The 27-year-old’s drag-surname “Chachki” translates to “trinket’ in Yiddish, something there for visual appeal and has no other function, and yet her distinctive, burlesque look and feminine character has taken her from Atlanta to around the globe, something she never have imagined, as she sat stealing makeup from her Mom as a child.
Dubbed a winner from the first episode we saw her on RuPaul’s Drag Race aged just 22, to her 18-inch waist that’s seen more Met Galas, Prada couture and high-fashion parties than most could dream of, new-age drag icon, Violet Chachki, has a face that most of us will recognise.
“The first time I went out in drag was Halloween when I was 17 (mid-2000s), and I went out as Mary Kate Olsen who was my biggest fashion inspirations.”
Having had a penchant for industry role-models from a young age, Chachki, who is branded with a tattoo of the original Mattel logo (a nod to her doll-like appearance), became more serious about drag once she realised that no club performers she saw were likened to her personal taste.
“I think I always knew aesthetically what excited me the most, and I think I was always looking for that aesthetic in other people and it didn’t really happen. I decided to take it upon myself to be the change I wanted to see in nightlife.”
And there’s no doubt she was, as her career surged post-reality TV and she gained an Instagram following that now totals over 1.6 million, and an amas of female fans that turn to the character as someone who destroys the male gaze while oozing sex-appeal in outfits that Jessica Rabbit would be in awe of.
“In the drag community it’s mostly women in the audience, even for burlesque” Violet says. “I think people look at strippping as a male gaze thing and I think the actual neo-classical burlesque community is more about women supporting women and their creativity, along with freedom of expression. I think that’s why women enjoy burlesque, it’s like drag for cis-women.”
However, her burlesque-image, which is heavily inspired by the likes of fellow icon Dita Von Teese and different time periods of the 60s and 70s, is not *actually* meant to look like a woman – despite her now fronting the campaigns of Pat McGrath and becoming a staple figure at every couture fashion week.
She cements: “I want to look like a drawing of a woman. I like a nice, dark, arched black eyebrow, lots of graphic lines – particularly around the eye to make your eyes look bigger, and just a lovely, crisp, fire engine red lip.
“Those are the staples of a classic and beautiful face. You’re going to look so graphic that you look like a drawing, and it’s about exaggerating the femininity of your face.”
Although Violet says she avoids trends and likes to stick to what she knows, as a beauty icon for many women (and men alike), how can we all incorporate a little bit of Chachki into our routine? Spoiler: It doesn’t involve watching 15 hours worth of YouTube tutorials.
“Patience is really the answer. Setting time aside to truly enjoy getting ready is so important, and enjoy your glam is the ultimate tip for getting perfection.
“Take the time to relax and put on some music or have a little champagne, just getting in the right headspace makes a big difference.”
That being said, she also admitted she loves to take up to 3 hours to get ready (despite falling victim to applying her face in the back of many moving cars – DANGEROUS), and hitting the dermatologist for a facial at least once a month as well as an elusive skincare routine (she’s as obsessed with retinol as we are) for the key to the in-between show glow – and even admits that off-duty-drag-queen days where there’s no red lipsticks in sight are her favourite.
“Oh I love not wearing makeup, that’s like my favourite thing.” she says.
“I just love a little bit of tinted moisturiser or an SPF on days where I don’t have to wear any makeup. Giving your skin a break is crucial and there’s actually a bit of glamour in beautiful skincare and no makeup days.”
But is Violet’s classic arched brow and quintessential cat-eye combo sticking around? She’s hinted that we could be seeing a new face at some point in the future…
“This is definitely how I want Violet to look forever, but I’ve always loved the idea of creating a second drag character and having an entirely new aesthetic.
“I’d love to start over and be totally anonymous – I would definitely do more of a blonde, bronze sort-of Farrah Fawcett, like a 60s beach bunny vibe, so totally different to the bossy sex siren that I do now. I have a mood board for what I would do if I were to do another drag character and how they would look.” – we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled on RPDR season 22.
But for now, the drag-queen-cum-model-cum-instagram-sensation is continuing her reign as she sets off on a European tour of her new show “A Lot More Me” where she says we can expect to see, literally, a lot more her than the icy exterior she was branded with during her Drag Race stint, with acrobatics and show-stopping numbers that prove she really is more than just a look queen. But hey, then again, she never had to lip sync for her life to prove otherwise…
“People will believe what they want to believe, but you’ll see so many more dimensions to me that people don’t know I have – I’m going to be doing some stand up, some MCing, there’s going to be a lot of things that are unexpected for a lot of people, absolutely.”
“Drag is amazing in the sense that it’s so creative and there’s so many things you need to master to do it at this level.
“You have to know a lot about costume design, construction, makeup, artistic direction, photography – everything. I have a really strong passion for clothes and of course makeup is a huge part of my career and I’ve already got to work with so many amazing beauty brands, but there’s still so much more for me to do.
“I don’t see myself performing or doing drag forever, but there’s so many directions I’d like to go in that the sky really is the limit.”