Examining Queen Bey’s Fashion Legacy

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Queen B reigns supreme at the forefront of pop culture, music, and now, fashion. From Black berets and striking headdresses, to tulle gowns and sleek bodysuits, more often than not Beyoncé’s wardrobe pays homage to Black histories and cultures. The bold looks across her latest visual album, Black Is King, are just another testament to the inclusion and empowerment that informs her fashion choices. With the help of her talented stylists and team, she uses her platform to consistently amplify and spotlight designers and narratives across the Black diaspora. Beit through her daily fits on instagram and regal costumes in music videos, or her own athleisure brand Ivy Park, the multi-hyphenate creative disrupts whitewashed fashion and stands strong in her distinguishable sense of style. Join CR for a breakdown of Mrs. Carter’s influential and revered fashion.

From her Destiny’s Child days to solo stardom, Beyoncé has endured a dramatic style evolution. In the early years of her career, alongside her fellow girl group member, she opted for bedazzled bra tops or matching denim outfits. Designed by her mother Tina Knowles, she wore looks that sent a message of solidarity. Whether they were silk and sparkling gowns or their emerald green embroidered outfits at the 2001 Grammy Awards, she always drew inspiration from the old Motown girl groups like the Supremes.

As Beyoncé became a solo star, she traded the a group image for a more personalized look, turning to the runways and beyond for designs that honed her inner power. Highly acclaimed stylist Marni Senofonte re-invented the Insta look for many of her clients, including Bey. She has dressed the singer into becoming one of the most powerful visual influencers in contemporary culture. Senofonte was the curator behind Beyoncé’s iconic Lemonade era fits. Her portfolio includes styling for the “7/11” and “Feeling Myself” music videos, the Super Bowl Performance as well as Lemonade, the visual album. Senofonte’s picks for the hour long cinematic feature became characters in their own right, from the ruffled yellow “Carmen Jones” flamenco dress she dons while wielding a baseball bat to car windows to the regal headpiece she adorned surrounded by flickering flames; fashion was delivered in full force.

The trusted stylist drew inspiration from African influences and heritage, fusing the southern environment in Louisiana with Victorian and “regal African” motifs, in garments grounding the album’s tribute to Black women everywhere. Beyoncé reclaims narratives and inverts harmful histories through her fashion choices such as featuring Victorian-style dresses on Black women in the Madewood Plantation scene that were historically worn by wealthy White slave-owner women. The series of vignettes included famous luxury brands and unknown designers alike, packed with historical references and vintage pieces that support the music and message packaged into a personal aesthetic statement.

Credited with the star’s stunning style transformation, Zerina Akers was the stylist and costume designer behind Beyoncé’s latest Afrocentric fashion moment in the Black Is King visual album. Responsible for the artist’s recent foray into African fashion, Akers has simultaneously elevated her client’s style and put a number of rising African designers on the map. Her range and depth when it comes to finding clothes is complemented by Beyoncé’s reach, inciting a phenomenon of visibility for emerging talent. Giving credit, where credit is due, the singer gave an endearing shout out to the creative minds behind some of her breathtaking ensembles from her trip to South Africa back in 2018. “Thank you to the African designers who kept me feeling fresh. Y’all go so hard,” she wrote.

The overarching sentiment in the stylist/singer duo’s fashion choices is amplifying representation and inclusivity, which ultimately sets them apart, but most importantly ahead of their industry counterparts. From a classic blue Balmain gown and Destiny Bleu bedazzled catsuit, to Bantu knots and Fulani braids, the clothing and accessories in her third visual album were vessels of celebration for Black culture. The carefully curated wardrobe consistently amplifies the voices and the visibility of Black designers who have since been sought out by celebrities and superstars alike. Among these designers are Lafalaise Dion, Tongoro and Ena Udemba, that now frequent her day-to-day looks. Mrs. Carter is also responsible for spotlighting the likes of fashion favorites such as Alexandre Vauthier and Marine Serre.

The 39-year-old singer continues to disrupt whitewashed fashion with her own brand, Ivy Park. Redefining athleisure and style with her latest drop with sportswear giant Adidas–dubbed “Drip 2”–which is more inclusive than ever, featuring an extensive range of sizes from XXXS to 4X, with gender neutral garments in the spotlight. Globally available from November 18, the collection features cropped blazers in pastel colorways and sheer sleek silhouettes, championing representation, artistry and style. The latest collection is as affordable as its predecessor, January’s release the first of her partnership Adidas ranged from for accessories to 0 for outerwear, and included structured bodice unitards alongside bold hues; the first step towards a seemingly bright future for the brand.

Christmas came a little early for the BeyHive. On Nov. 17 Beyoncé delivered Ivy Park x Adidas Drip 2.2 Black Pack collection, offering yet another impressive range of avant-garde sports and casualwear. The eagerly awaited drop includes mesh tights, cut-out sports bras, bodysuits, and long-sleeve corsets, as well as gender-neutral pieces such as hoodies, pajama tops, track suits and a reversible jacket. Over the past week, Bey has been teasing the release on social media, sharing photos and videos of herself serving looks in the striking designs.

In an interview earlier this year, the singer spoke to growing fluidity around masculinity. She said that diversity and inclusion go beyond race. “For me, it is all about amplifying the beauty in all of us,” the Black Is King director said. “We are living in a beautiful time of real progression towards acceptance.” After buying Ivy Park back from British retailer Topshop, in November 2018, Beyoncé remains the first Black woman to own 100% of an athleisure brand.

Queen Bey has established herself as a dominant force in the fashionscape. With a team of forward-thinking creatives to back her vision, Beyoncé’s genre-bending approaches to fashion embody how it can be used as a tool for representation and empowerment. You can find a directory of Black-owned and African-owned businesses to support on her site.

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