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Battle of the Legends: Vogueing at the Met
Malik Mugler and Ty Ebonyphotography Benjamin Lozozsky

Inside the Met’s dazzling ‘Battle of the Legends’ vogueing competition

To celebrate Pride, Anna Wintour joined ballroom icons to judge a battle of glitz, glamour, and sweat

Fifth Avenue was set aflame as hundreds gathered at the footsteps of The Met to watch six icons of the ballroom scene in a vogue battle for the history books. Dubbed “Battle of the Legends: Vogueing at the Met,” this first-of-its-kind showcase was held to celebrate Pride and Costume Institute exhibit, Camp: Notes on Fashion — just hours before the season premier of season 2 of Pose.

“When we got to a ball, we will hug you but when its time to battle, it’s time to battle!” announced Jack Mizrahi, co-founder of House of Mizrahi, who emceed the evening’s festivities decked out in a custom-made mauve Dapper Dan ensemble complete with knee-high Gucci socks.

The competition was judged by no less than Vogue’s editor in chief, Anna Wintour, who donned a Versace “Vogue” print top and long red flowing skirt. Wintour was joined at the judges’ table by ballroom icons José Gutierrez-Xtravaganza, Father of the House of Xtravaganza; Sinia Alaia, overall mother of House of Alaïa; and the Legendary Mother Lola Mizrahi as well as queer icons Twiggy Pucci Garçon, executive producer of Kiki; Our Lady J, executive producer and writer for Pose; and Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters.

The competition for the title of “Legend Slayer” was fierce. Ballroom favourites Bootz Prodigy, Omari Mizrahi, Ty Ebony, Malik Miyake Mugler (replacing the originally announced Dashaun Lanvin), Asia Balenciaga and Tamiyah Miyake-Mugler took the stage in a series of three semi-final rounds before Malik Miyake Mugler and Asia Balenciaga faced off in the finals.

DJ Byrell The Great played vogue beats while ballroom MC Precious Ebony hyped the competitors, who took it to the floor with death drops, duckwalks, spins, flips, and hands that had the crowd going wild. They came to slay with customized ensembles that took your breath away. Capes and catsuits, thigh-high boots and bodysuits made each voguer a dazzling vision of glamour.

It was 10s across the board, with Malik Miyake Mugler ultimately named the winner. Miyake Mugler, who holds the title of King of the East, even brought a crown of his own, which he wore along with a custom-made white bodysuit, matching jodhpurs, and ankle boots, with glimmering jewels festooned to his chest like a natural born monarch.

“It was a dream to vogue for Anna Wintour,” Miyake Mugler says. “To be able to be in front of someone of her stature and showcase my talents has been amazing. For her to hand me that huge check and that enormous trophy in front of The Met was like, ‘Is this really happening?!’”

Miyake Mugler’s beatific smile revealed a deeper love the glowed from within. Throughout the battles he exuded grace and poise as well as a profound sense of kinship with his fellow voguers. During the semi-final round with Ty Ebony, Miyake Mugler placed his crown on his competitor’s head in a show of love, affection, and respect — a powerful reminder that these houses are families in and of themselves.

“It’s one of those moments where the art of our community is being given a platform to show our creativity,” he tells Dazed. “It’s long overdue. It’s art” –  José Gutierrez-Xtravaganza

“We’re all friends!” Miyake Mugler tells Dazed. “Me and my competitor were out earlier shopping together before we got here. It’s all love. You can feel it when you are in ballroom!”

Miyake Mugler has been voguing for a decade and a member of the ballroom culture for eight years. “We have stars, statements, legends, and icons,” he says. “What makes a legend is someone who has been walking for numerous years, who has been awarded by the ballroom scene, and has stamped their name on our culture. A lot of the competitors you saw tonight are all legends — aside from Ty and myself, who are statements. We are a step away from legends.”

Undoubtedly, Miyake Mugler’s win ensures he is on his way to achieving the recognition given to icons like Jose Guiterez Xtravaganza, who famously performed with Madonna in the video for “Vogue,” joined her on the Blonde Ambition tour and appears throughout the film Madonna: Truth or Date.

For Xtravangza, the opportunity to judge a vogue battle at The Met was deeply felt. “It’s one of those moments where the art of our community is being given a platform to show our creativity,” he tells Dazed. “It’s long overdue. It’s art. It’s well deserved and I’m so glad to be here to be a part of it. It’s like I’m living my history. It’s a very surreal moment.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Jack Mizrahi, who got his start during the 90s, “The world is giving the ballroom its due. Maybe it had been quiet after Madonna took it mainstream but it was always turning, it was always evolving, and that never stopped. It was always my mission to keep it going. I was fortunate to be around Pepper LaBeija, Willi Ninja, Paris Dupree, and I know where I want to take it in honor of them,” Mizrahi tells Dazed.

“Vogueing at the Met was such an extraordinary opportunity and a feeling but vogueing itself? It doesn’t matter where you vogue at – you can be in a small bedroom in your house. Today, getting dressed for this, I happened to play the music. I was really dressed and ready to go – but I just started vogueing out of nowhere because it happens! If the energy moves you, you’re going to do it!”