It’s easy to get into the holiday spirit when you find yourself in a midtown department store decked out as a winter wonderland, complete with Santa Claus and his helpers roaming the halls, passing out candy canes and playing Christmas carols for all to hear.
But Santa wasn’t the only icon in the building spreading good cheer—it was RuPaul who brought a dazzling aura of holiday excitement to Nordstrom this week, meeting with Drag Race uber-fans and posing for photos, in honor of his curated selection of holiday gifts for Nordstrom in New York (an idea born from Olivia Kim), from a dog bed to a tote with his glammed up face printed on it.
Just before his big meet and greet moment, RuPaul sat down with W in a cozy room hidden away from all the chaos to talk about his personal picks for holiday presents (material and immaterial), the best fashion advice he has ever received, and what he recommends for the person who already has everything.
What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?
It was from my mother. Make mistakes. Do it until you find your own rhythm. It’s about—all of life is about—finding your own rhythm, your own frequency. Allow yourself to make those fashion mistakes. Also, I have the advantage of seeing pictures of myself in things and understanding what my proportions are. And the best thing my mother taught me, another best, was about proportions and understanding I have very long legs so I work the proportions to counterbalance that. The way the human eye sees things is how you want to work your look.
What is the most prized possession in your closet?
Right now, it’s this Vivienne Westwood cape that I wore here. Let me try it on for you. [He threw on the mid-length cape, twirled dramatically, and sat back down] This is my first time wearing it. George and I both got them, I got a navy blue and this green one, and George and I got these in L.A. maybe a year ago. This is the first time I’ve worn it, because I can’t wear it in L.A. I feel very English, Sherlock Holmes-y.
Capes are having a moment right now!
Yeah! I love it. My first time wearing it today. [Laughs.]
What was your first major fashion purchase?
I bought a fake fur coat in London years ago. I don’t even remember who made it, but it was phenomenal. I still have it. I’m even a little weird about wearing it because it looks so real. And it’s fabulous. That was major. I’ve always been a clothes person. Always looks. Always used clothes and looks to express myself, from childhood ’til today, so I think every look has to be a major accomplishment.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
Peace and quiet. [Laughs.] That’s usually the best gift you can give someone. I don’t usually give gifts during the holidays, I give gifts all year round. I don’t like the pressure of the holidays. I like to give gifts that people can actually use, whether it’s a gift certificate or something that is truly from the heart, like some music I’ve put together or some headphones. Because we have all this crap around the house, and it just sits there and accumulates.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Obviously, love is the best gift I’ve ever received and allowing myself to receive that love is the best gift I can give to that person. I’m gonna say that again, because you’re very young. The best gift I’ve ever received is love and the best gift I’ve ever given is allowing that person to give me love. That’s big. That’s a huge one. Things come and go. As time goes on, things that stick with you are those lovely moments. Just pure kindness.
What’s on your holiday wish list this year?
I would love a 1976 Corvette.
I want it to be burgundy. I used to drive that car. My brother-in-law was in the car business, he used to flip cars. European cars, American cars—expensive cars. I used to drive that car to high school when he’d let me, in ‘76. This was in Atlanta, Georgia. It was burgundy with black interior and it had a T Top. But it was a stick. I think I would want an automatic.
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
I’ve been both. Here’s the thing. Yin, yang; black, white; night, day; male, female—our world is made up of polar opposites. And that doesn’t mean one is better than the other, it just means that a fully rounded experience on this planet involves both.
What is your favorite pop culture fashion moment?
You know, the first thing that comes to mind is Cher at the 1985 Academy Awards, in that Bob Mackie outfit with the big things coming out. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. It was brilliant because it was kind of her revenge for not getting nominated for the movie Mask, and she should have been nominated for the movie Mask. But the only thing we remember from the Academy Awards that year is her! [Laughs.] She won two or three years later for Moonstruck.
Do you consider yourself a style icon?
No. No, I don’t. I love clothes and I love silhouettes and textures and colors. I love all that. I don’t think I’ve achieved Cher status. She’s a style icon.
What do you do when you have to get a gift for a kid?
You ignore them. Let their parents deal with that. [Laughs.]
What is the gift that you give to the person who already has everything?
Well, honestly, kindness. It really is. There are many ways you can be kind. Giving someone attention, actually listening to them and looking them in the eye, and asking, What do you want? What do you really want? And see if you have the ability to give it to them. But I know you’re looking for a material item. A material item? You know, everybody likes a candle. I may have one burning right now in my house, excuse me!