“It’s become a year-round project,” says Zaldy of his work for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The Emmy-winning costume designer is responsible for all of RuPaul’s looks on the VH1 reality competition series. With Season 13 coming in with a supersized 16-episode count, an “All-Stars” spin-off, and Ru traveling the globe for UK and Down Under editions, Zaldy’s shop is in a constant state of wardrobe construction. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
The sheer volume of dresses required for the show means Zaldy and his team never stops creating. Whether a gown sits on the shelf for a year or is used for the current season of the show, the demand for high fashion garments is unceasing. Each day is spent experimenting with various textiles in search of another iconic look. “We are just constantly thinking, discovering fabrics, and creating concepts around them,” explains the designer. If certain fabrics fit an idea for a dress, “we literally snatch them off the boards” and get to work, he exclaims.
Zaldy has known RuPaul for around 30 years at this point, and their creative juices have remained in sync over their many years of collaborating. “It’s a very unique relationship,” describes Zaldy, “where you trust each other so much because you’re always on the same page.” Even though the two are often living and working on opposite coasts nowadays, the designer claims they have a sense of “just knowing where we want to go.”
Plenty of the costume designer’s creations for RuPaul draw on the years of experience he carries from designing for other artists. Zaldy has a varied resume that includes the likes of Cirque du Soleil, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga. “Everything influences another thing,” he explains of the never ending cycle of inspiration. “Every step is a learning situation and you just keep using all that inspiration.”
The Television Academy has certainly caught on to Zaldy’s fabulousness. The costume designer has won three consecutive Emmys for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” He admits that the wins and nominations mean more each time he receives one. “Everybody in my industry works so hard,” he notes, “for your peers to say, well we all work hard but we really want to celebrate the work you’ve done, it’s such an honor.”
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