How Vin Tagè is supporting the Australian LGBTIQA+ community one handmade frock at a time
With his fancy frocks a symbol of diversity and inclusion, Daniel Theophanou, aka Vin Tagè, explains how he's supporting the Australian LGBTIQA+ community.
Video: The Australia Post logo sits in the bottom right corner. White text reads, "Australia Post Pride believes in creating connections and opportunities that deliver a more inclusive future for Australia."
On top of a sewing machine, a spool of white thread slowly unwinds. Hands rip dark cloth. A man with long curly hair and a beard sews. Scissors cut fabric. Hair scraped into a bun, the drag artist puts on make-up which includes a sharp black beard and moustache, white eyebrows, and long glittery eyelashes. Text: "Vin Tage, Drag Queen."
Audio: Vin Tage: Vin Tage was born three years ago. I was watching these amazing artists do their thing and I thought, "Oh, that would be so lovely to do."
Video: A long rack is full of clothes in a wide range of colours and fabrics. Wigs and hats are stored on a shelf below a rack of colourful shoes. Wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, and no-make up, Vin Tage sets up a dressmaker's model. He returns a black gown to the rack, then takes out a flowery brown dirndl with a lacy white top.
Audio: Vin Tage: I love making things, being creative, op shopping. Oh! It's a Mrs Claus, you know. And then I thought, "Well, we could do it in a...in a fabric that would also double as Oktoberfest."
Video: Photos show Vin Tage in colourful flamboyant costumes. The right side of an outfit is a black suit, the left side is a red blouse with a black and gold skirt and a long curly red wig. Vin Tage wears a burgundy military style outfit, long white gloves, a pearl necklace and black military cap perched on a bushy brown wig. Vin Tage wears a suit with large black stripes, a half-black and half-white wig, and white face make-up with her signature black beard. In a convenience store she wears a ball gown that has a massive burgundy skirt, a black fur bodice trimmed with feathers, and sleeves of long brown wavy hair. Her towering bushy red and black headdress is topped with a silver flower. On a boat Vin Tage wears a blue gown with a ruffled lace collar, the pearls and the military cap. Walking with Santa Claus, she wears the dirndl over full green skirts. Her wig is a white mop and her beard is coloured white.
Audio: Vin Tage So then I sort of got a name for doing crazy things. An outfit made out of a rug, bin liners. It just sort of evolved from that. My everyday walk-in wardrobe. Me as a...as a boy is behind you there. It is pretty much a rail and a couple of milk crates.
Video: Vin Tage does her make-up. Casually dressed, he unravels lace and flattens yellow Australia Post tape along his work bench.
Audio: Vin Tage: I'm marching this Sunday with the Australia Post team, the Post Pride. I feel quite strongly about Pride marches and I said, "Hey, can I make my own dress and do you have any satchels?"
Video: Bulging yellow, red and white satchels are piled on furniture. He stuffs feathers into a large satchel.
Audio: The most challenging part was actually filling the bags. Feathers were everywhere. Just absolutely insane.
Video: A dressmakers model wears a large red bodice with a pointed front and a square back. A towering curly white wig is made of tall bubble wrap rolls and 'curls' of small tight bubble wrap scrolls. It's adorned with pleated satchels. He glues on another scroll.
Audio: Vin Tage: This is actually a yoga mat which I got from an op shop for $3. I'm thinking of adding maybe a beaded trim or something. You know, a little bit of pizzazz. Sometimes you spend hours making these costumes. This one, days.
Video: Vin Tage applies a broad layer of orange eye shadow and adds more black to the beard, then fans the make-up with a feather fan.
Audio: Vin Tage: It takes me about three hours to do my face. I'm not as quick as some of these other queens that are just bam and they're out the door.
Video: A man slips a huge skirt made of layers of satchel pillows over Vin Tage's head. Vin Tage slips on huge puffy bubble wrap sleeves with Australia Post tape cuffs, long red gloves, and fastens the red yoga mat bodice. The man puts the towering bubble wrap wig on Vin Tage's head. Crystal beads dangle along the hairline.
Audio: Vin Tage: Pride, for me, celebrates what we've got and how far we've come, and there's still leaps and bounds, obviously, for the future, but we are marching for everybody and we are standing up for everybody's rights. So we're really excited about that.
Video: Wearing the gown and make-up but not the wig, Vin Tage shuffles along a corridor and squeezes out a door into a garden.
Audio: Vin Tage: When someone smiles at what I'm wearing or doing, it makes me smile and I think, "Right, I'm on the right track."
Video: In full regalia Vin Tage sashays down a suburban road. Her full-length red and white satchel pillow skirt is topped with a wide brown belt. Her red gloves are bright against the billowing bubble wrap sleeves. Her enormous ruff is made of small red and white satchel pillows. The towering white bubble wrap wig is adorned with pleated yellow and white satchels. The gown's train is yellow and white satchel pillows. A cyclist rings his bell as he rides past.
The Australia Post logo appears on a red screen.
If you saw Daniel Theophanou (whose pronouns are he/him as Daniel or she/her as Vin Tage) in his ‘normal’ clothes, you’d find it hard to believe it's the same person that was strutting under our PostPride banner for Midsumma Pride, dressed head to toe in Australia Post mailing satchels.
Growing up in the coastal city of Wollongong, NSW, Daniel always jumped at the chance to dress up or put on the odd performance. After learning to sew when he was 12 years old, Daniel had no idea where their sewing skills and love for fashion would take off.
Fast forward to 2018 when Vin Tagè was born—a drag queen alter ego inspired by a love for vintage fashion and admiration of other creatives. Today, Daniel spends their time adorned in home-made, head-turning outfits while out and about hosting events and advocating for the LGBTIQA+ community.
Reuse, Recycle, Re-slay
With plenty of help from his mother Eileen, Daniel makes all their outfits for their drag queen alter ego. And with the outfits come opportunities to engage with communities, advocate for minority groups, and celebrate this unique part of himself, one extravagant frock at a time.
Reuse, Recycle, Re-slay might as well be Vin Tagè’s motto. From tinsel to tennis balls, Vin Tagè has even used dead bees to adorn a wig for Halloween (don’t worry, the bees were sourced from an old hive and died naturally).
“I love making things, being creative, opp-shopping,” Vin Tage says, “I’ve made an outfit out of a rug, bin liners. It just evolved from that.”
One of Vin Tagè’s most epic upcycle projects was with an old Miss Australia campaign dress, originally made with Australian flags, Vin Tagè added a proud collar adorned in the colours of the Aboriginal flag. That's the beauty of Vin Tagè and her wardrobe; she has the ability to communicate messages through a visual medium that is bold and playful, and can reach a wide audience.
A symbol for diversity and inclusion in Australia
Celebrating diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It's also about proudly advocating for diversity and inclusion in Australia and welcoming and supporting people of any sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
With their endless creative fashion statements, Vin Tagè is one of the best dressed symbols for diversity and inclusion in Australia. The child of a Greek immigrant, Vin Tage has been using their platform and creative expression to celebrate diversity and advocate for the LGBTIQA+ community.
“Sometimes you spend hours making these costumes. On this one day, it may take me about three hours to do my face,” Vin Tage says. But it’s all worth it in the end. “When someone smiles at what I'm wearing or doing, it makes me smile and I think right, I'm on the right track.”
Vin Tagè combines forces with PostPride
Australia Post was lucky enough to have Vin Tagè march with us under our PostPride banner for the Midsumma Pride March in 2021 and 2022.
When we spoke to Daniel he said, “I feel quite strongly about pride marches. Pride for me, celebrates what we’ve got and how far we’ve come and there's still leaps and bounds obviously for the future, but we are marching for everybody, and we are standing up for everybody's rights.”
It was only natural that Vin Tage conjured up the most unique outfit for both marches—Australia Post themed, of course. Made up of 450 satchels and 2 kilos of glue, the outfit took over a week to make. With a bubble wrap wig, Australia Post satchel dress and express post train cascading behind her, Vin Tagè was the ultimate package.
“The most challenging part was actually filling the bags. Feathers were everywhere,” Vin Tage says.
Delivering a sustainable future for all Australians
Delivering a sustainable future for all Australians