Alexis Michelle will stay true to her musical roots during RuPaul’s DragCon 2019, running September 6–8 in New York City. After stunning attendees not “with one look” but three in a Sunset Boulevard-inspired series last year, the drag star is now going over the rainbow, paying homage to showbiz superstar and gay icon Judy Garland.
The University of Michigan grad kicks off the festivities September 6 with a tribute show, Alexis Michelle Sings Judy Garland (Far From Impersonation), at Club Cumming. While she won’t physically recreate Garland’s visage at the downtown venue, Michelle will recreate three distinct looks in the performer’s life and career during DragCon, where she will greet fans from her booth and moderate a panel with stars of Disney’s Broadway musicals.
Below, Michelle previews all three looks in portraits by James Michael Avance and shares the inspiration and process behind each.
Later this year, Michelle will return to Feinstein's/54 Below for a holiday show, Ms. Michelle, Merry and Bright. Her debut solo album, Lovefool, was released last year.
“When I decided to pay homage to Judy, I knew that I wanted to do Dorothy. The Wizard of Oz has been my favorite film since childhood. But to do Dorothy, every detail had to be right. On someone of my size, that is a tall order. I think the combination of longing for a place that feels like home spoke to me then and speaks to me now. The brilliant designer of these looks, Florence D'Lee, spent weeks, literally, looking at different blue ginghams. We bought and returned two different fabrics before we finally decided on this one. Wig designer Marco Gabellini knotted single strands of brunet hair into an auburn wig to match Judy's very specific color. The ruby slippers are custom by John Brandon. A special shout out to Felipe Gonzalez and his Carin Terrior, Squire.”
“This look is from the Christmas dance in Meet me in St. Louis. It is also, of course, the dress she sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in. The proportion was key with this look, and I'm always in the best hands with Florence D'lee. She made me promise that we'd never make anything out of non-stretch velvet again, but she did a damn good job.”
“This is the most interpretive look of the three, but somehow it feels like the most ‘iconically Judy’ to me; it reminds me of the looks she served on her TV specials. Brocade has made a comeback, and as soon as I saw this fabric, I knew it was right for the Judy I wanted to evoke with this look. When James [Michael Avance] and I discussed the look for this photograph, we decided that we didn't want it to feel staged, so he had me sing different songs from Judy's repertoire.”