One of Couleé’s most unforgettable moments this season came when she took on the “Love the Skin You’re In” catwalk challenge. Her glitzy outfit was an interpretation of Sandro Botticelli’s famous painting The Birth of Venus, “but BLACK,” wrote Couleé on Instagram. She took inspiration from the goddess Venus—traditionally depicted as a Roman woman governing over love, sex, beauty, and fertility—and twisted it to celebrate Couleé’s own Black body instead.
For the 3-in-1 challenge, Couleé sported a custom look from Florence D’Lee that embodied the metamorphosis of a rosy maple moth. In a way, that look was symbolic for Shea as a contestant this season; as each episode aired, her looks only became stronger, better, and more beautiful. She underwent her very own metamorphosis.
Couleé also had a clear appetite for high fashion during the show, one that has elevated each message that she wished to convey. For the Camp Couture runway challenge, for instance, she paid homage to one of her favorite designers, Richard Quinn, for a “nosy neighbor” garden look. She’s also worn buzzy designers such as Christopher John Rogers, among others.
Her latest winning look, worn on the season finale, was a pink ball gown designed by Viktor Luna and Beau Toombs, and is seemingly inspired by the voluminous shapes made famous by Cristobal Balenciaga. (She called it a “Bubblegum Balenciaga Fantasy.”) It’s actually a recreation of a prom dress once worn by her mother, Marilyn, and reflects Couleé’s larger vision for her drag ensembles in general. As she explained in the Instagram caption for the look, “My Drag in its purest form is a love letter to Black women.”
Below, more of Couleé’s best Drag Race looks.