A little history; every Fourth of July on Fire Island, a boat of stunning and fully decked out drag queens (from both Cherry Grove & The Pines) meet up at the Ice Palace Bar at the Cherry Grove Hotel. After strutting through the streets of Cherry Grove, they board a chartered ferry boat heading directly to Pines Harbor. They are welcomed by throngs of cheering residents, visitors and fellow queens, and are announced by Panzi, who as the original 1976 invasion leader, now serves as the official Mistress of Ceremonies. (The documentary Invasion of the Pines is a must-watch)! Many of the fans welcoming the queens imminent arrival at Pines Harbor are themselves dressed to the nines, with some of their costumes rivaling (but never surpassing) the queens actually participating in the Invasion. This year especially, one performer showed off some stunning creativity, some clever innovation, and his choice of materials that truly, hit the “bullseye”.
Broadway and television performer Alex Ringler gained inspiration for his uniquely crafted Invasion garment from a popular place for performers to gain inspiration from; RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ringler told W42st.com that “They always make outfits out of unconventional materials. But the idea really crystallized around the Fire Island Invasion” ….“I’d known about it for years but never dressed up before. My boyfriend and I decided to do it, and I was like, ‘Maybe I can make a dress out of all these Target bags”!
The one challenge they initially faced was ensuring that Ringler and his boyfriend had enough Target bags to craft a full garment (along with a matching harness and jockstrap for his boyfriend). A novice at actually creating a full garment, Ringler reached out to the Buy Nothing group in Hell’s Kitchen for their abundant stock of Target bags, but luckily “had so many people lined up to donate….I got all I needed from two people” said Ringler. Armed with a scorching glue gun, Ringler started crafting an asymmetrical skirt from 28 panels, adding more materials to the bodice to craft his garment. “There’s a little bit of stitching on the jock strap, but the dress is mostly glue with some emergency safety pins,” he added. In keeping with the sustainable theme, Ringler was careful to use all parts of the bag including the handles.
While an inadvertent and misplaced step on the hem of the garment could’ve been a fashion emergency when it occurred, Ringler was able to reinforce the dress with an emergency safety pin, although some of the hems and panels had frayed a bit so Ringler said the garment will “need a bit of reinforcement”. As for his latest foray into garment making, Ringler (who will be seen in Billy Eichner’s upcoming film Bros) assured us that we will see another fashion moment of him decked out in the retail giant’s signature red & white logo). “I am get dragged up again and go shop at the Target here in the neighborhood and have my boyfriend film me”!
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