How do you top a history-making appearance at Coachella, a couture-laden world tour, and a collaboration with Balmain? If you’re Beyoncé, you use a headlining appearance at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 on Sunday to make some major African-inspired fashion statements.
Yes, we know the point of the festival this year, which is to commemorate the late Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, end poverty and hunger, increase AIDS awareness and access to education and clean water, and raise money and concern for deeply impoverished areas of Africa. In fact, audience members earned their tickets through charity work and petition-signing. But it’d be naive to ignore the fact that the appearance of Beyoncé and Jay-Z as this year’s headliners wasn’t a major draw. And while the livestream may have lasted a mere 25 minutes, the superstar couple showed up and showed out in a major way for their South African fans.
And as always, Beyoncé came through with a slew of custom-made designer looks (six, in total), this time paying tribute to various parts of Africa.
To kick things off, Beyoncé and Jay emerged to turn up the crowd with “Apeshit,” Bey once again collaborating with designer Olivier Rousteing for a custom creation by Balmain. The look paired black and white distressed high-waisted cutoffs with a coordinating beaded top with an all-over hieroglyph pattern and feather-flanked sleeves. The effect? Post-modern Egyptian goddess.
For her first nod to South Africa, Bey turned to Esteban Cortazar, who translated the look of the region’s traditional beading techniques onto a sleeveless minidress with a backplate—and Bey into a living, breathing Ndebele doll.
Versace was busy staging its pre-Fall show while Beyoncé and her dancers took the stage at South Africa’s FNB Stadium, but they weren’t too busy to turn out a multicolored array of Atelier Versace jumpsuits for the crew. Accented with cut-outs and safety pin accents, the looks were reportedly a throwback to the star-making Versace gown worn by Elizabeth Hurley to the 1994 premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral, which the label is reviving. But with the recent death of writer Ntozake Shange still painfully fresh in our minds, we also couldn’t help getting a For Colored Girls... vibe as Bey got her girls into “Formation.”
Of course, Beyoncé wouldn’t style and profile in South Africa without showcasing at least one South African label, and one of her most elegant looks of the night was a product of local designing duo Quiteria & George, in collaboration with actress Enhle Mbali Maphumulo’s apparel line, Manual Ross. The emerald green, crystal-encrusted bodysuit with gathered bishop sleeves and tired train was a showstopper as Bey and Jay rallied the crowd to join them in singing “Forever Young.”
The glamour didn’t stop there. The sculptural fuchsia tulle confection Bey donned to perform “Halo” and “Lights Out” was indeed heavenly, and a selection from London-based Ashi Studio’s Spring-Summer 2018 collection.
But the biggest tribute of the night came courtesy of designer Mary Katrantzou, who created a sequined bodysuit, balloon-sleeved coat and thigh-high boots, which Katrantzou told Vogue was inspired by traditional African dress. In fact, she found a way to represent all the African nations in a single garment.
“We wanted the outfit to represent both Beyoncé’s energy and grace on stage, while celebrating the diversity of Africa,” she said. “We first mapped out the continent on her, creating a floral patchwork that was printed on a sequin base and then hand-embroidered it with Swarovski crystals.”
The custom look reportedly took a month to create. “I worked closely with creative director Jenke Ahmed [Tailly], who wanted it to be about Mother Africa and female empowerment,” Katrantzou told Vogue. “As soon as we got the go-ahead the entire team gave Beyoncé all our love and attention.”
Of designing for arguably the biggest star in the world, Kazantrou said, “I was honoured to be chosen as a female designer ... To say she’s a hero of mine is an understatement, she means so much to so many of us around the world. After all, she ‘runs the world’.”
Of course, Bey wasn’t the only one making a statement for South Africa; along with hubby Jay-Z, co-producer and host Naomi Campbell, Oprah Winfrey, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Danai Gurira, Trevor Noah, Joy Reid, Al Sharpton, Gayle King, Tyler Perry, and more, were in attendance to lend their celebrity to those in need on our mother continent. Check out our slideshow, along with a few celeb posts from the festivities.