Feb 15th, 2019, 11:10 AM

Dragtime

By Jacqueline Wegwerth
Kyleigh Simmons and former contestant from season 10 of Rupaul's Drag Race, Miz Cracker.
Kyleigh Simmons and season ten RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Miz Cracker. Image credit: Kyleigh Simmons
Student by day, queen by night.

Kyleigh Simmons is among 5000 eager designers at the London College of Fashion. Beyond acquiring a spot in the eighth-best fashion school in the world, working for celebrity fashion designer Nikita Karizma, and working as a part-time make-up artist, Simmons continues to stand out among the crowd by performing in front of one.

Simmons first discovered drag while viewing drag icon RuPaul's music video "Cover Girl" off his album Champion. It was years later, while watching RuPaul's hit reality competition series "RuPaul's Drag Race," that Simmons started to follow drag more closely, and "it all kinda spiraled from there!"

Simmons followed queens from the show and attended several of their performances around London. As her interest in drag grew, so too did her participation. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

twinkle twinkle little ⭐️

A post shared by kyleigh simmons (@kykysimsim) on

 

Simmons got personally involved with drag first by experimenting with makeup looks before attending an Alyssa Edwards performance. The looks grew more complex as she gradually started adding wigs and outfits to her looks. Five months later, Simmons started to perform. 

Inspiration strikes Simmons from a variety of places. "I get a lot of my references from pop divas [such as] Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX and Christina Aguilera. I also reference a lot of '60s fashion in my looks. As far as makeup inspiration, a lot of it comes from random Instagram [and] Pinterest accounts or just trying out different techniques, colors and shapes!"

Concerning her creative process for designing, Simmons remarks, "Most of the time I start on Pinterest, or I’ll just come across something in pop culture that I screenshot and either make it right away or save for later. For example, when Ariana [Grande]’s "No Tears Left To Cry" video came out with her little polka dot dress, I went and made [the dress] right away, because I knew it fit my aesthetic. On the other hand, if I know I have an event or performance coming up awhile in advance, I’ll take a lot of time to gather a bunch of references and edit them down and combine them to create the look I’m going for."

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Awesome !

A post shared by kyleigh simmons (@kykysimsim) on

 

Simmons recognizes an overarching theme in her designs. "A lot of the things I'm wearing currently include short, flouncy dresses, sparkly jewelry, boas, and boots. In [day-to-day] fashion, a common theme is definitely very street but very wearable—very much like Yeezy meets House of CB."

In the classroom, Simmons studies lingerie and swimwear design. Simmons pulls from these subjects as inspiration for her ready-to-wear creations, describing them as, "very on trend and a mix of streetwear and lingerie techniques." 

She recognizes a difference in these garments and the ones she creates for drag, saying, "My aesthetic for designing drag and ready-to-wear fashion are very different. In drag, I like to wear [and] create very sparkly, bright, and girly garments with a simple silhouette."

Her favorite garment embodies this description entirely. 

"My favorite look was actually one that I only had a few hours to come up with! I was dancing for Charli XCX during the promotional period for her single "1999," which is green-themed. So I just picked a silhouette that reflected my aesthetic and I knew I could make quickly."

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

🔫🔫🔫 hair by @dextercliftwigs dress by moi 🔫🔫🔫

A post shared by kyleigh simmons (@kykysimsim) on

 

Simmons continues to balance drag with other commitments. "Right now, I'm focusing on university and re-wearing old looks. If a specific gig comes up where there's a look I need for a specific number, or if I just feel in a rut with my drag wardrobe, I'll create something new, but for the time being, I don't currently have anything in the works."

Though not currently designing a new garment, Simmons is still shining in her tried and true dresses. She can be seen at super-pub The Glory in London on February 11, followed by the DYMK Bar in Bournemouth on February 22, Gender Schmender drag event in London on March 2 and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on April 9.