ICYMI: Beyoncé did her thing, and 1000% more after opening the 2016 BET Awards with that 'Freedom' performance alongside Kendrick Lamar, and her female army.
And true to form, Bey had the perfect armour to stomp around the stage, and wade through the water, in.
The mastermind behind that black fringe bodysuit? The master of red carpet glamour: Julien Macdonald. Grazia Daily caught up with the designer to the stars to talk Skype calls with Queen Bey, working with Tina Knowles and the inspiration behind that iconic BET look…
Hi Julien! That custom-made bodysuit you created for Beyoncé was ah-mazing - talk me through the concept...
I was approached by Beyoncé and her stylist Marni [Senofonte]. They asked me if I’d be interested in designing a few things for various appearances throughout the next year and for the Formation tour and the Superbowl. It all started with the Superbowl…we designed an outfit for her and on the day she [Marni] was like "yeah she loves it, she’s definitely going to wear it" and then because of the way her hair was she couldn’t, they were like "I’m sorry we have to go with another option", I thought, "Oh no, but I thought I had it!" [laughs].
What was the inspiration behind the BET awards bodysuit?
I work with Beyoncé on her outfits over Skype – it’s kind of funny like ‘Hey, how are you?!’ But you know, she’s very opinionated about what she wants. She said to me: "I want you to think of Africa, and something I could wear dancing to an African beat". It’s a bodysuit with about 30,000 black caviar Swarovski crystals. The imagery on the body itself is taken from African tattoos and body paint, and then it’s got a silk and Swarovski fringe. It takes up to 3 weeks to create something like this – night and day working on it.
Did you know she’d be wearing it for that particular performance?
Sometimes I can make her things and never know what she’ll be wearing it for – like the BET awards, which was top secret. I thought it was for the tour, but then they kept asking me questions of how to treat it if it got wet. I was watching it on TV and I fell off my chair like "Wow, she’s got it on!"
That must have been such a wonderful feeling?
Definitely. She is the biggest superstar in the world. She’s a strong, powerful, confident woman. It’s amazing when you see her dancing and moving in your designs – I also created the gold bodysuit she wore to the European opening of her Formation tour, that was covered in about 70,000 Swarovski crystals and 24 Carat
gold embroidered components. Everyone who works with Beyoncé knows she loves fashion and she decides what she wants to wear - it's just dependent on what she’s feeling…
When did you two first meet?
I met her backstage on a few of her tours with her mum. I started my relationship with her [Beyoncé] working with her mum [Tina Knowles] because she used to style her for everything. That’s how it all started, about 10 years ago now. I’ve got a long standing relationship with her – she flew me once to South of France to see her once.
How would you say Beyonce’s style has evolved?
I think she’s always wanted to portray a strong, confident, glamourous woman but the way that she dresses is reflective of the music and what she’s writing. It’s very much inspired by the Black Panther Movement - very strong, liberating and tough.