Anyone who has caught a glimpse of RuPaul's Drag Race season 13 has indisputably noticed the sartorial force that is Symone. This isn't to ignore the looks of the other queens (I mean, have you seen Gottmik) but it's pretty clear to all that the Los Angeles by way of Arkansas performer is in a world all her own. And that comes, in part, from having a team. An invaluable component of that team: designer, stylist, and artist Marko Monroe.
In a new feature on In the Know, Symone and Gigi Goode both discuss the role that Monroe plays in their creative process. Monroe helped to start the House of Avalon in 2014, then an Arkansas-based queer collective that was putting on a set of house parties, as Monroe revealed in Out's 2020 fashion issue. The group was intended to "make a space where [queer folks] could really be ourselves without judgment." And, with house members like Hunter Crenshaw, Grant Vanderbilt, Caleb Feeny, Rubberchild, Rosy Thorn, and Symone the "gay street gang," has continued that work and evolved it, becoming a creative hub of sorts all contributing to their respective brands.
"They taught me about drag, they taught me about what it means to be gay, what our history is," Symone said in the short documentary. She had previously spoken about this in a Wall Street Journal feature where she named Vanderbilt as her drag mother. "Mark, he doesn't like to be in the front all the time but his art is how he communicates a lot." For Drag Race season 13, in addition to helping ideate Symone's package for the show, Monroe helped to design, create, and shoot multiple looks. In particular, he created the bags runway look as well as the trains runway look.
"Even though Mark doesn't do hair, I've learned a lot about sculpting hair through his methods of taking nothing and turning it into a complete structural feat," Goode says. The performer and the House of Avalon have worked on multiple projects since she moved to Los Angeles. They notably collaborated on the videos that Goode sent in for the Drag Race season 12 finale, and have done a lot of work alongside one another since, with Goode being thought of as a sister and close collaborator of the House though she has yet to be deemed an official member.
"Queer culture definitely influences my work," Monroe, who also styles Lizzo and has worked with Nicole Byer, says in the short documentary. "This effervescence to being yourself committed to how you want to present, that takes a sort of boldness and strength that helps influence the work that I do."
"As long as you're comfortable with whatever you want to put on your body, just own it and live it. that is rooted in queerness," he says.
After starting his career as an artist, having gotten an MFA in sculpture, Monroe has become an all around creative. Now based in Los Angeles, he and the House of Avalon throw parties, and all collectively help push forward each other's ideas and brands working on AvalonTV, designing merchandise, and creating visuals. This all comes in addition to Monroe's work styling and designing for Lizzo.