Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ was made to last forever
The photos on her social media aim to evoke those emotions in a tangible way – with bodysuits, disco balls, hologram horses and stuffed saddles. If the music is a tribute to the no-holds-barred movement, the still images are steeped in fashion history, high-maintenance beauty and perfection – maybe not the old-school version that Beyoncé ran away with in her secret, but it’s hard.
There is a lot of work in these looks.
To begin with: there are body suits. But of course there are body suits. Has there ever been an extended Beyoncé moment that didn’t feature one? No, no. They are her signature. Her uniform. Bay-suits should be named.
There’s one that’s sequined and embossed and actually has a little silver chain and rhinestones. In one portrait, she sits with her legs akimbo in a black lace Alia bodysuit, her eyes looking toward the viewer and her lips slightly parted. This is also a signature. In every photograph, she is staring at her audience with her mouth slightly hanging. This default expression gives every photo the same emotional tone.
Beyoncé in motion pictures is not as exciting as Beyoncé in action. Her silence doesn’t say much. You don’t communicate that much with a glance and a shutter click. It doesn’t matter if she signals a waiter to refresh her drink, restrains her unruly bar mate, or hangs an old glass with a broken bottle. She’s giving a Beyoncé look. But it doesn’t matter. That is always more than enough.
There’s more Alaia on display in the form of a custom acid-green lace dress with Mongolian lamb trim. There’s also a Gucci silver satin velvet gown with winged sleeves and a red cropped jacket from Dolce & Gabbana. There’s a western hat and red studded stilettos, a corset and a silver horn driver from Muger, totally reminiscent of the 1992 “Too Funky” video in which designer Thierry Muger collaborated with George Michael. Seven fashion and music collaborations.
The clothes, with their broad shoulders and slim lines and unabashed sexiness, are reminiscent of fashion from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The dress sends the mind to Grace Jones’ smart confidence and Madonna’s sexuality. His powerful charm pulls balls and drags queens. The layout makes one think of the fashion photography of Helmut Newton and Jean-Paul Goude.
Beyoncé echoes Newton’s “Saddle 1” as she kneels with a golden saddle on her back. The image of Paloma Picasso wearing a silver Gucci dress with one breast almost exposed is reminiscent of Karl Lagerfeld’s breast-revealing dress. And there’s the disco horse. Beyoncé sits in a white hat wearing chains and pins. In the year It recalls the pop culture moment in 1978 when Bianca Jagger sat down at Studio 54 on White Horse and helped make the nightclub a household name. Not anymore A place for gender and sexuality.
There is a total commitment to that moment’s radiant joy – or at least its soft-focus memory. Back then, the excitement was heightened by the dire circumstances – and perhaps for good reason. The dance has persevered in the face of the AIDS epidemic, homosexuality, economic disaster and grim crime statistics. It was very scary. And so, after pandemic lockdowns, civil unrest and attempted riots, Beyoncé delivers bleak, funky music. And from years of track pants and yoga pants and only wearing waist-highs, she presents her audience with a changed, worn-out, disheveled and exhausted fashion. She’s working hard in those corsets and stilettos.
It is politically correct to argue that she is making a show of strength and female empowerment with her pasties and stitched stockings. After all, Beyoncé learned the culture and music of what it means to embrace one’s success and power. Her teachings resonated especially with some black women. But there’s no denying that these pictures express pleasure through the male gaze—as well as through the female gaze, the non-gendered gaze, and the gaze of anyone who wants to see it.
The clothes tell the story of a chaotic era in pop culture where people are determined to have a good time. And when they are He did have a good time. All though.