Think Madonna’s Vogue is about the magazine? Consider your bubble burst. Released in 1990, the pop mega-hit exposed a world never before heard of by mainstream America: Underground ball culture. It is this beautifully juxtaposed highly glam and dismally bleak world of 80s excess, the burgeoning AIDS crisis, and defying gender norms that’s explored in Ryan Murphy’s FX period drama, Pose.
With Season 2 of the show hitting the runway tonight, let’s catch up with our favorite ballroom houses in the way they’d want us to: By counting down their fiercest Season 1 looks.
10. We first meet the mother of House Abundance, Elektra, preparing for the next ball with her “children.” She lands on the group theme of royalty and knows just how to pull it off: Rob a museum. Thievery never looked so good. Mother Abundance steals the scene in this stealth all-black outfit draped in a white fur-trimmed trench and matching hat. Name a more fashionable burglar—we’ll wait.
9. Elektra’s most ambitious child, Blanca, starts the series by leaving the house that saved her in her youth and starting her own, eager to establish her legacy after a devastating HIV-positive diagnosis. She recruits homeless dancer, Damon, into her newly-formed House of Evangelista and promptly escorts him to fulfill his dream of attending the New School for Dance in an oversized, patchwork leather jacket paired with huge gold hoops and head wrap, serving you Bronx mama street-style realness.
8. After being kicked out of his parent’s home, Damon heads to New York and dances in the park for change until being discovered by Blanca and shown the ways of the ballroom. He is a quick study in voguing and delivers his premiere runway performance in this purple and black colorblock button down and harem pants—complete with ’80s appropriate shoulder pads.
7. Providing the sickening styles for House Evangelista is Pray Tell, the resident emcee of NYC balls and de facto father of the ballroom community. Though he works for Macy’s as a cologne spritzer, his passion is creating his own designs. Based on just this luxurious lounge look complete with a blue velvet robe and broach, we’d give him his own line yesterday.
6. Joining forces with Blanca after being abandoned by House Abundance during a ball faux pas, Angel delivers some of the show’s most fierce looks. Throughout the season she hones her ballroom persona which leads to her becoming the house’s fashion queen, exemplified by this ice princess look complete with metallic embroidered gown, icicle crown, cathedral veil, and frosty face.
5. Lulu and Candy, the brassy children of House Abundance, serve as devoted followers of Elektra… until the opportunity arises to step out of her shadow while the matriarch is recovering from gender confirmation surgery. Their first ball sans Elektra includes challenging a legendary house and slaying with coordinating crimson working girl ensembles.
4. Blanca’s devotion to the family she created is fierce. After spending most the season building up both the lives of her children and the status of her house, Blanca’s heart and hard work are rewarded with her best look—a flowing canary yellow Grecian-inspired gown—and the coveted Mother of the Year award. Not bad for a first time mother.
3. Although she spends most of the season in an on-again, off-again relationship with married businessman Stan (Murphy-verse veteran Evan Peters), Angel eventually learns the hard lesson that the only person who can save her is herself. The season finale finds Angel walking away from the soon-to-be-divorced Stan then slaying the ball competition in a white feathered mini-dress with a jeweled neckline and blue platform heels.
2. After a fall from grace that lands her working at a dingy peep show and sleeping on park benches, Elektra lends her legendary status to Blanca’s fledgling House of Evangelista with a commanding strut down in the runway in a high-waisted gold lamé floor-length skirt and matching bolero jacket with angular winged shoulders and a sickening beaded chest piece. What a way to regain your spot as queen of the ballroom.
1. Our introduction to Angel is what stands as the best runway of the season. What sets Angel apart is the theatricality she brings to her walks, like her graceful glide (think tiny steps under a gigantic hoop skirt) down the runway in stolen royal garb and jewels that becomes a legendary performance in fashion. Girl is iconic from the first episode.
The fashion extravaganza doesn’t end here! With the Season 2 premiere time jumping to 1990, the effect of Vogue’s release will shine a spotlight on the ballroom community and bring mainstream opportunities for Pose’s characters.
Plus, we can’t wait to see the best of early 90s fashion trends like minimalism, sleek lines, Calvin Klein, womenswear blazers, and denim everything integrated into the fabric of the show.
Catch every fierce fashion (and dramatic) moment of Pose this season, Tuesdays at 10pm ET on FX.