‘Black Is King’: Beyoncé’s visual album is a celebration of fashion and symbolism

‘Black Is King’: Beyoncé’s visual album is a celebration of fashion and symbolism

Written by Marianna Cerini, CNN

There are many lines and lyrics that can be cited in “Black Is King”, Beyoncé’s new visual album, which has dropped today at Disney +. But two in particular seem especially apt to describe the stylistic party the artist has created. The first comes three minutes: “Let black be synonymous with joy.”

The second arrives half an hour later, on the song “Mood 4 Eva”, with Jay-Z, Childish Gambino and Malian singer Oumou Sangaré. Beyoncé, dressed in a full-length leopard dress, with a slit higher than high, Beyoncé laughs at the camera as she sings, “I’m in a good mood.”

The nearly 90-minute-long film is evidence of both claims.

Conceived as a celebration of “the breadth and beauty of black ancestry,” as Beyoncé wrote an Instagram post announcing its release, “Black Is King” is a companion to “The Lion King: The Gift,” the album he made to accompany the Disney CGI remake of the 1994 animated film. (Beyoncé said to adult Nala in the film.) It follows a young man’s journey towards self-discovery, centered on black history and African traditions, told through the artist’s own narrative.

Aesthetically, however, the project is a world to itself. Shot all over the world, from South Africa to West Africa, England to Belgium, New York to Los Angeles, it shows Queen Bey, who wrote and directed the project and is an executive producer, in a universe phenomenal, bigger than -the look of life and ensembles as powerful and artistic as the cultural messages conveyed through music.

The fashion moments, curated by Bey’s stylist and costume designer Zerina Akers, are many. As in “Lemonade,” released in 2016, Beyoncé goes seamlessly between wardrobe and outfit, from block colors to patterns, from major European brands to African independent brands.

Beyoncé and her dancers wear Marinne Serre’s body for “Ja”. Credit: Parkwood Entertainment / Disney +

There is a ruined floral dream Erdem dress from the British house’s Fall-Winter 2019 collection, but also a long-sleeved stitching, fitted with the French Marine Serre label with the brand’s crescent moon. Sequenced body-con dresses are followed by fierce power suits and flowing feminine pieces, like the yellow ensemble the artist wears in a celestial rendition of “Spirit” at the end of the film, surrounded by a black heart. who wore silky trousers and coats of arms. . Fascinating to watch, the constant change of styles allows Beyoncé to fully embody a range of characters.

Accessories also play a big role in “Black Is King”, from sunglasses (tiny, cat’s eyes, with diamonds, named), to strong headdresses that pay homage to the traditions of African fashion and the queen. Egyptian Nefertiti. The earrings are large and shiny; bracelets adorn the length of the arms; pearls appear and reappear everywhere. There is nothing underestimated, and that is the point.

Beyoncé wears an ethereal yellow set for

Beyoncé wears a yellow etheric set for “Spirit”. Credit: Parkwood Entertainment / Disney +

This sartorial style is also shared by the rest of the cast. Jay-Z and the young protagonist are seen in camel-colored dresses, paired with signage collars and oversized necklaces. Tina Knowles-Lawson, Bey’s mother, appears in a warm pink dress, as sharp as the heads that go there. Even blue ivy looks relevant on a pearl and pearls.

For the song “Brown Skin Girl”, Naomi Campbell, Adut Akech, Lupita Nyong’o, Kelly Rowland and Aweng Ade-Chuol wear awesome sets for a fairytale debut ball. (Other well-dressed celebrities who appear in different parts of the film include Pharrell Williams, Nigerian singer Mr Eazi and Ghanaian artist Shatta Wale.)
Women, including Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter and Kelly Rowland, are debutant style garments

Women, including Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter and Kelly Rowland, make debut style dresses for “Brown Skin Girl”. Credit: Parkwood Entertainment / Disney +

The choral moments are, perhaps, the brilliance of the film’s aesthetic dexterity. A synchronized swimming number reminiscent of Esther William’s aquicolor musicals of the 1940s and 1950s is a hypnotic kaleidoscopic dream of orange and fuchsia, with Bey in the center. The final choreographic sequence in the middle of the desert, where the dancers give primary colors, looks like a painting in motion.

These scenes represent Beyoncé’s creative mission over the past few years: to honor black stories and identities and celebrate black talent.

“The events of 2020 have made the vision and message of the film even more relevant as people from all over the world embark on a historic journey,” he wrote on Instagram. “I think when blacks tell our own stories, we can change the axis of the world and tell our REAL story of generational wealth and wealth of the soul that is not told in our history books.”

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