How the Art and Design of My SF Pride Party All Came Together to Celebrate Individuality This Year
The extraordinarily complicated art of conspiring against the norm
It can be magic when a group of talented people come together to collaborate and contribute their knowledge to a project or mission — turning those endeavors into something extraordinary. For example, there have been many brilliant collaborations between artists and fashion designers throughout history.
However, the one that stands out the most for me was between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali during the height of the surrealism movement in 1937. Together they created the Lobster Dinner Dress. Dali’s work inspired the lobster design, and he drew the initial shellfish motif that was then incorporated onto the fabric. The lobster art was printed onto the silk organza by master silk designer Sache. It was recreated again for the Schiaparelli house under creative director Bertrand Guyon’s in his 2017 spring collection.
Schiaparelli and Dali also created the iconic high-heeled shoe hat for the same collection. Author Dilys Blum (Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles at Philadelphia Museum of Art) wrote in her book Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli — that inspiration for the hat came from a photograph Salvador Dali’s wife took of him wearing a shoe on his head and another shoe on his shoulder in 1933.
Inspiration comes in many forms. For example, my longtime friend and collaborator, Mr. David Glamamore, and I spend a good portion of each day creatively scheming new ideas and trends and executing these crazy concepts into our lives.
Each year for Pride, I commission an artist to create the poster artwork for my annual Pride Party. My general art direction helps bring clarity and definition to the poster and convey a connection to our guests about what they will experience. I first ask that they capture my beauty (of course), incorporate my French bulldogs, and add something historic that represents the city I love and live in: San Francisco.
This year I chose artist Guilherme Lemes who paints under the name Eyelien, a Brazilian artist currently residing in Las Vegas. I met him in 2019 through artist J. Manuel Carmona who won a call for a muralist from 21seeds Tequila to depict me as San Francisco’s “Newest Painted Lady” in Alamo Square. I knew then that I would someday like to work with Eyelien and just waited for the perfect opportunity to do so.
When the poster artwork was complete, it represented everything I’d hoped for and more; it had strong vivid colors that came together with hard edges with distinct soft forms. There was a ’70s art style vibe that started to inspire Mr. David and me to think about what I would wear on Pride Sunday. Naturally, we wanted to incorporate those intense colors and began to imagine yards and yards of tie-dyed silk organza. A mutual friend introduced us to Triple Cream — a custom dye company out of New York — and 55 yards of silk went into the mail.
While the fabric was soaking in dyes, my concerns turned to my handbag. So I reached out to my friend Scott Tal at Tauro Design, who specializes in leatherwork, and gave him my inspirational update. A few days later, he called me from a leather goods store in Northern California with a pile of metallic goatskin hydes in his hands.
He had the innovation to turn them into a shiny fringe tasseled purse. This theme would eventually inspire the six giant tassels we created as umbrella covers with fellow queen Ginger Snapp for the Pride Party at venue 620 Jones. Fashion designer Domingo Cholula created a set of tasseled earrings that I wore to the 3rd Annual People’s March & Rally.
The fabric from Triple Cream returned, and, immediately I was overwhelmed with joy. The colors lept out of the box and were deep, rich, beautiful, and inspiring. Next, I watched Mr. David’s abacus of a brain bring the creation to life as he calculated how to use every inch of that silk. This process is within the typical fashion norms when working with him, and it is a joy to behold.
Then, his assistant Mary Vice began embroidering the edges of hundreds of yards of organza, then gathering them into rows and rows of ruffles before seamlessly attaching the silk into a gigantic ball gown of fluff.
The dress floated into my apartment like a cloud of rainbow puffs an hour before I was to wear it to the event. And it was as light as a feather. As I entered 620 Jones, I felt like I was levitating through the crowd, followed by a quintet of youth drummers to the main stage.
For this project, the artistic process flowed between family and friends — who brought their ideas, skills, experiences, and opinions to the project with their eyes wide open through inspiration and love. This extraordinary and complicated undertaking is the basis of creativity that continues to breathe life into my world of art and drag. I am very lucky to be surrounded by such amazingly talented friends and family.
As Vincent Van Gogh once said: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”