Queen Bey turns 40 today. Time, then, to sit back and take stock of the sheer number of sartorial knockouts the singer, and all round cultural icon, has managed orchestrate in her years at the top of the music game.
We’re talking metres of taffeta and countless sheers; diamante studded and sequins covered; emerald silk satins, fur trimmed corsets, flesh shade latex and an iridescent fringe; full morph suits and hot pants and heels; frills, fishnets, fingerless gloves and even Schiaparelli nails. You name it – Beyoncé’s done it. And always done it well.
The story began with Destiny’s Child, originally Girl’s Tyme, which came together in 1990 in Beyoncé Knowles’ hometown of Houston, Texas. Best known as a three, alongside Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, triple threat, trio dressing ruled. The results are a back catalogue of looks that define the hazy hey-day noughties style (from beads around waists to ab-friendly low rise jeans).
Having gone solo, marked with her 2003 debut album Dangerously in Love, Beyoncé set off on her high fashion climb. Bookmarking this style journey have been her Met Gala appearances, which started in 2008. The strapless, blush Armani Privé gown she opted for at her debut on the Met Museum steps was only the beginning, as onlookers bore witness to the rise and rise of Beyoncé’s glamour.
For the opening of the Met’s 2011’s ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibition, Beyoncé picked gold embroidered Roberto Cavalli, complete with a tulle, trumpet flounce and almond shape chest cut out. In 2015 she made a splash in Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy Couture which was nude save for patches of strategically placed floral embroidery.
Ty Hunter, the stylist behind many of Beyoncé’s most celebrated looks, is a regular with the star on the red carpet, often spotted straightening trains and fixing sleeves. Having had his break styling Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’ video, Hunter continued his work for Beyoncé, notably on hand for her (arguably) greatest Met look of all. The latex Givenchy Haute Couture dress for 2016’s ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in An Age of Technology’ combined leg of mutton sleeves, 2000 pearls, and some luxe Lorraine Schwartz rings. Va-va-voom.
Sasha Fierce (Beyoncé’s stage persona) has shown no signs of stopping. In fact, in recent months she has proved her influence in supporting the best of new design. Her relationship with American designer Daniel Roseberry’s Schiaparelli has been fruitful, in particular the striking gold puff sleeve dress she attended the 2020 Golden Globes wearing. And the pinnacle – ‘Black Is King’, her latest video album, which was a true melting pot of amazing garments. From classic Valentino, Burberry and Balmain, it also took the time to spotlight smaller, Black-owned brands as well, including Adama Paris, Loza Maléombho and Simon Hartman.
With one eye on the future, it’s safe to expect more than a few more unforgettable looks from Beyoncé. After all, she’s a survivor.