Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beyoncé: Fierce, Fearless, Female

Beyoncé on the power of fashion and the seven looks that shaped her career.

July 2011

Beyonce W cover story

Beyoncé wears Louis Vuitton’s silk top, cashmere shorts, hat, and mask; Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci’s silk satin bra. Lorraine Schwartz’s earrings, ­David Yurman’s ring.

“When I sing a song,” Beyoncé Knowles said, as her car went from the photo studio to the recording studio, where she was deciding the final cuts for her new album, “I definitely have the image for the video in my mind. I kind of hear the choreography that will be in the video, and I can see how I’ll look, even before anyone—the record company, the director—has heard the song.” Beyoncé, who was speaking to me by phone, was interrupted. Her life in the last month, judging by the weeks of delays and canceled dates before our phone conversation could, at long last, take place, was a jam-packed series of planned and unplanned activities: photo shoots for the covers of magazines; a video shoot for the new single “Run the World (Girls)”; glam appearances at events like the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala, where she was booed for not spending enough time on the red carpet. “My friend is coming over to the car with her baby,” Beyoncé told me now. “I don’t want to be rude.” I agreed to be put on hold. The line went dead. “I’m so sorry,” Beyoncé said, when she called back 10 minutes later. “That was a first for me. I’m sure it was for you, too.” She laughed softly.

Frankly, I was prepared to be annoyed (our interview was set for 4:00, and it was now 7:30; I’d been staring at the phone for hours), but Beyoncé, who has a mix of inten­sity and girlish Southern charm (she grew up in Texas), is instantly compelling. During her 18-year ­career, which began when she was 12 years old with ­Destiny’s Child, she has hardly been out of the spotlight, and yet she has the zeal and drive of a beginner with something to prove. “I wanted this record to come from a raw place,” Beyoncé continued. “Playing Etta James in the movie ­Cadillac Records really changed me. It was a darker character, and I realized that if anything is too comfortable, I want to run from it. It’s no fun being safe.”

Beyoncé’s little-seen performance as James was remark­able—she was no longer the perfect Beyoncé. As James, who sang the blues and was addicted to drugs, she was complex and haunted. That performance may have inspired Clint Eastwood to cast her in his soon-to-be-filmed adaptation of A Star Is Born, in which she will play a singer on the rise who falls in love with a famous ­actor in decline. “Oh, my God,” Beyoncé exclaimed. “That scares me the most.”

Before that movie starts filming, there’s the new ­album to finish. On the six tracks I heard, the beats are more jagged and deeper than on previous albums. In one song she berates an ex-lover (“It sucks to be you right now”), and in another, celebrates losing a not-good-enough man (“Thank God you blew it/Thank God I dodged a bullet”). Her voice has more rasp, more raunch, but there’s also an instant-classic power ballad that swells with ­female empowerment. “The fans have named the album 4,” ­Beyoncé explained. “And four is my favorite number. It’s an important number in my life: the date of my birthday, my mom’s birthday, my husband’s birthday, the day I got married. Barack Obama is the 44th president, and I performed ‘At Last’ by Etta James at his inauguration.”

In honor of that fourth solo album, we asked ­Beyoncé to pick some images from her post–Destiny’s Child career that illustrate her ever evolving persona. “All these images have something in common,” Beyoncé said. “In my videos I always want to be a powerful woman. That’s my mission.”

Hair by Kimberly Kimble for Margaret Maldonado; makeup by Francesca Tolot for Cloutier Remix/Dior Beauty; manicure by Lisa Logan for S. Murray Management. Fashion: Louis Vuitton’s silk top, cashmere shorts, hat, and mask; Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci’s silk satin bra. Lorraine Schwartz’s earrings, ­David Yurman’s ring. Beauty: L’Oréal Paris Magic Smooth Soufflé makeup in Classic Tan; Studio Secrets Professional The One Sweep Sculpting Blush Duo in Poppy; HiP Concentrated Shadow Duo in Mischief; Voluminous Million Lashes mascara in Black; Infallible Le Rouge Lipstick in Perpetual Peach.

The artist comments on the seven looks that shaped her career.


“Crazy in Love” (2003)

“I had just turned 21, and this was my first solo video. I wanted to be a female version of James Dean and wear an iconic white T-shirt and jean shorts. I always think about wearing something a fan could buy and make her own; as a young girl I remember seeing so many artists, and then I’d try to dress like them. I sewed zippers on my jackets to be like Michael Jackson.

I’m wearing red pumps in the video. As a child I trained myself to dance in very high heels. At 13, in Destiny’s Child, we were told to wear heels, but at first we couldn’t walk in them. We couldn’t keep our knees straight. But we learned, and that became the image of Destiny’s Child: so young and so glamorous. Now I have a rule that my dancers have to wear their heels when I’m wearing my heels. They say, ‘Please take your shoes off, Beyoncé.’ At home, I’m always barefoot. And I have a heavy walk without heels. When they hear me thumping through the house, they say, ‘Oh—Beyoncé’s up!’”


“DEjA Vu” (2006)

“We shot this in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina, and the choreography was almost tribal in my mind. There’s something spiritual about Louisiana, where my family is from, and I thought of Josephine Baker. She had a way of dancing that was almost possessed. I used her as a reference and combined her with Brigitte Bardot. My hair, the bustier: It’s very Bardot. I love to mix things that you wouldn’t put together—like Baker and Bardot. They both had that French influence, which is really strong in Louisiana.”


Sasha Fierce album art (2008)

“I’m wearing a gold-plate breastplate by José Barrera. It was difficult to put my arms down, which is why they are up in the picture. The gold handpiece was made for me—it’s kind of like my futuristic Michael Jackson glove.

Sasha Fierce was born during the ‘Crazy in Love’ video. I’m naturally a shy person, and I was used to performing in a group, where it’s about female camaraderie—we were all going through the same things at the same time. As Sasha Fierce, I was on my own. It was about letting go, about showing my sensuality in a new way: I became Sasha Fierce.”


“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2008)

“My mom made the one-shouldered bodysuits the night before the video. Again, I wanted to wear something that any fan could wear. I’m obsessed with Bob Fosse, and I always saw the look of this video as very simple, very Fosse-inspired. It was one of the hottest days on record in New York, and we didn’t know it at the time, but we were shooting in an old porn studio. I began to get suspicious because every dressing room had a theme. I was in the jungle room, and I realized they had made a porno in there. There was no air-conditioning in the studio and that added to the drama—we were shiny and sweaty.”


“Telephone” (with Lady Gaga) (2010)

“Gaga is my girl! I’m her biggest fan. When I first saw her perform, I actually called her and said, ‘You are great!’ That was before her popularity hit, and we had a natural connection. Later, she asked me to do her video, and I said, ‘I trust you, Gaga. I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ I played a bad, bad girl. When I put on the Bettie Page wig, I got into the character. I started researching Bettie Page and tried to channel her pinups and poses. The video ended up being very much like Quentin Tarantino’s movies. He gave us his blessing, even loaned us the car with pussy wagon written on the side from Kill Bill. My mom said, ‘Do you have to use that car?’”


“Why Don’t You Love Me” (2010)

“I was still thinking about Bettie Page, and wanted to do something that was inspired by her. This video was a secret: I paid for and codirected it and didn’t tell my label or my management. The clothes and jewelry are from my closet, the wigs are mine, and I did my own makeup. We did eight looks in one day in this great house that belonged to a producer who worked with Dorothy Dandridge. He had pictures of her on the wall, so her spirit is in the video, too. I love Super 8 film and wanted to get those saturated colors. It’s a different drama—the tears and martinis and cigarettes. I wanted to channel the past for the present.”


“Run the World (Girls)” (2011)

“This is the power stand, the next chapter of my life. I do this job because it makes me high and inspires people. In the video, most of all I wanted to show that I’m proud to be a woman. I had read about powerful African men who have hyenas as pets, and I wanted to create a world where women run the world, so in the video I have these hyenas as pets. I’m wearing a Givenchy Couture gown and I’m holding these crazy hyenas. There’s dirt on the dress, but I’m still pure and regal. I wanted to push the theatrics to make a point: Women rule.”


  1. Ρrеtty сomponent of contеnt.
    I just stumbled upon your site and in accеssiοn capital to ѕay that I acquiгe in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.

    Any way I ωill be subscribing in your feeds and
    even I success уou get right of еntry to consistentlу

    My homepage ... instant loans
    My website :: instant loans

  2. I thіnκ the аdmin of thiѕ sitе
    iѕ аctuаlly worκіng hard in suρport of hіs websіtе,
    because here еveгy information іѕ quаlity based ѕtuff.

    mу web ѕitе: payday loans uk

  3. After сhecking out a hаndful of the blоg
    articles on youг website, Ι tгuly appreсiate
    your tеchnique of blоggіng. I savеd as а fаvorite
    it to my bοokmaгk site list аnd wіll bе
    сhecking bаck іn the near futurе.

    Please visit my web site аѕ well anԁ let me know how yоu feel.

    Revieω mу blog :: payday loans

  4. Good post. I аm gοing through a few of theѕe
    iѕѕueѕ aѕ wеll..

    Look into my weblοg; New Bingo Sites

  5. What's up i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this piece of writing i thought i could also create comment due to this brilliant post.

    my weblog :: payday loans


As is implied and emphatically stated, this blog is in regards to the lack of talent and all that is the boring cloned puppet rihanna. If it upsets you...... TOUGH...... jaw juggle some ballz bitchez. :-) feel free to comment