There’s fame, and then there’s single-name fame—a covetable eminence reserved for certain people of great impact. Aquaria is one of these select few. It’s no secret that drag queens have long-shaped the beauty industry: from contouring trends, to triangle-of-light highlighting, most big makeup movements originated on drag stages.
This year has already marked a lot of cultural moments for drag. Taylor Swift’s music video for “You Need to Calm Down”, FX’s hit show Pose (an ode to Paris is Burning), and The Met Gala’s Camp: Notes on Fashion theme and attendance are just a few examples.
It’s clear that an overall tonal shift has turned drag mainstream, but Aquaria is in a tier all of her own. The incomparable drag luster has usurped all industry norms, from winning RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 to now having her very own limited edition makeup collection with drugstore behemoth brand NYX Professional Makeup.
For the first time in history, we’re seeing big-name beauty collections with drag queens, and it’s no surprise that Aquaria was the first (even if by just a few days).
The palette is the perfect balance of neutrals, and shades that spark a level of confidence crucial for sporting colored lids. The color story is both high fashion fun and totally wearable, even for those that are afraid of pigment. My favorites include: the icy highlight shade “6”, a canary yellow (my new favorite color for eyes and cheeks), and the poolside blue (Byrdie’s prediction for biggest make-up trend of the summer).
In a pampered back room of the Union Square NYX Professional Makeup store, Aquaria stands tall in a long black wig with baby bangs, blue and yellow eyeshadow, an ornate feathered wrap dress, and fishnet tights. I stared for a while trying to figure out what about her makeup made it look so flawless IRL. I was coming from a red-eye flight and trying to muster the energy to dress to impress, but I might as well have been wearing a Snuggie and clogs; Aquaria’s presence is just that extraordinary.
The young New York City native is as poised as she is witty; read below for our full kiki on her palette, favorite drugstore product, and of course, dating advice (we could all use it).
On first memories using make-up:
“When I first started getting into make-up, I was in 7th grade. It was very early that I started playing with things, watching people online, seeing people explore and just experiencing new techniques.”
On first time in drag:
“I’ve always been someone who likes to dress up and be theatrical and colorful, so I feel like I’ve always been in some sort of drag all throughout my life. Basically, when I started going to college was when I started getting really into it.”
On attending the Met Gala:
“It was so nice to be invited. They only have about 500 or so people there, so being part of a very select group of people was really fantastic. I wanted to go for something definitely different and more architectural or sculptural than what I usually go for. It was a really nice experience and everyone was so wonderful. I guess everyone assumes if you’re there, you’re there for a reason, so everyone’s very kind.”
On the one drugstore product she can’t live without:
“Coty Airspun Powder. I could just go through that over and over. It’s been the only thing I’ve ever used and I’m just extremely comfortable with it and it’s extremely predictable. There could be something better, but I don’t know about it and I don’t think I’m going to find out about it.”
On the NYX palette and favorite part of the collab:
“I love how funky the packaging is, that came out really cute for me. I really enjoyed the creation process of everything; being able to have my creativity show through the promo images and the imagery in general was amazing. It was so nice that NYX was down to work with whatever I wanted to throw at them. Also, I get to do events like this where the whole store is decked out as me, which is horrifying and amazing—it’s creepy but in a good way [laughs]. NYX definitely goes above and beyond when it comes to taking care of me, I mean—my favorite candles are here and everything.”
On dating advice:
“Date yourself. It’s a lot cheaper than dating someone else, and a lot more fun.”