Style Icon: Divine

Divine: drag queen extraordinaire, John Waters Muse, ultimate queen: call her what you will.

divine style icon

The Baltimore-born queen was born with the birth name of Harris Glenn Milstead in 1945, and met John Waters (also a Baltimore native) as a teenager. The duo were destined to be longterm collaborators. In fact, it was Waters who gave Divine her now-iconic moniker. And he who also called her, “the most beautiful woman in the world, almost.” Her look has been never been replicated, and she’s an unconventional style icon for the ages.

divine style icon

Waters also had a hand in creating Divine’s rather unusual look in his films. Together, the two would decide to shave her hairline back, nearly to the middle of her head. With over-the-top eye makeup that was applied nearly up to the brow by makeup artist Van Smith, Divine’s large frame made her a standout.

To kick up the wild aesthetic even more, Divine often wore skin tight, body-con dresses and mini skirts. She opted for intrinsically feminine clothing and gave it her own twist. With a backdrop of wildly trashy content, Divine’s aesthetic became a must-have in the surreal realm of John Waters.

divine style icon

It’s possible the most famous film from Divine’s career would be Pink Flamingos. Part of what Waters dubbed the “Trash Trilogy,” (Female Trouble (1974), Desperate Living (1977), the film stars Divine as a criminal named Babs Johnson, who is proud to be “the filthiest person alive”. Divine’s character lives in a trailer and explicit activities ensue.

divine style icon

Beyond working with Waters, Divine would go on to perform at the likes of Andy Warhol’s Factory and Studio 54. If you’ve ever seen the original Hairspray (1988), you’ve seen Divine in action too: she played Edna Turnblad, mother of Ricki Lake’s character Tracy Turnblad.

Simply put, Divine set the standard for eras of drag to come. There’s no figure quite as iconic as her, and her makeup and hair will be committed to our memories…. forever.

divine style icon

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