Sew Fierce is the reality show paying drag designers their dues

Sew Fierce is a drag show with a difference, putting eight sickening drag designers under the spotlight – and not a moment too soon, according to host and mentor Barbada De Barbardes and Jaime Lujan, known as their drag persona Lucinda Miu.

“Drag is having a major moment right now,” Lucinda Miu’s out-of-drag alter ego, Canadian Jaime Lujan, tells PinkNews.

“When we had Canada’s Drag Race announced, drag became its own economy, it became something sustainable. I was able to have my full time job just be sewing for drag artists.”

Lujan’s first point feels like a deliberate understatement in the wider context of his chat with PinkNews. Drag is having a major moment right now, and its no longer limited to the pink fabric walls of RuPaul’s Drag Racethough they’re somewhat inescapable.

Whether it’s Drag Queen Story Hour, every country under the sun receiving their own spinoff of the aforementioned Miss Paul’s Drag Race, or other shows sashaying to our TV screens like Queen of the Universe and Call Me Mother, you will undoubtedly have seen a drag queen in some form of media recently.

But where there’s a drag queen, there’s a garment – and the makers of those garments don’t always get the same flowers as those doing death drops in them.

Enter Canadian series Sew Fierce, the Froot TV show which sees eight of the world’s top drag designers compete to win the first ever drag designer competition and a cash prize of $10,000.

Sew Fierce is streaming now on Froot.TV.

Designers create a look based on a weekly theme, judged by Jaime – and host Barbada De Barbardes – assisted by guest appearances from queer celebs like Drag Race winner Priyanka and Vancouver-based fashion designer Evan Clayton.

It is this “major moment” in drag, Jaime says, that prompted a need for someone – anyone – to create a dedicated space to showcase the process of designing for drag queen in the way that Sew Fierce does, even though “there’s been a need and a want for a show like this for a while”.

For Barbada (Call Me Mother), who is very much the drag queen who wears the costumes designed and made for them, this opportunity to platform creators was less of a want, more of a “need” for designers to not be left behind in the mainstream presentation of queer talent.

“[I] have to rely on amazing drag and costume designers. People need to see behind the scenes and we get to actually, specifically take the time to think and put the spotlight on those designers.”

For both artists, Sew Fierce was an opportunity to try something new. Barbada had never hosted a TV show before, and as Jaime points out, “designing can be a pretty lonely experience”.

The gathering of eight “incredible designers” that Jaime “respects and looks up to” created a community environment that doesn’t often go hand-in-hand with the idea of queer people in competition with each other.

“They were all so generous and gracious and treated me so wonderfully, they really made me feel a lot more confident in myself,” they say.

“There is drama coming up, I promise. But it was really just artists doing what they do best, which was the best thing for me.”

That “love fest” was an important aspect to highlight for Barbada, too.

Sew Fierce is about the fashion, and the work behind the fashion, but also the community aspect of the queer community – and the family side of it that sometimes we don’t get to see as often on other competitions, you know, where it’s a bit more bitchy,” she explains.

But, it’s a competition, and people do have to go home. Jaime, however, is desperate not to fall into what we’re going to call the Michelle Visagification of judging – which can sometimes come off as personal, à la Adore Delano in All Stars 2.

“Whoever’s in the bottom, I have been there several times in my career. There’s so many things that can go awry. It was so important for me in every critique to make them realise I’m talking about the work. I’m not talking about them, personally.

“Them being on the show proves that they’re a great designer.”

The pair are keeping quiet on the show’s best moments, though, meaning you’ll have to watch to find out – but if their limited answers to that question is to be believed, you’ll want to stick around until the finale.

“The finale looks are astonishing. They’re out of this world,” says Barbada. “The amount of fabric that was used … you’re going to have to watch it.”

To second that, Jaime adds: “The finale looks from the contestants are some of the best drag looks I’ve seen on any drag television show. And the best representation of what the show is all about.”

For both artists, Sew Fierce was an opportunity to try something new.

Sew Fierce is its own ferocious showcasing of skill and love for drag – but it’s nigh impossible to talk about drag without adding ‘race’ onto the end and putting ‘RuPaul’s’ in front of it. So when asked whether the world’s biggest drag stage should let the queens credit their designers on the show, Barbada answers in the affirmative.

“It wouldn’t hurt,” says Barbada. “Especially with something like Drag Race, maybe it’s not something that they can do the entire run of the show, but especially for finales, when you have those ridiculously ornate, incredible, mind-blowing costumes, a little plug would be good.”

Jaime, on the other hand, agrees and then U-turns – but not for the reason you might think.

“I do think they should. Yeah. Or, on the other hand, maybe they shouldn’t. And we’ll do it all on Sew Fierce.”

Sew Fierce is streaming now on Froot TV.

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