Over the top avant-garde outfits made hair show Glamazon the talk of the town last year. Ellie Dyer talks to the men behind Glamazon 2.0 — a bigger and better version of the style extravaganza that is set to take over Phnom Penh next month. Photography by Charles Fox.
For pop culture enthusiasts Ryan Drewe Taylor and Brandon Lee of The Dollhouse hair salon, creating avant-garde styles is a way of bringing their imaginations to life.
“Designers like Alexander McQueen or John Galliano, they create their dreams or their inspiration. That’s how it is for us — it’s more for us to express our dreams. It sounds cheesy, but these are things you think about,” says Taylor, sipping a cold drink in a rare moment of peace during preparations for one of the biggest shows of his career: Glamazon 2.0.
The words outrageous, glamour, glitter and pop are mentioned frequently as the pair explain the concept behind the arts and entertainment gala, set to be held at NagaWorld on May 2. Celebrity drag performances, dance segments, a catwalk show, as well as an avant-garde and transformation section — where participants will be given a style make-over — are all planned in a bid to make the event bigger, better and broader than its first incarnation.
The initial Glamazon, held in April 2012 and billed as a hair show, won rave reviews in local press and was much talked about among the fashion community. The overwhelming success caught the stylish team, who were hidden backstage for most performances, by surprise.
“You could hear all these ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’,” recalls Lee, who is originally from Malaysia. “Hopefully we will do that again this year.”
The stakes have certainly been upped for 2013. The avant-garde segment — one of the event’s main draws — has been inspired by iconic women of the past, from historic figures such as guillotined former Queen of France Marie Antoinette to fictional cartoon and film characters.
“It’s like iconic female figures who we worshipped when we were young … or movies we loved to watch, or songs we loved to listen to. All these little things,” explains Lee, who worked in the furniture industry before venturing into the style business.
“We always collect images that are really fun, quirky or weird. It’s great the way we can put them all together.”
“We won’t reveal what they are going to do, but they don’t just walk up and down. There’s definitely more theatrics, and we’ve incorporated the Phnom Penh Central School of Ballet in our show,” adds Taylor.
One of the most outrageous elements will likely be Jujubee — an exuberant half-Laotian, half-Thai drag queen who shot to stardom in American reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Lee and Taylor are such big fans that they own a small dog named after the star, who as well as performing at Glamazon plans to hold tutorials for Cambodian drag queens at Blue Chilli bar during her visit.
“She’s an expert, a pro and one of the best in the world. She’s going to give some tips, advice and guidance,” Taylor says, highlighting that Jujubee has performed all over the world and will be jetting off to Paris after her Cambodian performances.
It is hoped that she can demonstrate to would-be drag artists that careers are possible within the niche art form, as shown by Jujubee and mainstream acts such as Ru Paul and Dame Edna Everage.
“Rather than just being sexy, or just being comedic, you can be more than that,” adds Lee.
The Dollhouse is also collaborating with a range of artistic partners throughout the city including DJs, dancers, singer Rhiannon Johnson, make-up artists, designers Juli Handayani and KeoK’jay’s Rachel Faller, and various dance troupes.
“Every little bit of it, we want people to be creative,” says Taylor, who adds that proceeds will be given to conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance. But a word of warning to attendees: make an effort with the dress code, defined as ‘over-the-top outrageous’. As the duo point out: “there’s not going to be anyone in flip flops.”
For more information about Glamazon 2.0, please visit the “Glamazon by The Dollhouse” Facebook page. Tickets cost $30 and the show starts at 7.30pm.