with a lot of burlesque and circus performers, that got me into drag.
How would you describe the Mindy L’Amour style?
My personal taste as a drag queen comes from the glamour of the 1950s, and the Rococo kind of opulence of Marie Antoinette. The Mindy L’Amour line is more for “everyday” drag. It’s a little bit more approachable, a little more wearable. It’s still very feminine and sexy, but it’s more attainable.Photo by Matthew Richardson
Do you get more new queens or seasoned queens buying your clothing?
Honestly, I think it’s a mix of people who have never done drag their life, and put on a dress and the next day they’re out wearing it, or girls that have been performing for thirty years and do shows every weekend that just want a variety. So it’s a mixture of both.
Have you had any global customers?
Luckily, as an online retail space, we’ve had customers from Germany, Australia, Canada…a little bit of everywhere.
Have you had any women or AFAB performers buy your clothing?
It was interesting. At DragCon last year, we had a lot of women wanting to buy our clothes. But some of the styles didn’t fit their bodies. I would always tell them, “You’re more than welcome to try it on, if anything fits please go ahead buy it,”because at the end day — I want to sell my stuff to whoever wants to wear it, but it’s catered towards someone who has more of a masculine shape.
Do you think you might start catering to what’s considered a more feminine-shaped body eventually?
I think that the smallest size that we carry now is a size 28. In retail, sizes for women can go down to a size 24 or 23. For me, one of my frustrations was that most luxury stores carry fabulous clothes for women. There is an abundance of great clothes for women, so I’m just trying to now create an option of clothing that isn’t available to men in their sizes.
Do you offer plus sizes?
We do, we offer up to a size 42 waist.
And if a queen wanted a custom order, she could contact you for that?
We do work with custom orders, but obviously it all depends on the need of the queen.
What has been the biggest moment for the Mindy L’Amour Boutique so far?
We got picked up by drag boutique Queen of Angels LA in Downtown Los Angeles. Another milestone has been working with a lot of drag celebrities, queens you know from RuPaul’s Drag Race, such as Alyssa Edwards, Trinity the Tuck, Ongina, and Detox.
You’ve traveled and lived all around, why did you move to LA?
I decided to move to LA because of the opportunities it’s provided. Within two-and-a-half years, I’ve been able to work with amazing stylists such as Anastasia Beverly Hills. We’ve also worked with Rupaul’s Drag Race stylists for their promo shoots, and with the stylist for Ariana Grande. So all these amazing opportunities keep coming.
Hold on, Ariana Grande! What did you do for her?
I had the honor of making one of Ariana Grande’s costumes for her Seven Ringsvideo. I did the diamond costume. Roxxxy Andrews recreated the look a week later.
What does it feel like to not only have one of the biggest pop-stars in the world wear something you made, but then have it recreated by a drag star?
It really does feel unreal. To this day it’s a blur. We had to make it so quickly. It all happened so fast. I’m amazed I was able to make it. Ariana’s a celebrity. She wears Versace, she wears all these top brands, but because I was here in LA, because I know the gay community, I was offered that opportunity from a recommendation.
It’s all about who you know! So along with dressing popstars, you also design for the Boulet Brothers. Mindy is pink and pastel— the Boulets, well, are not… What is it like designing for them?
It’s more of a collaboration. They have their aesthetic, and give their input. I think as a designer, at the of the day, you’re always trying to please your client. You’re always trying to do the best work that you can, whether it’s creating something that’s dark and sexy or bubbly and bright.
And will we see your looks on the upcoming season of Dragula?
Yes! Season 3! I had the honor of designing for the Boulet Brothers for every episode except two.
What’s up next for Mindy L’Amour?
Dragcon! I’m very excited to launch season 2 of my line there. We’re also having a fashion show on May 22nd (at Queen of Angels LA) that will kick off DragCon weekend. In the future, I’m thinking of launching smaller collections throughout the year just to cater to the needs a drag queen.
And where can we find you?