The Best Looks of Drag Race UK (Season 1)

I’m a mega-fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. While I love all the different elements of drag, my favourite is always going to be the costume design and creation. As a hobbyist costume designer and cosplayer, I love seeing queens come to life on the runway living their fantasy. With the season finale of Season 12 airing tonight, I thought I’d combine my love of Drag Race and my current perspectives on British culture by revisiting and rating all the looks of Season 1 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK!

I’ll start off with a bit about drag in the UK. I think that Drag has a much richer history in the UK than it does in North America, by nature of being more accepted as mainstream culture. This isn’t to say that North America doesn’t have a long and vibrant history of drag, but rather that it is kind of set apart in its own scene. Drag, particularly camp drag, is much more incorporated into British stage, television, and film productions – think Monty Python, or Christmas pantomimes (which traditionally have a comedic female role performed by a man in drag). American drag is more polished, has more roots in pageant culture, and more emphasis is placed on glamour. This isn’t to say that American drag doesn’t have camp or comedy or weirdness, because it does, but rather that it just feels a bit more put together. I’m not claiming to be an expert in drag history, but these are just some things that I’ve noticed. I think that this tweet says it all:

Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks for the best of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK!

Week 1: Queen of Your Hometown

Cheryl Hole

I thought this Essex Girl look was such a fun and cheeky representation of Cheryl’s hometown. While it’s not the most detailed or over-the-top look, but it’s a uniquely British charicature, and the sheer amount of toungue-in-cheek details and Cheryl’s performance on the runway really sell it.

Week 1: Queen Elizabeth Realness

The Vivienne

This was a great choice for a first category on Drag Race UK. A literal British Queen. There were a lot of really creative interpretations of the challenge, and it was hard to pick a favourite! Crystal’s “Pound Coin” Queen and Sum Ting Wong’s “Stamp” Queen were close to the top for me. Ultimately, my favourite was Queen Elizabeth as she would be at Balmoral Estate. I think it was just such a unique and choice that complemented British camp/comedy drag, and was very well executed. A bold choice to go on the first runway as a 93-year-old woman in a tartan coat and wellies, but that’s what makes it so good.

Week 2: Bond Girl Looks

Cheryl Hole

What a great choice for a runway category. An iconic British franchise, but make it fashion! I like this one the best for it’s classic style and homage to the early films. The reason why I choose this one as best of the week is because a lot of the other queens had more villainous characters. Bond Girls are the love interests and side-kick of 007, and while some of them are femme fatales, they don’t tend to be straight-up villains. While it’s up to each competitor to interpret the category as they will, I think that Cheryl represented it best. Is this nit-picky? Yes, yes it is. But it’s my blog, so that’s my stance.

Week 3: Posh on a Penny

Sum Ting Wong

A classic Drag Race challenge. Sum Ting Wong looked amazing and I will fight you. It’s polished, nicely tailored, and tells a story. Cheryl Hole’s pot scrubber dress should have made the bottom two instead. And yes, there were some beautiful haute couture looks on this runway. But the challenge is posh, which isn’t necessarily haute couture. It has more connotations of being fancy and looking smart, which are notes that I think this look definitely hits. Obviously it’s just a British-slang take on the classic “Drag on a Dime” challenge, so the “posh” element isn’t really key here, but like, if my challenge brief was Posh I would put together something smart and polished too!

Week 4: Snatch Game

Baga Chipz

Another classic category. Another category that was difficult to choose a favourite. I chose Baga Chipz’s Margaret Thatcher over The Vivienne’s amazing Donald Trump for two reasons:

  1. Margaret Thatcher is a British woman, and I liked seeing British public figures being lampooned. I don’t think you necessarily have to choose women for snatch game (I liked Sum Ting Wong’s Sir David Attenborough and, previously, Kim Chi’s “Kimmy” Jong Un). However, I think that Baga’s Margaret Thatcher was good drag impersonation, wheras The Vivienne’s Donald Trump was just a good impersonation. My list, my rules!
  2. I liked the visual interpretation of Margaret Thatcher with the red eyes because she is an evil, evil woman. And the house slippers. Again, this just further emphasizes that this Snatch Game character was a more unique interpretation, and I liked that.

Week 4: Weird Science

I didn’t love this theme for the runway. , but it was a good chance for the queens to represent the weird and club-kid elements of drag. I just didn’t vibe with a lot of the looks this week. I think it had potential given the right set of queens, but this wasn’t it.

Blu Hydrangea

That being said, Blu had an amazing look this week, with or without the headpiece/face makeup. I love the look of the veins and tissue behind the eyeball. It’s very conceptual, and has such careful details implemented. This appeals so much to my cosplay-costuming tastes. I want to wear this look!

Week 5: A Day at the Races

Divina De Campo

Again, I think that this is a great runway theme that combines something traditionally British with fashion, and leaves itself very open to interpretation. I really loved Cheryl Hole’s pretty purple ensemble, but it was a bit too on-the-nose to be the best of the week. This look by Divina is just so weird. This jockey outfit with the long (literal) ponytail, the amazing structured hoof-boots, the bit as a belt, the pastel My Little Pony colours… there are just so many things right with this look.

Week 6: Rainy Day Eleganza

Divina De Campo

In terms of the theme, again, nailing it. Divina also, again, nailing it. Coming out with the classic yellow rain hat and rain coat, then shedding them to reveal a dress made of the same material. I didn’t like many of this week’s looks (sorry!), and I might have chosen Cheryl Hole’s futuristic silver look if she’d come out with an umbrella. I just don’t think it hit the mark of “rainy day” without one!

Week 7: Drag Family Realness

Cheryl Hole (& Sissy Hole)

There is no justice in the world. Cheryl should not have been eliminated based on this challenge. I realize that Michelle doesn’t like a bodysuits, but come on. They looked incredible, had a strong family resemblance, and nailed their choreography. I do think that, with it coming so close to the wire, Cheryl wasn’t quite on the same level as the other queens. I understand why she was in the bottom and sent home but, if things were based entirely on the quality of this challenge, this would be a grave injustice. If you hadn’t noticed based on several of my favourite choices, Cheryl was one of my favourite queens this season.

Final Runway Look

Baga Chipz

All three of the final queens looked beautiful on the final runway. I think each of them represented a different element of drag. The Vivienne’s look was so polished, and reminded me of the American queens. Divina De Campo was like something from a pageant, and very classic drag. I liked Baga Chipz’s look the best because I think it married these two styles together: a beautiful, glamorous look that still plays into the comedy and camp that separates the British style of drag from its American counterpart. Baga Chipz played on this comedic styling throughout the season, so it was great to see her in by far her most elegant look!

I know a lot of my opinions on the show are really picky, but whatever. I think my perspective as a costumer who focuses on character design is what motivates my choices for best runway looks. Again, all these queens are ridiculously talented, and I loved watching the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Though I think that Divina De Campo should have won in the end, I think that all the queens who competed brought something interesting and unique to the show. Casting for Series 2 is already over, and I can’t wait to tune in next year for more Drag Race UK!

How I Use My Bullet Journal to Plan My Year

I’m a certifiable planner addict. I always get crazy excited every January, when a clean notebook reflects the fresh start that comes with a new year. I’ve spent the past few days setting up my planner for 2020, and wanted to share my bullet journal with you!

Why a Bullet Journal?

There are so many options for planners and notebooks. Some are made for convenience, with premade layouts and calendars. These are fine, but I prefer to have blank pages to make whatever pages I need. Being able to design individual page layouts allows me to plan a yearly calendar, individual months and weeks, goal setting, to-do lists, travel plans and more all in the same place. I also use it to document books I want to read, movies and TV shows I want to watch, places I want to go, things I want to learn more about… that’s the beauty of a bullet journal. You can truly make the space your own, for whatever purpose you need.

The ability to design your pages goes beyond functionality – each page is a canvas for creative design. Check out #bulletjournal on Instagram, or r/bulletjournal on Reddit to see the insane creativity of the bullet journal community!

Using a bullet journal is also a lovely way to document your year to look back on in the future. What you did, where you went, the media you consumed, the aesthetics you liked are all documented in paper and ink. In an era where what most of what we do is digitally documented, it’s interesting to have something tactile with which we can reflect on past years.

My Tools

This is nowhere near all of my planner tools… I’m like a dragon that hoards planner supplies
  • Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dotted Notebook – I always choose a dot-grid notebook for my bullet journal. It allows for the best custom layout designs, as you can work vertically and horizontally, and there is less visual obstruction than with graphing paper. Leuchtturm1917 notebooks have a beautiful texture to the paper and come in a variety of colours.
  • Micron Fineliner Pens, Black, 0.1/0.5mm – These are my absolute favourite when it comes to felt-tip pens. They have beautiful fluid ink that doesn’t bleed through pages.
  • Staedler Triplus Fineliners 10 Pack, 0.3mm – A collection of coloured felt-tip pens that don’t bleed through pages. Note: don’t lend these to people because they will press too hard and ruin the nibs of the pens.
  • Clear acrylic stamping block: Meant for use with ink-stamping, I use this instead of a ruler for most line-drawing and spacing. I prefer using this since it creates perfect right angles, and I can see through the piece onto the page below to ensure I’m marking where I mean to.
  • The Happy Planner stickers, multiple packs – A remnant of my time working at Michaels (a big box craft store), these sticker packs are gorgeous. Meant to be used in conjecture with the Happy Planner book, I use these to add colour and cuteness to my bullet journal. It’s a shame that I left two of my favourite sticker books behind in Canada! It’s a bigger shame that they don’t sell Happy Planner products in England! Ugh.
  • Washi Tape, various – This thin paper tape creates an easy and beautiful way to brighten up pages with borders, divisions, and a pop of colour.

Formatting My Bullet Journal

I divide my planner into two sections: the first is pages that will be used throughout the year (called “collections”), and the second is monthly sections and day-to-day planning.

Collections

  • A yearly cover page
  • Goals for the year
No, you don’t get aaaaaall my personal hopes and dreams!
  • Year in review / Annual calendar
Always try to leave room to add important dates as they come up!
  • Mood tracker
As someone living with a mood disorder, it’s a way to keep track of how I’m doing. I find it helpful to have a spread to make me actively reflect on how my days have been so I can take care of myself properly.
  • Social Media planner
    I don’t have a photo of this one yet because I’m still setting it up. I have a brief outline of what my “brand” is, an Instagram follower tracker, my daily and weekly check-in lists, and will have more added soon!
  • On my bookshelf / Books to read
Finishing the Outlander series (or as much of it as is currently published!) is my reading goal for 2020.
  • Movie tracker
This spread is one of my favourite collections this year. It took ages, but was so worth it!

Sub-Collections

These pages aren’t full layouts, but rather collections of lists and notes to help keep track of useful things. I don’t have too much on these pages yet, but I always try to leave a bit of extra room just in case I need to add more to this section!

  • Meal ideas
  • Budget
  • Monthly chores
  • Mailing addresses for people back home

I don’t have any photos of these pages because they are practical pages – a header and jotted notes.

Monthlies

After designing my collection pages, and leaving some extra pages clear for future additions, I’ve closed the first section of my planner. The rest of the book is subdivided by month, and each month has its own theme.

  • Cover page – acts as a division between sections, and sets up the theme for the month
  • Month in review – A calendar and list of important dates, my monthly focus and goals, and a space to document all the memorable things from the month.
  • Monthly focus and goal setting – Details and plans for achieving monthly goals, some inspiring quotes.
  • Weeklies – Each week gets its own spread (resulting in 4-5 weeklies/month), documenting each week in greater detail.
  • Miscellaneous – Along with weekly spreads, months can have special spreads related to what’s going on. For example, January will have a “London” spread to help plan my trip later this month!

Weeklies

Weekly spreads are probably my favourite, since they can change so much depending on what you want to do with them. I always have a list of what to put on a weekly spread, and then use the rest of the space for notes, quotes, washi tape, stickers, drawings, or anything else to make my pages beautiful!

The first week of January 2020

Each week I include:

  • Date range for the week (eg. 6-12 January)
  • Space for each day
  • Mini monthly calendar
  • Habit tracker
  • Weekly goals

Everything else on the page is up to what I want to include, what fits with the monthly aesthetic, what inspires me, and whatever I feel just looks good on that layout!

It’s a lot of experimentation, and I’m not always happy with how every page turns out. That’s part of the beauty of the bullet journal though, the opportunity to experiment with what works best for you, and to try creative new things. For example, many people prefer to use a more minimalist aesthetic because that’s what works best for them. The maximalist, design-heavy planner is what works best for me, because I enjoy it that way! There’s no right or wrong way to use a bullet journal, and there are so many creators out there who are sure to inspire you, no matter your aesthetic tastes!

How do you prepare for the new year? Do you use a bullet journal or planner?

The Ultimate Canadian Music Playlist

Canada Day is coming up in just a few days, and one of my favourite parts of the Canadian festivities is making the ultimate Canada Day playlist! While it seems like Canadian musicians are finally cementing a solid foothold into the mainstream music scene at the moment (thanks Drake!), there’s so much in Canada’s music library to discover. In honor of Canada Day (and for future reference when I’m missing my home and native land), I’m sharing my playlist with you. I had a lot of fun making it!

The full playlist is 93 songs and clocks in at 5 hours and 20 minutes. It transitions from Canadian traditional and folk music to hip hop and EDM. Not right away, of course. There are five “genre” divisions in the playlist, so if you don’t want all five hours of Canadian pride, you can pick which segments of the playlist fit the vibe you’re going for!

I tried to add a little of everything to represent all the different elements of Canadian culture that our country has to offer. French Canadian folk songs, Maritime jigs, Toronto Raptors inspired hip hop, and small town teen angst are all represented.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to put together a perfect Canadian playlist because it all comes down to personal taste. Could I have added more Rush to this playlist? Probably. But I didn’t. Do I have a borderline ridiculous amount of music by A Tribe Called Red? Yes. Because their music is so unique and different and inherently Canadian. Do you want to find this playlist on Spotify? You can do that here. Happy listening, and Happy Canada Day!