Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the fifth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 – House of Fashion. It’s an unconventional material design challenge with a twist: the queens are split into three groups and have to present cohesive runway collections for the House of (Michelle) Visage, the House of (Carson) Kressley, and the House of (Ross) Matthews.
This episode lacked a certain spark, and it’s hard to decide if that was down to the 40-minute runtime or the peculiar version of this familiar challenge. Seasons 3, 4, & 5 each opened with and iconic unconventional materials episode with a full cast of queens.
Season 4’s “RuPocalypse Now!” is probably the best of the bunch – packed with Sharon’s zombie look, Jiggly’s baked potato couture, and LaShawn Beyond’s classic “Post-Apopaloctic” line. It’s a 63-minute edit, but 20 of those minutes are entrances and a length photo shoot challenge! That means the meat of the design challenge (including the whole “wrestling with zombies for clothes” bit) still fit into 40 minutes, and it included both a walkaround with Ru and the private judges deliberations.
Of everything that feels squeezed by these 40-minute edits, I think the element that is most-sorely missing are those private judges deliberations. Without them, we don’t have any sense of RuPaul as a character on her own show. It also complete defangs Michelle Visage if we can’t hear her cutting opinions in private. Finally, it renders the guest judges completely pointless, since we don’t get to hear their unbiased opinions as they go to bat for the queens.
It was especially cruel to miss out on those deliberations in this episode, where Michelle and Ross had queens representing their brands and the guest judge was Janelle Monae, who knows something about fashion!
House of Visage
House of Kressley
House of Matthews
Looking beyond the edit, there was also the unusual nature of this iteration of the unconventional material challenge. First, since the queens were in teams it meant there was no apparent fighting over materials – sharing was in their best interest. Aside from losing the prurient fun of the catty fighting over who gets what leopard-print pillow, what was really lacking was a feeling of scarcity.
Part of what makes unconventional material challenges truly challenging is the queens trying to figure out what they can construct out of things other than fabric. Yet, in this challenge there was enough for nearly every queen to make a cape!
If I had to award a team win, it’d go to the House of Matthews. Even if their collection trended a little bit casual, it was cohesive and there wasn’t a bad look in the bunch. The judges seemed to agree, giving half the group a high placement and calling the other two safe.
What did this unconventional version of the unconventional materials design challenge mean for my power rankings? While the very top remains the same as last week’s Snatch Game ranking, there are some major shake-ups in the middle of the pack as the queens without wins jostle for positive critiques and screen time.
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen win! [Read more…] about RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15, Episode 5 – House of Fashion, Review & Power Ranking