Depending on who you ask, Kerri Colby survived episode four of RuPaul’s Drag Race thanks to the dress she brought for her Night of 1,000 J.Los runway—the actual 2020 Versace revival gown Jennifer Lopez modeled during Milan Fashion Week in 2019. After a rough performance in the week’s main challenge, it was the show stopping moment that had a hand is saving Colby for another week.
While Colby’s fellow contestants walked out on the runway in their best recreations of some of Lopez’s iconic looks, Colby came out in the singer’s exact dress. After many iterations of the “Night of 1,000…” runway challenges, which have paid homage to Madonna, Lady Gaga, and even RuPaul over the years, this is the first time a queen has ever modeled an actual dress worn by the celebrity.
The dress in question is the 2019 recreation of the iconic Versace look Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammys. Colby actually had both dresses in her possession on Drag Race, but she told PopSugar she opted for the more recent, updated version because it is “the more obnoxious, louder, more Versace signature” of the two.
As for how Colby got her hands on these gowns, the Los Angeles-based performer just seems to have “a few fabulous friends” in high places. Colby told Entertainment Weekly that she knew someone who had access to “an extensive fashion archive” and she asked them for a favor. “I was like, oh my God, I know that I’m asking for death here, but can I please use this dress,” she said, “I definitely had to return it as soon as I got back.”
Colby is the latest to have an high fashion moment on Drag Race, but she isn’t even the first this season. While some queens continue to pay homage to iconic designs in their runways—like fellow season 14 queen Willow Pill did in episode three when she referenced the no-ubiquitous spring/summer 1992 Chanel dress—others are, in fact stealing looks straight off the runway. The season’s first boot, June Jambalaya, wore a Christopher John Rogers spring 2021 ready-to-wear dress for one of her promo looks ahead of the season, and walked into the workroom in an Emilio Pucci jumpsuit.
But these high fashion moments aren’t necessarily new to season 14. Last year, Kahmora Hall entered the competition proclaiming herself to be “The Mackie Doll.” She quickly lived up to that moniker when she wore an actual Bob Mackie dress, originally designed for Mitzi Gaynor, on the runway.
Drag and high fashion have always been hand in hand, with both worlds constantly borrowing and empowering each other. But when many queens finally make it onto the main stage of drag and get a chance at Drag Race, it’s after years of hard work, often carrying a day job while performing on the side, investing every paycheck into their art. Because of that, designer labels are usually not on the menu. When a queen comes back for the All Stars spin-off series, however, after making a name for themselves (and perhaps getting some endorsement deals) from their original season, they often have a bit more money to spend on their looks. While that often makes for some more elevated runways, still designer labels are not the norm. Season 14, though, may be raising the bar, making a competition already divided by income even more fraught. Not everyone can have friends like Colby’s or the cash lying around to nab an original CJR, and the next time a tribute runway comes around, the contestants are, no doubt, going to feel the pressure to get their hands on an original dress worn by whatever celebrity they’re tasked to pay homage. While it was fun to see Colby strut down the runway and live her J.Lo fantasy in an actual Versace garment, the moment takes away from one of the main components of drag—creativity and innovation. If the show’s contestants start bringing labeled looks for every competition, the main stage will just turn into more fodder for fashion ID Instagram accounts instead of inspiration for the next season of designs.