Violet Chachki Brings Coperni, Ludovic de Saint Sernin to Crazy Horse for Paris Couture Week

When Violet Chachki takes the stage for her residency at the Crazy Horse during Paris Couture Week, it will be a historic first.

She will be the first drag performer to grace the legendary cabaret’s stage, with a show running just ahead of Pride.

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“Anytime that a drag artist goes into a new space, it’s beneficial for the entire queer community,” she said.

The artist has long looked to the Crazy Horse as inspiration, so getting to set a Christian Louboutin heel on the stage is a dream come true.

“It’s surreal for me. I’ve been referencing Crazy Horse for so long. It’s been on my mood board since I created my drag character, so it’s really full circle for me,” said the dancer born Paul Jason Dardo, who created her drag persona 13 years ago. “But it’s a lot of pressure. I want to do the Crazy Horse proud. I want to do France proud. I want to do my community proud. I want to do myself proud, and deliver.”

To do so she’s brought onboard longtime friends Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, the design duo behind Coperni, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin.

“I really wanted to go with them because they’re queer, they’re younger, up-and-coming and Parisian,” she said. She has been a front row regular at their fashion shows for several seasons.

The first Coperni look was inspired by one she saw on the runway during the fall 2024 collections last March, while the second look features the same technique of laser-cut feathers that Coperni used on a tour look for Beyoncé.

Violet Chachki Crazy Horse Coperni
In fittings with Coperni for a studded Crazy Horse look.

Famous for viral moments like Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress, Coperni is known for its use of technology, which connects with the Crazy Horse history. The cabaret was the first to use something called “lightmapping” and infrared to project costumes onto the dancers.

“They’re known for their use of technology, so it was the perfect meeting of the minds,” she said.

Chachki sent mood boards as the designers worked on the looks, which referenced touchstones as diverse as artists Erté, Pater Sato and Man Ray, plus the 1980s rock band Missing Persons, Grace Jones and Cher.

She also made a trip to the Crazy Horse’s archives, a velvet-covered library in the caverns of the cabaret that houses leather-bound books with decades of photos dating back to 1951. Some historical costumes ended up on the mood board as well.

Despite her frequent front row placement, working on the costumes resulted in her first trip to an atelier.

“It was like a scene from ‘Cruella,’” she said, referencing Emma Stone’s musical film send-up of the industry. “It was insane. There were people working in all these different rooms and apartments and sewing and people running around on phones.”

The second look came about during that field trip. The designers brought out a pair of gloves that had been created for Beyoncé’s tour opener in Stockholm, based on a look from their fall 2023 collection.

“It’s so modern, so glamorous, so unique, but still has that cabaret feeling,” she said.

Coperni Crazy Horse Violet Chachki
Fitting a laser-cut feather look from Coperni.

Coperni will also create complete looks with shoe and jewelry options, and it will make necklaces for the dancers to enhance coordination. Chachki will also use the Crazy Horse house designer Christian Louboutin, who will design 12 custom pairs for her size 43 feet.

“Had you ever told 12- or 13-year-old me that I would have a closet full of custom Christian Louboutins? For my Crazy Horse residency? I would have died,” she said. “It’s a dream come true, and I’m so lucky that I have so much support.”

De Saint Sernin will design costumes for Chachki’s duet with male dancer Johnny Boy.

Chachki chose the designer for the partner number specifically because of his prowess with menswear, and they looked to de Saint Sernin’s fall 2024 Robert Mapplethorpe-inspired collection.

“It’s interesting because he’s done erotic men’s clothing in a way that is like very dignified and respectable. I want something that’s erotic and homoerotic and sexual but not raunchy. It has to be in a dignified, chic and fresh way,” she said. “Ludovic is so good at that. That’s his literal brand.”

For the looks, she once again dug into the Crazy Horse library, as well as her magician’s grab bag of references.

“I’m so all over the place, saying them out loud is actually funny,” she joked. To wit: Erté, French painter Pierre Molinier, Bob Mackie and some choice chainmail pieces from Renaissance Faire costumes.

The resulting looks are silver leather, metal mesh and iridescent Swarovski crystals with snatched-waist corsets and plenty of cleavage. They worked to merge several ideas and aesthetics, including taking inspiration from one of Chachki’s tattoos reinterpreted as an artwork on her dress.

De Saint Sernin started out as a fan when Chachki appeared on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and the two formed a relationship of both collaboration and friendship over the years.

“I love working with Violet because I think we share an adoration for fashion and entertainment but also live for serving queer excellence at its highest form,” de Saint Sernin said.

“It’s exactly the kind of project that I believe is so important for a brand like mine to be involved in because it’s about queer artists coming together and creating their own iconography for the future generations to look at,” he added.

“It’s amazing because he’s doing this homoerotic brand, unashamedly and with huge success — seeing someone who’s a good businessperson, who’s a great designer, and who is showcasing queer people in such a beautiful way,” added Chachki, of de Saint Sernin’s sensual touch.

“His clothes are just so chic and effortless, so it’s been amazing to be surrounded by friends that are on the same level as me, get it, get the vibe and understand what it’s like to be an elevated queer person.”

Other looks will be created by Los Angeles-based artist Disco Daddy, who has made stage costumes for Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Madonna and Lil Nas X. Those showstoppers will be in head-to-toe Swarovski crystals.

One is a vintage Erté dress sourced online that will be fully rhinestoned by Daddy, a longtime collaborator. Chachki has amassed an extensive collection of vintage over the years, she said.

“I’m a hoarder. If I’m bored or lonely, especially on the road, I’m like, ‘Let me check Poshmark, or Etsy, or eBay to fill the void,’ and I justify it by saying it’s a work expense,” she joked.

The other Daddy look is based on one of Chachki’s original designs. The former fashion design student at Savannah College of Art and Design creates most of her costumes. It’s the foundation of her performance and persona.

“For me, it’s the first step. By definition, you have to be putting something on to be in drag. So for me, fashion is, like, the most crucial step of it all. I always design the majority, if not all of my costumes, which is how I think it should be.”

For Chachki, this was the first time she has given over a lot of creative control to other designers for her stage outfits.

It’s been a learning curve for the fashion designers, as building a costume for stage has different requirements for fit, movement and securing a garment. But that hasn’t been the greatest challenge, she said. Time, instead, is of the essence.

“We are working closely and it’s all about making adjustments. But honestly, it’s been hard. The fashion schedule keeps the designers really busy,” she said, rattling off the calendar of couture, ready-to-wear, resort collections interspersed with events including the Met Gala and the Cannes Film Festival. “I don’t know how these designers do it.”

Violet Chachki Crazy Horse
A look for the performance.

A roster of the greatest couturiers has costumed the Crazy Horse dancers over the decades, from Cristobal Balenciaga creating some of the first looks in the 1950s. Paco Rabanne presented his iconic metal dress collection at the Crazy Horse in 1966. Later, Karl Lagerfeld, Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli and Alexis Mabille were just a few names whose designs have graced the cabaret.

Now de Saint Sernin is taking to the Crazy Horse stage in a different way to present looks that are “absolutely couture,” he said. “My own little hands worked on that crystal dress so it’s very special.”

As for Chachki’s show being held during couture week, the scheduling was a combination of wanting to hit a fashion high note as well as to place the show just ahead of Pride. “I think it’s time for the tables to be turned. I think they should come to my show,” Chachki said of the fashion crowd.

That the celebrated cabaret does not allow photos or videos inside is part of its appeal, she added. It brings an air of mystery, and a reset from social media fatigue.

“You have to come and experience it, which I love. It’s so old school,” she said. “Things like this need to be preserved and celebrated. To come and put your phone down for an hour and a half and watch something gorgeous, something done in strength and beauty and glamour, is such a treat.”

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