Welcome to my power rankings of the fashion from the fifteenth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 – “Reunited.” It’s a Season 15 reunion to bring the queens back together to reawaken their conflicts, hammer home the plot point you need to remember for the finale, and give early out queens one last crack at proving they are worth bringing back for All Stars.
I’ll be honest: reunion episodes hold little allure for me as a viewer. I’m into Drag Race for the artistry rather than the reality show trappings, and Reunion specials are all about reliving the drama.
If there’s one point with the Venn Diagram of my interests and the Reunions goals overlap, it’s the fashion! The reunion is one of two last chances for each queen to sell their visual brand to an audience who might quickly forget them once the season ends. While queens are stuck doing eleganza drag for the actual finale, the reunion allows them a free play to wear anything they want.
For some queens, that means getting redemption for their fashion fails from the season. For others, it means hewing close to their established brand. And, sometimes it means wearing something completely outlandish just for the sheer chaos of it!
This year’s reunion looks were all relatively tame compared to what we’ve seen in past years – everything from massive cartoon coats to burnt up horror prosthetics. There’s not a single boundary-pushing look in this bunch, and really only a pair that feel slightly subversive.
Did these queens get a note from producers to keep things simple and classy for the viewing audience on MTV given the climate around drag in America at the moment, or did they each come to that conclusion on their own?
Even in a crowd of unsurprising looks, a few queens managed to distinguish themselves – and several got their much-desired moment of fashion redemption.
I can’t say the same for the actual content of the reunion. Aside from running commentary from Irene Dubois and a pair of touching moments with Loosey LaDuca, the rest of the cast felt invisible up until the final chat with the finalists. RuPaul seemed intent to turn almost the entirety of the proceedings over to Mistress Isabelle Brooks to let her stir up drama.
It wasn’t a good look for either of them. It made Ru seem even more aloof and uninterested in his cast than usual.
Worse, to me it felt like it confirmed that Mistress Isabelle Brooks had been deliberate in pushing everyone’s buttons all season long. For a queen who talks a big talk about wanting to see other queens be their genuine selves, that behavior feels strangely out of sync with what she expects from others. It seems obvious that she wears her catty drag persona as armor to protect a lot of trauma and insecurities that lie beneath. Yet, if the case, why would she be so unkind to Loosey LaDuca for being the same?
I suppose it all works out in the end, since I’m sure Mistress Isabelle Brooks secured her future spot on All Stars with this showing if she doesn’t win next week. However, I feel like I’m less of a fan of her now after seeing this episode than I was during the season.
(By contrast, Luxx Noir London leaned hard into her persona of, “I’m just a girl who is obsessed with myself, is there anything wrong with that?” Even if she came off as an instigator at points in the season, here at the conclusion she comes off as cheerful, self-aware, and mostly-harmless.)
Read on for my countdown of the sixteen fashions of this episode and find out the surprising trio of queens who snagged the top spots! I’ll be back next week with a final retrospective on the season, looking at the queens final placements and performances compared to my initial pre-season predictions.
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best drag queen win!
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