On Duchesses and Drag Queens
by James Tuttle
A few days ago, I stopped in at Tru Hollywood nightclub for a party for Basketball Wives’ Shaunie O’Neal and her collaboration with Chinese Laundry. The shoes were okay, I guess. They only cost one or two hundred so they’re not a big investment but, as you know, I’m in favor of saving up to buy something good. More memorable than those tacky shoes was the high ratio of lighting and camera crew to actual guests and the fact that it was so damn hot in there. Once the open bar ended at nine, I was out of there so fast I left a vapor trail.
The Basketball Wives ladies who attended were quite beautiful and seemed to have a pretty good sense of style so I decided that I’d check out their show the next chance I got. I did and, well, it’s terrible. Even in the world of reality television where belief must be suspended on a regular basis, every scene on that show seems obviously staged. One of them sitting in a Miami café might suddenly say, “Suzie and Meeka said they were in the area. I don’t know, but they might want to ask you some questions.” Then Suzie and Meeka appear and instantly start asking questions. The behind-the-scenes interviews are so bland they’re almost a sedative and even the hair-pulling catfights on which this show relies for dramatic punctuation aren’t interesting. Remember when Alexis and Krystle went at it and ended up in that fountain? Now that was good TV!
On top of that, where did they get a title that has “Wives” in it when none of them seem to be married? They’re all chasing dick and buying vibrators for the 80% of the episode that they’re not brawling in a restaurant.
After an hour of that mess, the DVR happily informed that it was time for that fascinating look at gender identity studies know as RuPaul’s Drag U. This week, the drag queens of Drag U were assigned to make over three very butch lesbians. Now, I’m no expert on this shit but watching three guys who look like beautiful women trying to make beautiful women out of three girls who look like tough-ass guys was an amazing commentary on the spectrum of human experience but, at the same time, on the clichés of gay and lesbian culture that try to push people back into easily identifiable boxes. What?
Before I get too philosophical, let me just tell you that Raven looked like a blonde goddess in a beige Hervé Leger sheath. Well, I’m sure it was a knock-off of a beige Hervé Leger sheath but she looked great and so did tiny, pretty china doll Ongina. For the record, Jujubee is still giving Kimora Lee a run for her money. As good as the queens themselves looked, they definitely had a challenge on their hands transforming these manly ladies into delicate flowers. They ended up making the lesbians look like pretty good drag queens and, during the process, a couple of the women let loose and cried touchingly when they realized they’d been hiding behind a butch façade. I think I cried a little, too.
So anyway, now that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have just spent a few days here in southern California tying up our traffic and catching some rays, I thought it might be fun to bitch about what they wore. We were off to a good start when Kate donned a silly red maple leaf hat in Canada that evoked the millinery disasters at her wedding. Though I’m all for a bit of something light and whimsical in fashion, please don’t attach it with a spring to the top of your head. That shit only works with green shamrocks on March 17th and you still only have an excuse if you’re hammered. Primary wedding hat offender Philip Treacy was innocent in this case as the hat in question was attributed, sadly, to the ancient Lock & Co. of St. James, London who also made my favorite off-white polo helmet.
Other than that, Kate was turned out quite well the whole time she was here. She arrived in Los Angeles on Friday in a light gray dress with some simple, very effective draping by London designer Roksanda Ilincic accessorized with pale peach pumps. For the receptions that evening, she changed into a long-sleeved green Diane von Furstenberg shift that tied at the waist, probably as a nod to American fashion.
The most anticipated unveiling, at least in my circle, was what she would wear at Saturday’s charity polo match in Santa Barbara. She didn’t disappoint, appearing in an airy hand-painted silk Jenny Packham dress in a similar style to the Ilincic dress from the day before. The future princess was stylishly bareheaded, even though lots of queens, including some friends of mine, decided to pretend that it was Royal Ascot and pull out all the stops. Over the weekend, I was asked without a trace of irony by at least five people why I wasn’t playing in that match with Prince William. Well, I had to work that day. And I also don’t really have the extra hundred grand lying around that it cost to play for that hour and a half. I’d rather spread it out over a year or two.
Saturday evening back in L.A., Kate and William attended BAFTA’s “Brits to Watch” dinner at the Belasco Theatre down town. He wore a classic tuxedo with a tie that was slightly too big and she looked stunning in a lilac pleated floor-length gown by Sarah Burton for McQueen. Here, amongst Hollywood “royalty,” would have been her most likely time to slip up and overdo it but she stuck to her guns and dressed with ease and fluidity. Jennifer Lopez, on the other hand, looked like she escaped from a harem in a 1950s MGM musical.
There were no surprises on this trip. H.R.H. Kate’s choices were feminine, flattering and classic in mostly pale, luxurious fabrics and I absolutely didn’t mind the lack of drama. For such a young lady, she has an incredible confidence and sense of style and I look forward to seeing where she takes it.
Finally, put down that pizza before someone notices.