On Saturday, the House of Miyake-Mugler put on their historic Return of Porcelain Ball to celebrate 30 years of existence. The event hosted the first ever $10,000 grand prize for the face category, and was the most anticipated ball of the year. And as such, those who competed for the cash certainly brought their A game.
With Rihanna sitting on the judging panel, as her brand Fenty Beauty sponsored the event, alongside Trace (Lysette) Gucci, Whitney Garcon, RuPaul's Drag Race's Mariah Balenciaga, Tyra Allure Margiela (Pose’s Dominique Jackson), and more, contestants were graded on their facial symmetry, skin clarity, teeth, and most importantly, their presence. For her entrance, Michell’e Saint Laurent, known widely as the Beyonce impersonator that got a shout out in Beyonce’s Homecoming documentary, put on a moving performance, clips of which have since gone viral.
Here, we talk to Michell’e about everything that went into the show, and what it was like to have Rihanna flip you off because you’re so beautiful.
I started preparing for this category in August, right after my birthday. I have my main people that I go to in order to talk and bounce ideas off. We got together and came up with an idea, and it just came down to executing it. I worked with Marco Marco who made the dress. A girl named Beverly Love choreographed the dancers. Trey is my number one go-to, so this whole idea just kind of formed from him and I having a lot of conversations.
The idea with the dress was to take a piece of the dress off with each battle. So the dress had four different pieces and the fourth piece was the final reveal; it went from a huge gown to a leotard. The part with the dancers was totally inspired by Nina West, for sure. For that the dancers started off as the train to my dress and then slowly broke off as individuals.
I honestly went through a few different songs for the music choice. It was going to be something completely different, but one morning I was taking a shower and my Apple Radio was playing and Sade came on. The musicality of “Sweetest Taboo” just resonated with me. I could really picture the whole performance, and it really took me to this ethereal place that I already wanted the performance to take me to. It just felt otherworldly, so I decided to use that song maybe a week before.
When I was at the back of the runway, waiting behind the curtain we’d set up, my dancers were getting ready and the only thing I could think of was: “Open up this curtain because I can’t wait for them to see all of this amazingness.” For me, it was about taking my time and feeling every moment, like this is what I worked for. So I wanted to soak it all up and give my best all the way up the runway.
I get up the runway and Rihanna flips me off and mouths, “Fuck you bitch,” and I was like “OK! I love you, too.” That was just major, major love. Then she goes to throw the light stick that the judges had to give 10s, and she goes to throw someone’s purse, too, like she was just outdone. She was just like over it, like “just take the money and go.” It was amazing to just receive the love throughout the whole building.
Before I came out, it was actually very quiet. I was in the back listening while I was waiting and a lot of people that went before me were getting chopped. I thought, “Ooh, this is a tough crowd tonight, and the judges are not playing any games!” So I just told myself I had to bring my A-game and so to be received like that was just actually amazing.
In the Facebook livestream, when they were explaining the category a few months ago, they were explaining that you needed to be bold and just, like, disrespectful. So when Rihanna sort of curled her lip at me in disgust, her reaction told me I had embodied that — that I brought the category how it was written. You were supposed to be so beautiful that it bordered on vulgarity. That's how I brought it.
I don’t really see anybody as a rival, it’s just a competition. But I always want to do my best and be at my best. Even if I don’t win, the people will speak in the end. So I love to leave them with a moment.