I am late for my portrait sitting with drag diva Violet Chachki. As the taxi swings into Place de la Concorde, I spot her in one of the square’s monumental fountains, throwing shapes for photographer Guillaume Thomas. She is wearing a Schiaparelli dress of Hockney swimming-pool blue, and traffic has shuddered to a halt.
Ten minutes later, Chachki and Thomas join me at the nearby Hôtel Costes, my home base during my visits to Paris. The rooms are opulent but small—and designed to appeal to Napoleon III—and Chachki’s presence is commanding. At over six feet tall, even without the four-inch heels and Priscilla Presley pompadour she was wearing earlier, she is not scaled for the space. Lounging on the bed is a solution and, I sense, a relief to her. Chachki has come to Paris to take in the fall/winter couture shows, held in late January, and they are a Rubik’s Cube of fittings and photo opportunities, dinners and schmoozing. And then there is the business of being Violet: She is currently touring with her own burlesque show, “A Lot More Me,” promoting the perfume Dirty Violet, and keeping her 1.7 million devoted Instagram followers up to speed.