Carson Kressley: Details About The Designer And TV Star

Carson Kressley burst onto the television scene in 2003 as one of five stars on the reality TV series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." The premise was both simple yet something that had never been done before: in each episode, a different style- and fashion-challenged straight male is provided the tutelage of five gay men, style experts in their particular fields, who provide said guy with a multifaceted makeover designed to bring out his inner fashionista while also boosting his confidence. 

Kressley proved to be a standout among co-stars Thom Filicia, Ted Allen, Jai Rodriguez, and Kyan Douglas, while the feel-good nature of the show propelled it to become a surprise out-of-the-box hit. As The Advocate pointed out back in 2003, the series raked in record ratings when it premiered on the Bravo cable channel, leading NBC (which is under the same corporate umbrella as Bravo) to capitalize on the show's popularity by airing it in primetime on network television.  

After the show ended its run in 2007, Kressley remained a sought-after television personality. He starred in numerous subsequent shows, including "Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants," "How to Look Good Naked," "True Beauty," "Carson Nation," "Couched with Carson Kressley," and, of course, his more current role as fan-favorite judge on "RuPaul's Drag Race" and its various iterations and spinoffs. Keep on reading to learn more details about designer and TV star Carson Kressley.

The Queer Eye alum got his start with Ralph Lauren

Carson Kressley's sense of fashion is apparently something that he's always possessed, even as a child. "Style has always kind of been my thing," Kressley explained during a 2016 interview with BUILD Series, recalling how, at age seven, he helped his older sister pick out the prom dress that led her to be named prom queen. "I've always been that annoying kid who was telling people what to wear," he admitted. 

After graduating from Gettysburg College in 1991, Kressley headed to New York City and eventually landed a job working for Ralph Lauren. "It was like 'The Devil Wears Prada,' except everyone was really nice and preppy," he quipped. Working as the assistant to Lauren's brother, Jerry Lauren, Kressley's duties ranged from fetching sardine sandwiches to scheduling appointments. And while that may not sound particularly stylish, becoming immersed in the operations of one of the world's top fashion designers was nonetheless revelatory. "I really got a great education at Ralph Lauren about the finer points of style," he told the BUILD Series.

During an appearance on 69News WFMZ-TV years later, Kressley made no bones about how important his years working for Ralph Lauren were to his future success. "I had such a great time there when I worked there, it was super fun, super impactful on my career, and obviously I'm still into it," he said, gesturing to the "mostly Ralph" ensemble he was wearing at that moment.

Carson Kressley is a serious equestrian

Carson Kressley grew up around horses and began equestrian training early. "I have been riding and showing American Saddlebred horses since I was a kid," he told Sophisticated Living. "I think they are God's most beautiful creatures, and the partnership you can create with a horse is just magic. ... Plus, the clothes are fun!!!" Kressley further revealed to horse magazine Sidelines that his grandparents — who lived next door — owned a large pony farm and had an endless supply of horses at his disposal. "I was very lucky that I was raised in a horsey family," he said. 

As Kressley has become more successful, and the accompanying stress that can bring, he'd found riding horses to be both grounding and soul-restoring. "I think anyone who's been around horses knows that they require you to kind of be still and focus, to really concentrate on them," he explained. "That's a great balance in the high-stress, high-travel world that I work in."

In fact, the star has managed to retain his passion for participating in equestrian competitions. "Whenever there's a moment that I can squeeze in a horse show or some time at the farm, I do," he said. However, Kressley also conceded that the time to ease back from riding competitively might be drawing near. "As I get older, the sport's not as easy because it does require a level of athleticism," he added. "But I find the time where I can and jump right back into it."

The 10 things Carson Kressley can't live without

As someone who's reputation has been built on being ultra-stylish, there are several things with which Carson Kressley will not do without. He listed 10 of them in an interview with Sophisticated Living. His first pick shouldn't be surprising, given his well-reported equestrian abilities: horses. Other necessities of living include good books, the beach, his family and friends, and New York City itself. 

Others he mentioned were French fries, antiquing, giving back, Shelter magazine, and baths. His love for the latter, he explained, was something of a more recent acquisition for him. "Ever since I competed on 'Dancing With the Stars,' I discovered the healing and relaxing effects of a nice hot bath," Kressley said. "I then read an article about my imaginary boyfriend and design legend, Tom Ford, and he said he takes three baths a day! I take about two per day — morning and night — but I hope to work up to three someday just like Tom!"

Discussing how he likes to unwind and relax with Apartment Therapy, Kressley continued to wax rhapsodic about his affinity for relaxing in a hot, soothing bath. "I have a huge Kohler soaking tub, and it's my favorite thing in my apartment," he revealed. To ramp up the level of TLC, the star added, "There's nothing better than champagne in the bathtub."

Carson Kressley's an ordained minister

Among the many accolades that Carson Kressley has achieved — including a 2004 Emmy Award for his work on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" — he has another role that not many of his fans are aware of: he's also an ordained minister. In fact, Kressley is one of the many celebrities to be a minister in the Universal Life Church, having revealed his ordainment to viewers during a 2006 episode of "Queer Eye."

Becoming a minister in this particular church doesn't require any divinity training, merely the ability to fill out a form. Having been ordained, Kressley and his fellow Universal Life Church ministers are authorized to preside over weddings and funerals. In fact, as Kressley explained to Windy City Times of that same episode, "I got licensed to do a wedding on 'Queer Eye' in Vegas, but I think I'm only licensed in Nevada."

Kressley is in excellent company. According to the church's website, other celebrity Universal Life Church ministers include British hitmaker Adele, rapper Cardi B, and superstar Lady Gaga, in addition to the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Barbra Streisand, George Takei, and all four Beatles.

A quickly cancelled reality show led him to RuPaul's Drag Race

Following the run of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Carson Kressley has wound up appearing in a number of celebrity-themed reality competitions, including "Dancing With the Stars," "The Celebrity Apprentice," "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" and "Celebrity Big Brother." Since 2015, he's also been a judge on the award-winning "RuPaul's Drag Race" and its various iterations.

Interestingly, it was one of the more obscure credits in his IMDb profile that landed him the "Drag Race" gig. While appearing on "Big Brother" in 2022, Kressley revealed that he never would have joined "Drag Race" had he not reluctantly agreed to be a judge on a short-lived body-painting show called "Skin Wars." "The mantra is to say 'yes' to some things, even if people say you shouldn't do it," said Kressley of his decision to appear on a show about which he was dubious.

What clinched the decision were the other judges, Rebecca Romijn and RuPaul. He'd worked with Romijn before and gotten along well. Plus, he added, "I always wanted to meet Ru, so I was just like, 'I'll go do this.' And on that set, he said, 'Why aren't you doing my show?' and I was like, 'I don't know, did you guys ask? ... I would love to,' and then he called me on my cell phone, and I still have the message, and that was eight years ago."

He has one major regret from his time on Celebrity Big Brother

As previously mentioned, Carson Kressley joined the cast of "Celebrity Big Brother" in 2022, alongside such fellow celebs as "Saturday Night Live" alum Chris Kattan, *NSYNC member Chris Kirkpatrick, model and reality star Shanna Moakler, "Diff'rent Strokes" star Todd Bridges, former NBA player Lamar Odom, and "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Teddi Mellencamp. While Kressley didn't win, he did make it to the final six before being eliminated.

In an exit interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kressley blamed being voted off on his own "sheer stupidity," admitting he could have boned up on the game a lot more than he had. "I just did not prepare and do enough research on how to play this game," he admitted. That explained how he allowed himself to get manipulated to send home Moakler while he was Head of Household, something he told EW was "the only thing I regret about the show."

So broken up was Kressley by his betrayal of Moakler that he subsequently issued a lengthy apology via Instagram that February. "I NEVER should have assumed she was playing me. Shame on me ! I am sorry I trusted others who I thought were friends but only intended to dupe me for their own benefit. I turned against not only Shanna, but my own values of friendship," he wrote in part. Moakler accepted the apology in her own Instagram post, and another reality show hatchet was officially buried.

Carson Kressley has two clothing lines

Given Carson Kressley's background as a stylist and the years he spent working with Ralph Lauren, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that he's entered the world of fashion by launching his own clothing line — or, to be more precise, lines, since Kressley actually has two fashion brands, each very different from the other. 

He launched the first, Perfect, in 2006. As WWD reported, he introduced the line in a two-hour TV slot — in primetime, no less — for the QVC home shopping channel. "It's all the great basics women should have in their wardrobe, but surprisingly don't," Kressley told WWD of his Perfect fashion line. "We didn't invent anything crazy and different, but we revitalized the basics and made them perfect."

While Perfect was a, well, perfect match with QVC due to its focus on casual, inexpensive clothing and accessories, his second brand is more high-end with a focus on formality. "This time he switches the focus from casual essentials to more glittering items for going out, partying and attending evening events," his website has noted of the brand Love, Carson, which "features lots of glittering pieces as well as embroidered floral patterns to make the clothes more fancy-looking and rich."

He's also written several books

In the midst of all his other ventures, Carson Kressley is also the author of several books. His first book, in fact, was a New York Times bestseller: "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," the 2004 book based on the TV show, which he co-authored with co-stars Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, and Jai Rodriguez.

The following year, Kressley struck out on his own with his first solo book, "Off the Cuff: The Guys' Guide to Looking Good." Discussing the book with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Kressley explained that he was continuing the mission that started in the TV show. "I want to help straight guys develop a sense of personal style," he said, adding, "I'm interested in taking the intimidation and fear out of fashion and convincing straight men that shopping should be fun."

In 2016, Kressley unveiled his next book, "Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big?" As he told Dolce, the book was about more than just style, but was also meant to help women build their own self-confidence when it comes to fashion. "If you don't feel good in your own skin, you're never going to feel great in your clothes," he said. "Focus on what's working for you and the things about your body that you love; maximize the positives and downplay the negatives." Kressley previously took his literary ambitions in a whole new direction with "You're Different and That's Super," a children's book featuring a pony that celebrates uniqueness.

Carson Kressley once dated an NFL player

Carson Kressley hasn't been one to share much about his personal life, but he did reveal he was single when he appeared on ABC's "The Celebrity Dating Game" in 2021. "I was gung-ho because I need to find a man, and I never turn down a television appearance," he told USA Today of why he decided to appear on the show. "So those two, in tandem, made me do it."

However, it's not like he hasn't revealed some tantalizing tidbits about his love life over the years. That was the case back in 2016 when he dropped quite the revelation to TMZ when he was asked to comment on the stereotype that gay men are terrible at football. "What? That's insane," he said indignantly, and then dropped a bombshell. "I once went out with a football player who was actually in the Super Bowl — so there." Not only did Kressley confirm that the player was openly gay, but he also identified him by name: Esera Tuaolo, who played in the NFL from 1991 until 1999, and competed in Super Bowl XXXIII while playing for the Atlanta Falcons.

He didn't come out to his parents until he was cast in Queer Eye

Carson Kressley has known he's gay since was five. "In first grade, people would say, 'Don't you love the '[Six] Million Dollar Man,' and I was like, 'Yes, very much.' I had a crush on Lee Majors," he told the Daily Beast. The star also recalled attempting to come out to his parents at age seven. "Let's see how second grade goes," his skeptical mom told him at the time. 

Kressley made his second attempt at coming out to his folks decades later — after he'd been cast in "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." "My mom and dad were like, 'You're quitting your job at Ralph Lauren to do what?' I'd say, 'Oh, it's a TV show. They haven't even come up with a name yet.' My friends [and my sister] were like, 'You have to tell your family you're gay.'"

When he finally did reveal his sexuality and that he was about to be on TV in a show that had "queer" in its title, Kressley continued to try to soften the blow just a little. "I told them I was doing this new show and they were like 'What's it called?' I'm like, 'It doesn't have a name yet, it's the untitled makeover show,'" he explained while appearing on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" as reported by the Daily Mail.

Carson Kressley is big on luxury

Carson Kressley has a special relationship with opulence. "I love a good luxury destination whether it's Neiman Marcus, I'll just go there for lunch sometimes, or a beautiful resort," he said in an interview with Medium, admitting, "I'm dying to go to Lake Como." As Kressley explained, his success on television has made him both wealthier and busier than ever, so when he does indulge in the rare opportunity to take vacation, he's not averse to splurging. "I have a short period of time, so I want them to be really, really good," the star said of his vacations. "I think luxury is not necessarily about being fancy, but it's about being well taken care of."

Kressley's appreciation of luxury came through when he hosted a tour of a $27-million historic equestrian estate in Virginia for Circa Houses in August 2022. Given that the home was both oozing luxury and designed to accommodate numerous horses, it's a no-brainer that Kressley would fall in love with the place. "I feel like I could really be a very successful lady of the manor," he quipped while admiring the posh surroundings.

His crossover pitch between the new Queer Eye and the original cast

"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" ran from 2003 until 2007, becoming a global phenomenon along the way. More than a decade later, Netflix launched a new reboot in 2018. Titled simply "Queer Eye," the show introduced a new "Fab Five" to provide feel-good makeovers. The show, like its predecessor, became an instant hit that made stars out of Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, and Tan France.

In a sit-down with Us Weekly, Carson Kressley offered a genius idea that would bring the OG "Queer Eye" crew together with the new gang and see each cast doing competing makeovers. "We would actually be making over two houses and two different guys — it could be simultaneous," he said, adding, "Netflix, if you're watching ..."

At the time, Kressley figured that the new "Queer Eye" had been around long enough that the show had established itself and its cast as its own standalone entity and was no longer being compared to the original. "Now I think maybe it could," said Kressley of why he felt the timing was right for a two-cast crossover. "It could be fun. It could be a charity thing or something," he added. "Like, why not?" 

Carson Kressley credits his mother for his keen sense of style

Carson Kressley's sense of style has been with him for a long time. Interviewed by the Daily Beast, he recalled his school picture from second grade. "There I am, a '70s recipe for 'fabulosity' or disaster, however you want to look at it," he said. "I even painted my nails that day, I think a magenta color. I just thought you should always get dressed for an occasion."

He also knows exactly where that seemingly innate style came from. "It comes from having a stylish mother. My mom wasn't some Paris fashion model. She was a local beauty queen from Pennsylvania. She was Miss Milk Maid, 1955, or something," Kressley said. While he admitted it would be a stretch to say his parents fully supported his fascination with fashion, he was ultimately left to go his own way. "It was never like, 'Take that nail polish off, you're going to get a spanking.' I just did what I did and nobody seemed to care," the star said.

Speaking with Sidelines, Kressley recalled growing up in the 1970s as "the last era where people dressed for different occasions." The lessons he learned by simply watching his mother put together different outfits for different occasions continue to influence his own approach to fashion. "Looking great and being stylish is about wearing the right clothes for the right venue," he explained.

Carson Kressley's weirdest date could have been deadly

Most people have gone on dates that they've later come to regret. Carson Kressley, however, probably has most people beat, given that he wound up going on one date that could have easily gone horribly wrong.

During a March 2022 appearance with Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live," Kressley was asked to recall his worst date, and he did not disappoint. "I did sleep with an axe murderer once," Kressley revealed, going on to quip, "But I made a great sandwich, and he loved me." He proceeded to tell the story, which took place back in the 1990s, in which he met a guy in a bar and invited him home. Kressley's sexy plans, however, did not unfold as he had expected. "When we got home, instead of doing what I thought we were going to be doing, he was like, 'I could really use a sandwich,'" Kressley recalled, admitting he was taken aback, but rolled with it. After Kressley made the sandwich, and his houseguest ate it, he promptly left. 

That, however, wasn't the end of the story. "Then the next day I saw his poster at a bar above a urinal, saying he was a wanted felon," Kressley revealed. "He'd been ... beating people up and robbing them, and I was like, 'Oh my god, I lived to tell!'"