RuPaul’s Drag Race is back with a full cast of 14 queens in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16, Episode 3 – The Mother of All Balls! Tonight the trio of ball categories are Mother Goose (a look inspired by a nursery rhyme), Significant Mother (a look paying homage to a famous mother), and Call Me Mother/Father (an eleganza look constructed entirely from menswear).
We love an early ball challenge – or, at least, I do – because it shows off a ton of looks while also challenging the queens on their abilities to conceive, construct, and style a look under pressure. I think it’s critical that this challenge now occurs early in the season because it means we can see more of what the entire cast of queen is capable of. That tends to help the show avoid heartbreaking early cuts of potentially powerful queens. It separates the queens who are capable of a deep run from the ones that are still struggling to define themselves.
Meanwhile, alongside this episode we also had not one but TWO cast announcements this week for a pair of All Stars seasons! First, we’ll get Drag Race España All Stars Season 1, followed a week later by the Ru-hosted RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World. The casts for both shows are incredible – there are Drag Race Mexico queens on España and two of the fiercest queens from Philippines and France on UK vs. The World.
I’m not sure if there is enough time in my day to power rank BOTH of those franchises, but I absolutely cannot wait to watch them!
Back to Season 16, I am feeling slightly high on my initial rankings of this full cast from last week’s Queen Choice Awards. Not only did I clock all of the Top 3 and 2 of the Bottom 3, but I correctly called the previously top queen who wasn’t as strong as her first episode showing. My rankings aren’t just about my personal preferences, but about what the edit is saying about each queen’s narrative and how they are positioned to tackle the challenges ahead.
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best drag queen win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. Every drag artist in the world deserves endless essays dedicated to their talents and life stories. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it fits the established expectations of this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I am obsessed with drag and the people who create it.
RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 16 Episode 3 – “The Mother of All Balls” Power Rankings
Before we get to the rankings, let’s appreciate the Main Mother turning out a pair of absolutely delectable fashions this episode. You betta work, RuPaul!
I absolutely love this silver workroom suit and would wear it constantly. And, even if her runway outfit wasn’t the most complex, the make-up, wig, and styling is one of the all-time best in the MTV era of Drag Race. Ru loves asymmetry, but the way this wig rises sideways off of her head and then dips down to one side is a marvel of wigonometry.
#1 – Nymphia Wind (was #1)
Nymphia delivered three stunning, highly-detailed looks, including one of the strongest design challenge garments of all time. RuPaul lives for a queen who knows who she is and knows her references, and I suspect Nymphia is going to keep her tickled all season long.
This rococo Little Boy Blue look for Mother Goose is pure genius. It’s sumptuous. There’s so much of it to take in, but we never lose Nymphia’s shape inside of it. The sleeves, the golden corset, the bows at the knees, the shoes. I can’t stop looking at it.
I am sure they cut at least 5 entire minutes of Carson losing his mind over this from the judges’ comments. What I wouldn’t give for a uncut version of their critiques!
Also: here’s a great use of a dark hair worn down to the shoulders. So many queens wear a wig like this in the wrong way or with the wrong outfit. It cuts off their lines and competes with the contrast of their makeup. But, Nymphia needed a pop of dark to separate her face from this garment, and she used it to accentuate the red of her lips and the pop of blue on her eyes.
I think Nymphia had a stroke of incredible luck in getting to show off this bridal Angelina Jolie look in the middle of two other looks in The Mother of All Balls challenge. This is sleek and understated in a way that might have hurt it as a singular runway. However, sandwiched by a pair of over-the-top looks it’s a wonderful statement that Nymphia can easily serve pure glam.
Also, there’s a distinct “realness” quality to this look that contrasts with how cartoonish Nymphia’s presentations have been so far.
I feel like this puts everyone on notice that Nymphia can not only do high concept and high fashion, but also high glam. This is a queen who can crush an eleganza category. The other queens should be quaking in their heels.
I’m literally speechless.
Let’s leave aside for the moment the amount of time and effort it took to wire all of those ties and then arrange them so perfectly to give “WIND” which is NYMPHIA’S ENTIRE THEME. And, let’s assume she had those boots packed and didn’t need to cover or style them at all.
The perfect square shoulders of the blouse. The perfect sweeping hemline of the skirt. The ruffles. The seamless transition from the skirt to the corset and the perfect height of the corset.
It is so gorgeous. It is so editorial. The colors pop, yet they are also muted enough that Nymphia can get away with being festooned with ties everywhere without it being too distracting to the eye.
Season 16 feels like it is going to come down to a battle of the details, and that’s a war Nymphia seems equipped to win. A lot of these queens are going to get cut for not knowing how to handle themselves in challenges, and even more of them are going to get cut for not having clean runway presentations. Then we’re going to come to a small group of queens who came to this competition ready to make it to the finale… and they are all going to have to figure out how to sell that they’re better at the details of Drag Race than Nymphia.
Who knows, I could be wrong! Nymphia could suck at the RDR Live improve challenge next week. But… I don’t think she will.
#2 – Sapphira Cristál (was #2)
Sapphira Cristál continues to occupy a surprisingly ooky spooky lane for someone who has the power to deliver such commanding glam. Pairing offbeat comedy with glamour is an easy ticket to a deep run on this show, and the other queens seem to recognize that – since they rated Sapphira in the top for the second week in a row despite her not having the best look in any single category.
This “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater” look for the Mother Goose category merited a gasp out loud from me when it hit the stage. Not only for the sheer scope of it and absolutely stunning painted shading of the pumpkin gown, but also for the perfect illusion of a stem on the bodice and the tentacle-like roots at the bottom.
A lot of queens pack big looks like this and expect all of the impact to come from the size. Size doesn’t matter as much as details. Sapphira stunned with the enormity of this look, but then she pulled us in with every. single. detail.
Even if I think Q and Dawn’s Mother Goose looks might’ve been slightly better, this one is unforgettable.
I am the nude illusion bodysuit police. Not only for drag queens, either. I will come for a delusional nude panel on a red carpet or a plastic Barbie body illusion with no shading on a pop starlet.
I think one of the few good nude illusions ever done on this show was Shea on All Stars 5 – to the point that most queens should’ve stopped trying after that.
Sapphira doesn’t quite meet Shea’s high water mark, but she comes surprisingly close. The thing that sticks out about this to me is how the illusion of a bikini bottom leading to the leaf over her crotch actually pumps up the illusion of her hip proportions even farther from what they actually are (which is already HUGE). I think the mid-section gets a little lost, and the neck of the suit is awkward, but it’s a strong showing that actually sells nudity rather than just fabric body.
Also, the hair is magnificent. The mug… I love the lips and cheeks, but there is something awkward about the blended gradient of the eyeshadow and the angle and length of the eyebrows. But, I’m not going to come for anyone’s makeup in the second of three consecutive ball looks. It’s a wonder to me when anyone manages to change up their look at all during a ball challenge.
This look works so well for so many reasons. The color contrast. The hair. The fucking genius corselet with suspenders. The sheer volume of the skirt, which is clearly stuffed with something or supported by an undergarment.
But, for me what sticks out the most is the gestalt concept of it. Saphhira is somehow selling this weird idea of a nerdy-but-bombshell elegant lady construction worker purely by throwing a tie on top of this look and brandishing a screwdriver. Not only is it constructed beautifully (WITH MATCHING TIGHTS), but she added a story ON TOP OF THAT so we knew exactly who this character was.
I think it is very encouraging to see Saphhira smash a design challenge this hard. Last week left me with some concerns about her presenting slightly boxy and ill-considered fashions, but there’s not a whiff of that this week. In fact, this “Call Me Mother / Father” look might be the best she’s looked on the show so far!
If you think spending the first two weeks in the top was a strong showing, just wait until we see Sapphira in improv, singing, and acting challenges. I strongly suspect she has the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, talent, and STAMINA to easily crush all but one other member of this cast under her heel.
#3 – Q (was #3)
Q delivered stunning fashion for the second week in a row, but I feel like we could already see the cracks forming when she also missed out on a win for the second week in a row. This show loves to try to make a sensitive perfectionist crack, and that’s who Q is to a tee.
Get into the details of this man-in-the-moon look, y’all.
I’m usually against any kind of bubble hem on a skirt, but there’s nothing to argue with here. The sheer opulence of her headdress and bodice makes this gag-worthy (and completely forgives the lack of interest from the knees down). It’s less of a complete garment and more of a specific concept, and that’s fine when you nail the concept as hard as this.
(I’d be curious to know if she originally planned to do a gold face for this look before she knew it would be in a ball challenge where it would be impossible to pivot away from that.)
What shall we gag over first here, folks? That Q absolutely nails her Judy Garland reference while subtly dragging up this famous dress? That Q took the length down to the floor with the slightest of trains while Judy’s ended at her ankles? That Q managed to significantly change her makeup from the moon look to make this resemblance work? Or, the subtle touches like the glittering microphone cord that stayed attached to an anchor somewhere off the back of the stage?
10 out of 10. No notes.
This is a phenomenal design challenge look that would’ve won almost any ball that didn’t also have a look like Nymphia’s in it. The patchwork and the structure of the cobra hood of the dress are incredible. I love the styling, including the blunt, short bangs. Maybe it didn’t need a choker, especially since Q isn’t wearing a breastplate, but aside from that I’m not sure there’s a single detail I can ding on this look.
Q is a mastermind of drag. It feels like she has been planning for this moment her whole life – even before she knew what Drag Race was. That’s exactly the kind of queen who benefits from stunting on the runway on this show. She is giving me Raja levels of vision and absolute obsession with details, but her sweet and endearingly goofy personality is all her own.
However, I feel like she is already becoming the Loosey LaDuca of this season – a queen Ru and company would be happy to crack open by dangling the carrot of a win in front of her repeatedly only to see it get snatched away. If Q can keep her head right through the production shenanigans headed her way, she could easily sail through the first half of the season.
#4 – Dawn (was #5)
Dawn showed exactly the kind of attention to detail in The Mother of All Balls that it’s going to take to outlast the fodder in this cast. The longer she stays in her own lane and absolutely crushes expectations every week, the more she has a shot at locking up an easy trip to the finale while the rest of the cast struggles to tear Ru’s attention away from Nymphia, Sapphira, and Q.
This look makes a strong case for being the best in the “Mother Goose” category. Yeah, it’s just a slinky, layered dress with some chunky shoes. But, the color is phenomenal and Dawn’s mug and styling is breathtaking. I could not get enough of watching this in motion. She looked like some sort of porcelain doll come to life.
I think Dawn was incredibly smart to pick and actual person with understated style for this “Significant Mother” runway category.
She absolutely nailed her resemblance to Audrey Hepburn without sacrificing her signature makeup look, which should head off early critiques from Michelle about her always painting the same face. Similarly, it was outstanding to see an example of Dawn doing minimalism before the judges had to ask for it.
I’m a little skeptical about the exposed hip windows on this dress, but I think it was smart to vary up the classic Hepburn look a little bit.
Dawn’s “Call Me Mother / Father” design challenge look was 100% in her more-is-more wheelhouse. That made it a little bit hard to look at, but it was also packed with undeniably strong construction and design flourishes. I love how Dawn is a petite queen but makes herself look long and lean thanks to understanding her proportions.
The thigh-high boot covers were grand, her idea of overalls strapped to her boots worked, and the layered0and-lined cape worked beautifully. I also loved her face and wig styling here, per usual. However, the bodice of this look is a little lost against all of the other elements – I still couldn’t quite tell you what was going on there. Also, the patchwork cape was beautifully made, but it didn’t really have a big impact when seen from the back. It could’ve used some more-intentional patterning.
At the moment, Dawn is only running this race against herself – which is an outstanding place to be early in a season of Drag Race. I don’t even think it matters that she hasn’t placed in the top yet. It’s just a sign that the other queens don’t quite know what to make of her. I think if she stays in her own lane and keeps up her attention to detail she won’t be at any risk of falling into the bottom until things get much, much tighter – and then whether she stays or goes will be as much down to her storyline as to her performance.
#5 – Plane Jane (was #4)
Plane Jane is one of the most memorable characters we’ve seen on the main Drag Race franchise in a while, but this episode hints that there might not be a lot to that character beyond “mean and slutty.”
The more I look at this Mother Goose outfit, the more I hate it.
What is it, really, other than a slinky dress, a breast plate, and a cat nose? It doesn’t have the clever layering and styling of Dawn’s look. If you really stare at the shawl wrapped around her arms it’s an utter mess. Also, there’s just way too much going on around the neck. I mean, points awarded for hiding the seam of your breastplate, I guess, but it looks like Jane is just a floating head.
Also, her pulling down the waist of her skirt to show off her panties was pointless and tacky. It just made it evident that this is a set of separates.
I will give one bit of credit to Plane Jane for this look, which is that I think this glamorous hospital gown is bedazzled within an inch of its life.
Otherwise, this is a CHOP. The haphazard baby shawl (compared to Amanda Tori Meating’s cat shawl, below). The unflattering hospital socks. The weird hanging straps in the back and the nude panty. It’s like Plane Jane got done sequining the hospital gown and after that gave up on this look entirely.
That’s fine – it did what it needed to do, but there was a way to push it even further with such a fun garment at the center of it. However, I do appreciate that this didn’t turn into a joke about women’s bodies during or after pregnancy, which gets tired and distasteful.
This “Call Me Mother / Father” design garment is… something.
I think Plane Jane did something pretty cool with negative space here. The star cutouts above the breasts are clever, as is the nude panel below the waistline. Plus, I love the gigantic hair that still manages to steer clear of her face and is swept behind her shoulders.
It’s not a stellar look, but it shows that she can construct a garment and that she has an eye for styling when she’s in the mood for it.
I think Plane Jane isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This show loves a villain and I doubt she will be weak in comedy challenges. I think the real question is that if her slinky character and cruel personality will be enough to keep her cemented in the Top Four all the way through the finale. Having an immunity potion is certainly going to help, but making zero friends in the competition won’t – especially as things get tighter.
#6 – Plasma (was #7)
I was surprised by the struggle Plasma had with details across her looks on this episode. That’s not who I thought she was based on her entrance look and her bluster last week. You cannot be a Broadway queen who makes it all the way on this show if you don’t have impeccable attention to detail, because Ru will be scoping out a reason to despise you from the very first moment she sees you in person.
This “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum in Tweed” look was a brilliant concept that was slightly hampered by execution.
The extra head, legs, and arms were all just a little bit lumpy, which made it really hard to figure out the illusion. I think that was partly because the arms started too high, and partly because the torso of the person on the bottom was too short.
Plasma needed to play more with the illusion of the length of her actual torso and legs to sell that she was riding on someone’s shoulders. If her waistline was an inch or two higher and her knees were an inch or two lower it could have worked.
This Anne Boleyn look is everything I am asking for from Plasma! It’s opulent and finely-detailed. There’s really not a single thing I can pick out of it to critique, not only because it is so well-constructed but also because it’s a single gestalt look. I love the multiple slits of the gown, and how one caries down the lining of the sleeve while the other reveals a delicate pink silk.
This may have been the best look of the entire “Significant Mother” category.
I hate this “Call Me Mother / Father” constructed look from Plasma. She’s such a petite queen, so I’m not sure how she managed to make herself look so frumpy here. The black-on-black patterns, lack of shape, lack of waist, and lack of hems aren’t helping her at all. Also, she is contoured way too dark at her wigline. It’s distracting from the rest of her makeup, she is actually quite lovely.
This look needed to tear a page out of Plasma’s Anne Boleyn look. I think if the skirt was lined with a contrasting color that was echoed in a belt it could’ve helped to prevent her from seeming so lumpy and swallowed-up by it.
I’m sure Plasma is going to come out swinging hard next week for RDR Live, but I’m not sure Ru will feel inspired to reward her with a win. I really think Plasma is going to be positioned as a foil for both Sapphira and Dawn this season, as both a stage veteran and a NYC weirdo. That makes her job twice as hard when it comes to reaching the finale, because she has to do well across two narratives against two powerful players. If she can land a few top placements early in the season, it will send a strong signal that she has some heat behind her to keep up with the killer top group.
#7 – Amanda Tori Meating (was #11)
I was wrong to downgrade Amanda Tori Meating’s ranking last week prior to this Mother of All Balls. I was scared for what she might pull out of her suitcase or make from scratch. As it turns out, each of her looks this week improved on her Leigh Bowery alien reveal from Week 1, and she may have had my favorite design challenge outfit after Nymphia Wind.
Is this Mother Goose look a little bit rotted? YES. YES IT IS.
Can you get away with something maniacal in a Mother Goose category, especially if you give it a little bit of comedy? Also: yes.
Also, compare this look to similar “little girl” looks from Megami and Geneva below. Amanda delivers something similar, but drags it up a bit more and adds an obvious comedy element with her shawl of oversize cats. If you’re going for a joke in your look, GO ALL THE WAY.
I not-so-secretly adore this Michelle Visage reveal. Both garments are strong, the resemblance is there, and I loved the bonus reveal in the hair. I still don’t think Amanda Tori Meating is getting the most out of her gorgeous bone structure with her drag makeup, but there’s no denying that her makeup is a lot more precise this week than it was in Week 1.
I 100% love this look. It’s low-key a SHOOT for me. Everything about it is right – the fit of the skirt, the ruffle at the bottom, the bandeau top, and ESPECIALLY the capelet which is both lined and backed with patterned fabric.
Add to that the perfect fantastical take on a “secretarial pool” hairdo an this is a complete concept from head-to-toe that is perfectly styled.
I suspect many queens in the cast were expecting to place Amanda Tori Meating in the bottom of their Rate-a-Queen rankings for The Mother of All Balls after seeing her looks so far in the competition. They might have even been looking forward to it! Yet, there was just no denying that this constructed look was amongst the best of the night.
Unfortunately, I think the hesitance to get cutthroat with their ratings early on will come back to bite them, because I fully expect A.T.M. to stomp all of the fodder queens in the next few challenges. With an improv challenge coming up, Amanda in not going anywhere next week. In fact, I predict she’ll get a positive critique.
The thing about A.T.M. is that she may be the rare drag performer who is ready for every Drag Race challenge EXCEPT the runways. She’s funny, she can dance, she can sew, and she has a distinctly stupid brand. Also, even if she is a bit challenged in the wardrobe and makeup departments, she has an obvious eye for styling that is only going to get more powerful as she listens to more critiques. And, as a crafty queen, she actually has room to improve her runways – something that often isn’t the case for queens who get runway critiques but are locked in to designer looks they brought in their suitcases.
That might be the key to a shockingly deep run from a queen that everyone (fandom included) discounted in her first episode. Drag Race lives for queens like Amanda who are talented but have obvious things to work on. The show isn’t going to discard a queen this smart with a brand this obvious and stupid. They’ve got to pump her up for her inevitable return on All Stars.
#8 – Mirage (was #8)
There was a point in the episode where it seemed like Mirage would be a shocking early ouster, but her eye for styling and her runway presentation saved her. Those qualities are going to count for a lot in the coming weeks against some of the shakier queens in this cast.
This “Bah Bah Black Sheep” look is fine. I think it’s a bit plain and the mukluk furred boot comes up a little high, but the goofy ears and the accessories sell it. It’s not a top look, but it’s well-assembled and there’s nothing wrong with it – including an absolutely stunning mug.
I don’t love Mirage’s La Llorona runway. I know the story (partly from Batwoman!) of this water-bound ghost who drowned her own children, but I’m not really getting that from this bodysuit.
Most of the visual depictions of La Llorona I’ve seen are a veiled figure in diaphanous robes. What is the snake pattern about? Why does it barely cover her crotch? Is the nude on the bodysuit an illusion or a delusion? Why is she letting her stocking tops cut her legs like that? Why are we pairing this look with lucite stripper heels?
I think this is one of those looks that get a pass because Mirage is skinny and can pull it off. There’s actually nothing remarkable about it other than her body and her mug.
Mirage was on the struggle bus in the workroom but somehow pulled out a surprisingly fashionable militaristic knitwear look for her “Call Me Mother / Father” runway. Maybe this is relying a little over-much on her body-ody-ody, but it’s also styled really well. The extra strap coming up from the waist, the flowing cuffs that descend from the elbow, and the bruised make-up all sell a complete concept here.
(I’m not sure the nude summer-wedding pumps really work as well as something sleek and black would have, but I do think Mirage was right to go for a heel that chunky and high to elongate her legs in this look.)
Mirage is super-likable and seems to have a keen eye for style, but I don’t have a sense of how she will be as a performer in challenges that involve speaking and singing. However, there ain’t no way she is going to lose her first lip sync, so at the moment she is safely ensconced in the middle of the pack.
#9 – Megami (was #14)
Megami had my third favorite look of the night for the design challenge category of the Mother of All Balls… and two of my least favorite looks when it came to pulling from her suitcase for the other two categories. Lucky for her, she got this fashion challenge out of the way early and is likely headed into a few weeks of strength in the upcoming performance challenges.
I think there were some good instincts on display in this deconstructed Little Bo Peep look for the Mother Goose category, but it didn’t quite deliver.
I liked the massive pile of curly hair and the half-finished hoop skirt. I was confused by the makeup, the bodice, the crooked stockings, and the chunky shoes with a strap.
I think Megami approached this look from a cosplay place instead of from a drag perspective. The concept is there, but a few small changes to the makeup and styling could’ve heightened this to look more editorial. Different makeup, stones on the tights, and a different shoe would take this same look to a completely different place.
You’d never add those elements to a cosplay look, because they wouldn’t do anything to change the visual impact of it walking through a crowd at a convention. Yet, for the Drag Race runway it was missing those elements that could make it stand out boldly when presented on its own.
There is a maxim on Drag Race that you shouldn’t do someone for Snatch Game who is known primarily for telling jokes, because then you will be challenged to tell jokes even better than they do to make your mark.
I think the same thing is true when it comes to impersonating Gaga on the runway. It’s really hard to out-Gaga Gaga. We saw it on the premiere of Season 9, where plenty of queens looked great but relatively few managed to really shock and awe with their Gaga impersonations. We saw it last season with Amethyst’s take on the VMAs “Paparazzi” look knocking her out of Snatch Game contention. And, we see it here with Megami’s “Telephone” video cosplay.
There’s nothing about this that’s new or specific to Megami, her aesthetic, and the shape of her body. It’s a copy – a strong copy, but just a copy nonetheless.
Ah, but in what could have been an 0-for-3 failure for Megami in the Mother of All Balls, she managed to save the day by constructing one of the best ball looks of the night. That not only kept her safe from the bottom in tonight’s session of Rate-a-Queen, but I suspect her ability to nail this design brief might also grant her some additional longevity with the judges compared to other queens who are competing in RuPaul’s Fodder Race.
This “Call Me Mother / Father” look is great. There’s a little bit of awkwardness with the way the mermaid trumpet is attached to the dress, but that’s the only thing I could possibly ding it for. The denim skirt is lovely. The belt not only helps to divide the look, but the size of the belt elements helps to shrink Megami’s mid-section by keeping the focus on the nipped waist above them. I love the matador construction vest on top of the bright orange top. The hair is great, as were the bandanas in the back.
From top to bottom, this look signals that Megami is not just here to be unqualified fodder who will get dinged repeatedly for being a cosplay queen. It proves she’s got some heat behind her and the ability to style herself.
There’s always a few queens who get a much-needed boost by the order of challenges unfurling in a favorable way. Megami has mentioned wanting a comedy challenge, and next week she’s being served up something that should be right in her wheelhouse with RDR Live. She could score a surprise top critique with a strong showing there, and that could be enough momentum to keep her going until Snatch Game if production thinks she has something good to show.
When it comes to surviving the early episodes of Drag Race, momentum really matters – as does having a storyline. Megami has shown a glimmer of that here that she needs to capitalize on. However, if she flops in comedy or wears a runway that drags down her hopes of a top spot, I expect her to be sent to lip sync as cannon fodder for a stronger performer like Mhi’ya.
#10 – Geneva Karr (was #6)
Geneva Karr fell far from a top spot last week in exactly the way I predicted in my rankings. She has an incredibly inconsistent sense of style, and she also has very little storyline working in her favor in the edit.
Geneva Karr’s Miss Muffet look is rotted.
I think puffer material can be a challenge to work with in drag, especially if you aren’t a twig-thin queen. It’s always going to make you look puffy – it’s right there in the name.
Here, the oversize puffed material is mostly just giving “layer cake.” It looks frumpy and rumpled, it doesn’t have a slit so much as it has slice missing, and it seemed like it was barely hanging onto Geneva’s waist. Add to that the massive shoulders, the long dark hair, and the misshapen bonnet and this whole look just gives “saggy.”
I’m not sure if there was a way for Geneva to style her way out of this without the look being completely different. However, I think an updo of blonde hair would have helped tremendously. Letting us see more of her shoulders and neck and elongating her silhouette would’ve done wonders for this look.
Geneva Karr’s “Significant Mother” runway was meant to tribute a film premiere runway from Salma Hayek.
The look is a decent copy, but… why? It’s not exactly a signature Salma look and it’s completely unflattering on Geneva. I’m not saying that because she is bigger than Salma, but because there’s just nothing about this look that shows off what’s uniquely beautiful about Geneva. With a transparent catsuit there’s not much room to play with proportions, and the garment itself isn’t giving much on its own.
If Geneva was absolutely dedicated to giving a Salma Hayek illusion, there are dozens of better looks to go with – and surely some that fall into the “allowable Getty Images” pool of looks the show’s producers would approve. When I think Salma Hayek, I think glittering dresses, bustlines you can’t tear your eyes away from, and long wavy hair. All of that would have looked gorgeous on Geneva.
I’m not surprised the other queens ranked Geneva low for this “Call Me Mother / Father” design challenge look in The Mother of All Balls, but I think she almost had something here.
The bodice is constructed well. I love the collar and the disconnected arms. And, the barely-there skirt really isn’t so bad. I actually loved how the stripe of color on the back of the skirt continued down to her exposed panties! It seemed deliberate.
But, taken as a whole, what is this look? What is it giving? What is it saying? For me, there’s something that’s almost “slutty-but-fashionable stewardess” about it. Maybe it it had a jaunty little cap?
I’m not saying a jaunty cap would have saved Geneva from the Bottom Two here, but I do think if there was a clearer concept to this look she could’ve sold it more effectively – because, it just wasn’t as rotted as we’ve seen other bottom-worthy design challenge looks be.
I think Geneva Karr is in serious danger unless she can pull out some truly unhinged comedy next week (or singing in what I am sure will be a Girl Groups challenge to follow with a 12-queen cast). We’ve now seen her lip sync twice and there’s nothing special about her performing style. That not only means she isn’t likely to survive a third lip sync, but also that the show has little reason to keep her around unless she can kick off a strong narrative for herself ASAP.
#11 – Xunami Muse (was #10)
Xunami stuck to her archetype in this episode – slim silhouettes that scream “realness” and a killer runway walk. It might not be enough to take her far on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16, but when it comes to The Mother of All Balls I can’t deny that she looked good.
Xunami Muse’s “Humpty Dumpty” look for the Mother Goose category showed off a level of whimsy I really wasn’t expecting from her. Her fancy egg costume was fucking hilarious. It’s exactly the kind of stupid that plays well on the runway of Drag Race.
Then, for the look to crack open and reveal a slinky egg dress? YES. She nailed this prompt. I feel like she could have done something else with the yolk (a purse, maybe?) and had slightly more volume in her hair, but this was absolutely once of the best looks in the category.
Is it a little shady to walk the Drag Race runway looking better than your own mother for a “Significant Mother” runway? Perhaps, but if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Xunami Muse’s redux of Kandy Muse’s Season 13 entrance look was a major TOOT. It has a more obvious structure than Kandy’s and uses different colors of denim more coherently. And, Xunami’s legs are long enough that she can afford to cut them off with a cuffed boot rather than just wearing a pump.
I do think Kandy’s look had a few superior elements. I enjoy the nipped-in waist and the denim cuffs. But, the point of Xunami’s garment was not to be an exact copy, but her own version of Kandy’s look. I think she nailed that – it was obvious to me that it was a take on Kandy even before I saw the side-by-side comparison.
(It would’ve looked good with some denim wrist cuffs, though!)
Xunami Muse succeeded in her Call Me Mother/Father design challenge more on the strength of her styling than on the garment. She built a corset out of denim paired with a shredded plaid skirt and socks that were right off the rack. It’s not exactly rocket science – but, that meant that she missed out on getting ranked in the top by the other queens despite a pair of strong looks in the other categories.
It also doesn’t do much to prevent her from being easily sacrificed to a stronger lip sync performer next week for the improv challenge. This week Xunami Muse was Humpty Dumpty in the Mother of All Balls, but I fear next week she’s going to be a sacrificial lamb in RDR Live. Now that she survived a ball challenge without placing in the top, I’m not sure she has a storyline on the show. There’s really no “right a past wrong against her mother” narrative for Xunami to improve on Kandy’s performance on the show when Kandy was a two-time runner-up.
Xunami will be in danger in the “RDR Live” improv challenge unless she can bring her confessional charm into a comedy challenge. Otherwise, there are a slew of strong lip sync-ers with questionable comedy skills who might be deployed against her.
#12 – Morphine Love Dion (was #9)
Morphine Love Dion can be the face of the season and the ass of the season, but if everything she wears looks as frumpy on her body as this trio of Mother of All Balls looks she’s not going to go very far.
I hated this latex maid outfit SO MUCH.
First off, there’s no concept here. “Maid” is a low-key Halloween costume, not a Drag Race runway look.
Second, if you’re going to render a maid look in latex, maybe… make it look good? A latex look should be SNATCHED to your body and it should create clean, sharp lines. Instead, Morphine obscured her body and the only sharp line here was the hem of the skirt.
Also, the ankle strap on those heels? Really?
I’m sure half of this cast could’ve delivered a better fetishwear maid look, many of them just by styling this same outfit better.
I could not possibly care less about the concept of Kris Jenner as a “Significant Mother” and that’s matched by how little I think of this look.
Was it a decent Kris Jenner impersonation? Yes. Was it anything remarkable to look at as a runway look? No.
Lets see some glittering pinstripes. Let’s see a more interesting shoe. Lets see a lining on the jacket. Anything to give this a little bit more visual interest. I will give credit where it’s due for the half a bikini top, but then I’ll deduct points for somehow making it look so dowdy. There was a glimmer of a concept there, but Morphine didn’t have the nerve or the styling sense to take it somewhere remarkable.
I feel like this “Call Me Mother / Father” look for the Mother of All Balls design challenge told me a lot about Morphine Dion Love – maybe even more than she intended.
The boxy top, the confusing bottom, the shredded arm bands, the random witch hat… there’s no single part of this look that is well-considered or flattering to Morphine’s gorgeous figure. It’s all just random pieces that exist purely because she was able to bring them to life.
For me, that’s the entire story of what Morphine has shown in two episodes so far. Nothing is downright rotten, but everything she has worn and done all feels like random disconnected pieces that don’t tell a cohesive story.
Is Morphine bold enough and loud enough to bluff her way through an improv challenge next week? Perhaps. But, purely on narrative it feels like the show is NOT building her up to survive a lip sync or make it very far. This episode we saw a potential rivalry with Plane Jane, heard from Mhi’ya she isn’t much of a performer on her local scene, and saw Ru have to command her to remember to show off her ass in her look.
Based on tropes we’ve seen on this show before, I’m expecting her to get a “tried hard but couldn’t figure out how to garner good feedback” trip to the bottom in one of the next few episodes unless she turns out to be an explosive comedy talent or a tremendous singer.
#13 – Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige (was #13)
Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige combines a downright unflattering sense of style with a misplaced confidence about the loudness of her mousey personality. Together, that’s a quick ticket to lipsynctown. She survived this episode purely for narrative reasons.
Even after just two episodes, we’ve seen that Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige has a distinct problem with shape when she is in drag.
That’s not a ding on her for not corseting tightly – that’s not for every queen. But, Mhi’ya seems to get trapped into making her torso look boxy as well as having awkward proportions and framing around her face.
I found it borderline ludicrous that this look was something a queen would have brought from home. The problem with the feathers at the bustline destroying the shape of the torso and obscuring the face is so pronounced and unsightly that it’s hard to believe it was a deliberate design choice.
However, giving Mhi’ya the benefit of doubt, this gown could’ve been borrowed from a queen with very different proportions. A taller queen with a thinner, longer torso would probably make this look work – and her face could be seen above the spray of feathers.
Yet, it’s hard to maintain that benefit of the doubt for Mhi’ya when looks that she clearly assembled specifically for the show’s design brief are this bad. The massive diaper of her bottoms in this look is doing nothing for her proportions, and neither are the huge clompy boots. A panty with a slimmer cut combined with a high-heeled boot could have really transformed her shape.
And, again, Mhi’ya has challenges with how to frame her face. Here, the coat is tied so high that it completely cuts off her neck, and her severe bowl-cut squashes her face from the top. There’s so little of her canvas for us to appreciate and it’s closed off from the rest of her body.
I think I would be more impressed with Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige’s Mother of All Balls design look if I didn’t already have her other difficulties on my mind.
For a novice seamstress, she actually did a good job with this look. It’s all snug to her body, and I love the disconnected long sleeves. But, she’s still struggling with the squareness of the top of her body, and she’s still cutting off her neck and face with the combination of her collar and her hair styling choice.
I think there was a way to style this same look much more successfully, but I don’t think that’s a strength Mhi’ya has.
In past seasons I might be annoyed with a queen like Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige. This season I’m just sad. The show has done her a disservice by casting her purely to deliver on the promise of her viral lip syncs when she obviously could not have shown off the depth of closet the show requires in her audition. Combine that with how soft-spoken she is and I suspect we’re going to see her in the Bottom Two next week for the improv challenge unless she can light a sudden spark of comedy. She likely only escaped the lip sync this week because it was a better storyline to immediately toss Geneva Karr into the bottom after her high placement last week.
Is it likely that Mhi’ya can pick off another fodder queen in her first lip sync? Maybe, but her moves are so wild and unrehearsed that a more-controlled lip sync artist could pull a shock assassination and send her packing with a tight performance.
Eliminated – 14th Place: Hershii LiqCour-Jeté (was #12)
Hershii LiqCour-Jeté is full of charisma, but she lacked uniqueness and her sense of style wasn’t developed enough to make a deep run into this season.
Hershii was a classic early out in that she didn’t really have a stand-out talent, styling ability, or branding element to overshadow her runway looks. We’ve seen queens make it far on this show on a tight budget, but when they manage that it tends to be despite their budget and thanks to some other defining quality.
I found Hershii LiqCour-Jeté to be instantly lovable and I’m crushed to see her leave so early. I suspect she could have delivered some truly goofy comedy performances, and I would’ve liked to see how she handled choreography in a Girl Group challenge. Alas, now she is one of the eternal Porkchop sisterhood.
Still, I’m sure her family is proud of her for making it onto the show and telling her story – and I am, too.