UCA’s own Nymphia Wind
breezes to Drag Race final

University for the Creative Arts (UCA) fashion alum Nymphia Wind has reached the final of Season 16 of the worldwide phenomenon drag competition, RuPaul’s Drag Race.

09 Apr 2024

Nymphia, 27, who graduated from UCA in 2017 with a BA (Hons) in Fashion Atelier is in the final three alongside Plane Jane and Sapphira Cristal and will battle it out for the crown - and a prize of $200,000 - in a glittering finale in Los Angeles on April 19.

And in an encouraging sign, she won the final maxi challenge ahead of the final, in which the Queens had to write a memoir (Nymphia’s was titled Breaking Wind - The Art of Letting Go), pose for the cover and participate in a podcast interview. It was her third maxi challenge win of the contest.

Nymphia, is the competition’s first Taiwanese contestant, and qualified for the franchise’s flagship series by virtue of being born in Los Angeles. However, she chose UCA to pursue her fashion dreams – so if you studied Fashion Atelier between 2014 and 2017, you may have known her as Leo Tsao!

Leo Tsao, year two tailoring course at UCA

Leo Tsao, pictured for his final collection shoot at UCA in 2017.

It was during this time at UCA, that the very early stages of Nymphia perhaps was born, experimenting with drag – according to an interview with Taiwanese news service, CNA.

It became a full-time vocation only after returning to Taiwan after her studies and completing mandatory national service.

Over the course of the series, which aired in the UK on streaming service WOW Presents Plus, Nymphia has won hearts and minds with her incredible runway looks – many she made herself - and sense of humour, punctuated by her signature accessory, bananas!

Her previous maxi challenge wins were in week three with her incredible tie-inspired look for the Mother of all Balls, and then in Girl Groups week when she channelled her inner K-Pop idol. She also wowed the judges in the opening week’s talent show, showcasing Taiwanese culture with a traditional dance. And she’s never been in the bottom two!

But what of his time at UCA? Chip Harris, who taught Leo for the entirety of the course and helped manage their final collection, said: “Leo developed a great range of skills on the course and as a very conceptual thinker, he was always ambitious and individual in his approach. Leo’s graduate collection epitomised this, which demonstrated an exceptional technical and creative skillset which was also selected to show at Graduate Fashion Week.

“I am not surprised to see his ascension within the RuPaul's Drag Race universe, and it is good to see that he is using his skills to showcase amazing costumes, styling and visual narratives.”

Leo Tsao, GFW Graduate Collection, 2017

Leo’s final collection at Graduate Fashion Week, 2017

If you want to follow Nymphia’s fortunes, you can do so via her Instagram and website – and support her in the two weeks leading up to the final on your own social channels, using the #TeamNymphia hashtag.

And if you want to follow in her footsteps and explore fashion at UCA, you can check out our course pages.