Descending from the sky into a nondescript corner of L.A.’s Crenshaw neighbourhood, parachute in tow, Beyoncé is something of an otherworldly presence. She strides into the local hair salon, bodega, laundromat and wig shop wearing pieces from her IVY PARK x adidas collection—living proof that you, too, can be a stylish superhero in your own life, no matter where you live and who you are. She designs IVY PARK with everyone in mind, emphasizing a “fly” look for all—whether they’re dropping off the kids, going to the gym or out on a dinner date. For ELLE’s shoot, the superstar gamely poses for a series of cinematic vignettes she dreamed up with her Lemonade collaborator, Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas.
This juxtaposition—extraordinary girl in an ordinary world—is part of Beyoncé’s particular brand of magic, magic she believes exists in everyone. In 2016, when she first created IVY PARK—a brand she now owns outright, making her one of the youngest women, and the only African-American woman, to exercise 100 percent ownership of an athleisure brand—she was aiming to dress real women who work out, dance and navigate the school-run catwalk in athleisure. And after finding out that men were also flocking to IVY PARK, she widened her audience even further with the announcement that the collection will feature gender-neutral styles going forward. Her new partnership with adidas has allowed her to add footwear to the line for the first time. For the launch, Beyoncé hand-selected her favourite footwear models and mixed them with the aesthetics of the season.
Fashion is, of course, just one string to Beyoncé’s bow: She’s a Renaissance woman, counting directing (the six-time Emmy-nominated Homecoming), voice acting (as Nala in the US$1.6-billion-grossing remake of The Lion King) and producing (the African soundscape accompanying the album The Lion King: The Gift) among her recent hits. Part of the key to her success, as she enters these different realms, has been surrounding herself with a cadre of like-minded collaborators—including Matsoukas.
And now, we’ll turn it over to the people who go the hardest for Beyoncé: her fans.
Jumpsuit, track-top and bodysuit and harness bag (IVY PARK x adidas), hoop earrings (Lana Jewelry), necklace (Lorraine Schwartz) and rings (Ofira).
- I have been waiting for more IVY PARK. What are you giving us with your partnership with adidas? – via Facebook
BKC: My mother instilled in me the idea that creativity starts with taking a leap of faith—telling your fears they are not allowed where you are headed. And I’m proud to do that with adidas. I am excited for you to see the campaign for the first collection of this new partner- ship. It incorporates my personal style and expands that to include something for everyone. I love experimenting with fashion, mixing high and low, sports- wear with couture, even masculine and feminine. This new line is fun and lends itself to creativity, the ultimate power. I focused on designing a unisex collection of footwear and apparel because I saw so many men in IVY PARK. The way they have embraced the brand is an unexpected gift. I appreciate the beauty of gender-neutral clothing and breaking the so-called fashion rules. I took a chance on myself when I bought my company back. We all have the confidence in us to take chances and bet on ourselves.
- When did you feel confident enough that you could own your narrative as an artist and creator? – via email
BKC: The more I mature, the more I understand my value. I realized I had to take control of my work and my legacy because I wanted to be able to speak directly to my fans in an honest way. I wanted my words and my art to come directly from me. There were things in my career that I did because I didn’t understand that I could say no. We all have more power than we realize.
- I connected with Lemonade and I almost passed out when I saw Homecoming. You brought it and made me want to stand up and scream your name!! What’s up with the people who give out awards? Were you disappointed about not winning? Because, you know, you already won with me. – via Instagram
BKC: 🙏🏾 I began to search for deeper meaning when life began to teach me lessons I didn’t know I needed. Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift. Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else. Then I had Blue, and the quest for my purpose became so much deeper. I died and was reborn in my relationship, and the quest for self became even stronger. It’s difficult for me to go backwards. Being “number one” was no longer my priority. My true win is creating art and a legacy that will live far beyond me. That’s fulfilling.
- Why did you start directing? Is it not hard enough being the queen that constantly slays us? – via email
BKC: Thank you. 🙏🏾 Directing has, in a way, always been a part of my creative process. I’ve always had a passion for writing treatments for videos since Destiny’s Child. In 2008, I started a production company and sat in a room full of editors who taught me how to use Final Cut Pro. I spent a year editing and creating Life Is But a Dream. I went through hundreds of shows’ worth of footage, and that experience taught me to love the filmmaking process. I love how mixing media can take you on a journey, which inspired projects like Lemonade and Homecoming. I love combining doc- style footage with live performances and incorporating all aspects of my life in film.
- What is your work process like? Where do you start? Where do you get your ideas? – via email
BKC: With new projects, I get my team together for a prayer. I make sure we are all clear on the intention and what the deeper meaning is. I do my best, and I try to push everyone around me to do the same. I eventually give everything I have. When it’s released to the world, I let it go because it is no longer mine.
- You have worked with several female directors. Why is that important to you? – via Facebook
BKC: Melina Matsoukas has inspired me to own and redefine what it means to be a director. As a woman, if you are too opinionated, too strong-willed, too anything, you are disregarded. I’ve seen this happen to Melina, but she handles it with respect and grace. Melina is a rarity; she has the sensibility to understand fashion, photography, storytelling, history and culture and is able to seamlessly incorporate those components into her work. I have trusted Melina for over a decade and created some of my best work with her—from visuals for my music to tour content and now a fashion shoot. I was so excited to work with her on this shoot for ELLE because working with Melina is effortless. We have a natural way of collaborating because of our friendship and mutual respect for each other. There’s no politics, no ego; it’s just about being in the moment and creating dope art. Pioneers like Kasi Lemmons, Julie Dash and Euzhan Palcy have amazing catalogues, and women like Lena Waithe, dream hampton, Adria Petty, Diane Martel, Darnell Martin and Ava DuVernay have added to the dialogue. And I am lucky to have worked with most of these talented women.
- What stresses you out? You always look like you are in control. – via Instagram
BKC: I think the most stressful thing for me is balancing work and life. Making sure I am present for my kids—dropping Blue off at school, taking Rumi and Sir to their activities, making time for date nights with my husband and being home in time to have dinner with my family—all while running a company can be challenging. Juggling all of those roles can be stressful, but I think that’s life for any working mom.
Hoodie and jersey (IVY PARK x adidas), gown (Valentino) and earrings (Lana Jewelry).
- How do you take care of yourself? Do you believe in self-care? – via email
BKC: The name of the brand comes from where I built my strength and endurance as a young woman. I ran and trained in the park, and that state of mind has stayed with me all these years later. It’s the first place where I learned to listen to my body. Many of us grew up seeing our parents act as if they were superheroes. Most women have been conditioned to ignore symptoms and just “tough it out” and focus on taking care of everyone else before themselves. I am no longer one of those people. After having a difficult pregnancy, I took a year to focus on my health. I have researched information on homeopathic medicines. I don’t just put any prescription in my body. My diet is important, and I use tools like acupuncture, meditation, visualization and breathing exercises.
- Do you ever react to negative comments about yourself? – via Facebook
BKC: Yes, I’m human. In moments of vulnerability, I try to remind myself I’m strong and I’m built for this. Thank God most of the noise bounces off of me after all of these years.
- Would we see you at the supermarket or Target? What do you buy? – via Facebook
BKC: The last time I went to a supermarket, it was more like a bodega before a Madonna concert. Jay and I snuck into one in Crenshaw and bought some Cuervo and Funyuns chips. And…y’all know you see me at Target and I see y’all trying to sneak pics.
Track jacket and pants (IVY PARK x adidas), earrings (Lana Jewelry) and necklace and rings (Lorraine Schwartz).
- Is there ever a morning you want to just put on sweats and go for a walk without security? – via email
BKC: I do!
- What do you do with your clothes after you wear them? I am certain you won’t wear them again. May I have them? – via Instagram
BKC: I think it’s important to have great basics that you can wear again and again. Versatility is a big part of the IVY PARK line and what inspires me. You can create your own style by experimenting and taking chances and continually reinventing your look with all of these pieces. I also donate my personal clothes to great charities that support women getting back on their feet. And I save my special pieces for my daughters! “I give my daughter my custom dresses, so she gon’ be litty. Vintage pieces by the time she hit the city, yeah-ah!!”
- After 25 years in the game, how do you not lose yourself? – via email
BKC: The predictable rock-star DNA is a myth. I believe you don’t have to accept dysfunction to be successful. This is not to say that I have not struggled. I have the same pain that life brings to everyone else. I try to shift the stigma that says with fame there has to be drama. It is how you relate to your hardships and use that to evolve. And I try to keep real ones around me.
- As the chairwoman and CEO of your company, Parkwood Entertainment, what are some of the measures you have put in place to ensure that women executives have an equal say? – via email
BKC: It has always been important to me to hire women. I believe in giving a voice to people who are not always heard. One of the first presidents of my company was a woman. My current GM, head of production, head of PR and other leaders are women. I hire women not to be token voices in the company but to lead. I believe women are more balanced and think with compassion in deciding what’s best for the business. They see the big picture absent of personal agendas. Most women are loyal and commit with 100 percent follow-through.
- In your productions, you show many shades of black and brown skin tones, various sizes and representation of members of the LGBTQIA community. Why is inclusion and representation important to you? – via email
BKC: For me, it is about amplifying the beauty in all of us. I rarely felt represented in film, fashion and other media. After having a child, I made it my mission to use my art to show the style, elegance and attraction in men and women of colour. We are living in a beautiful time of real progression toward acceptance. I’m so proud of the progress being made in and around the LGBTQIA community. Masculinity is being redefined. Women are not competing with women. They no longer strive to be the best female anything. They strive to be the best. Diversity and inclusion go beyond race.
- Everybody’s weight fluctuates. How does it make you feel when people are constantly commenting on your appearance? – via Instagram
BKC: If someone had told me 15 years ago that my body would go through so many changes and fluctuations and that I would feel more womanly and secure with my curves, I would not have believed them. But children and maturity have taught me to value myself beyond my physical appearance and really understand that I am more than enough no matter what stage I’m at in life. Giving zero 🤬s is the most liberating place to be. Also knowing that true beauty is something you cannot see. I wish more people focused on discovering the beauty within themselves rather than critiquing other folks’ grills.
- Which singer, living or dead, would you want to invite to your house, and what would you cook? – via email
BKC: Hmm. I’d have Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sade and so many more. We’d shoot oysters and have pizza.
- I’ve been to every one of your solo tours and the ones with JAY-Z. The Formation World Tour was my favourite. Where is the video? – via Instagram
BKC: Years ago, I asked Prince to record my rehearsal with him for our Grammy performance. He said: “You don’t need to record that. You own that in your mind.” Haaaaaaa! Prince always knew best! So, you can always watch the Formation World Tour in your mind; you own that! 🤪
- Of all the hats you wear (chairwoman, global entertainer) and all the titles we give you (Queen, Yoncé), which brings you the greatest joy? – via email
BKC: Being Blue, Rumi and Sir’s mom.
- What grosses you out?
BKC: People smacking when they eat.
- If you could be an animal for a day, would you still be a whale?
BKC: I still love whales. And I love being in the ocean. And that video was after a 16-hour press day. Not marijuana!!
- It’s Corny Joke Time. What’s your joke?
BKC: What do you call a deer with no eyes? No idea. Get it? NO-EYED-DEER 😂 I’m so sorry. Blue is absolutely going to kill me for telling that terrible joke.
- Talking or texting?
BKC: Talking, but trust me, you’ve never seen a longer text than one from me. Ask Parkwood!
Track-top bodysuit and harness bag (IVY PARK x adidas) and hoop earrings (Lana Jewelry).
- What’s your least favourite song to perform?
BKC: I like to cycle through my songs when I need a break from performing them. Then I miss them, bring them back and fall in love all over again.
- How long does it take you to get ready?
BKC: As long as I take, I better look like Halle Berry.
- What’s something you could eat for a week straight?
- What question do you hate to answer?
BKC: Are you pregnant? Get off my ovaries!
- What’s your favourite word? Least favourite?
BKC: Least favourite: No. Favourite: Why????
- You’re at karaoke. What does Beyoncé sing?
BKC: “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” and “Hotel California” (the guitar solo is my jam)!!
- Favourite cereal?
BKC: Granola with pecans.
- Favourite flower?
BKC: Blue Vanda orchids.
- Go-to makeup look?
BKC: Moisturizer, a little concealer and a bright lip.
- What’s your Snapchat name? We know you’re on there.
BKC: I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, but I don’t know what my Snapchat is. Sorry to that Snapchat. 🤪🤫🤐
Photography, Melina Matsoukas; styling, Karen Langley; makeup, Sir John; hair, Neal Farinah and Nakia Rachon; props, Happy Massee (Lalaland); tailoring, Tim White; producer, Benjamin Bonnet (Westy Productions). Cover: Beyonce is wearing a coat from Gucci, a dress from IVY PARK x adidas and earrings from Lana Jewelry.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of ELLE Canada. Copies will be available to purchase on newsstands in Canada and online here.
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