A love letter to the culture
(@vanityfair / Instagram)
A story for the books; a love letter to the culture. A manifestation of Black excellence.
Showcasing the radiance of melanated skin and the beauty of a lavish and prosperous culture, Beyonce’s Black is King was heart-stopping in its adventure.
Dropped on Friday, July 31st on Disney Plus, Black is King is a reimagining of The Lion King — a visual album for “today’s young king and queens in search of their own crown.”
With excellent cinematography, gorgeous visuals and a beautiful cast full of Black creatives and minds, this film was art in its purest form. Honestly, I think I speak for many when I say I can’t remember a time when I felt this empowered by a body of work.
In addition to the vivid music (still crying over Brown Skin Girl ), the striking choreography and the exhilarating story itself, one of the most iconic parts of the visual album was the fashion, styled by Zerina Akers. Featuring designs, patterns and styles symbolic to Black culture, the clothing made a statement and did its own part in bringing this picturesque vision to life.
Now, join me as I recount some of the most tableau outfits and visuals of Black is King.
1) Glitter Extravaganza
When this popped up on my screen during the magic of Find Your Way Back, my jaw dropped. In contrast to the cool backdrop of gently sloping sands and the moon closely watching over, Queen Bey was luminescent wearing a skin-tight mesh jumpsuit, with flickers of glitter and crystal sequins interwoven within its midnight fabric. This look was HANDS DOWN one of my favorites.
The eyebrows, the eyebrows, the eyebrows!!! Can eyebrow jewelry please become a thing???
2) Animal Print, Oh My!
A Riccardo Tisci custom cow-print corset. Golden stacked earrings and bangles. A pair of delicately curved horns fit with braids and shelled bangs, symbolic of ancient African goddesses.
The visuals for Already was made even more iconic with this enrapturing outfit.
And I didn’t think I could fall more in love with a style of clothing, but then I saw this glittery cheetah print perfection:
I’m not gonna deny, I’m now 100% ready to go out and spend my coins on some haute animal print bodysuits (all faux of course).
Undeniably important in these visuals was the concept of hair. Hair is something deeply rooted and significant in Black culture; from tight Bantu knots and thin microbraids fitted with colored beads, to thick twists, woven cornrows and intricate flat tops, Black is King represented hair types from all across the diaspora.
Not to mention this:
Anyone else wondering exactly how long it took to put in these 30 ft long, floor-grazing braids? Or more importantly, how her neck is this strong??
4) Tulle Love
Well, I think fuschia may be my new favorite color.
I’m not typically a tulle kind of gal, but something about this Molly Goddard Daria dress has definitely converted me. Everything about this look was pure perfection.
And don’t even get me started on the matching silk Gele wrap and the crystallized hoop earrings. Black culture is top tier.
In these Mary Katrantzou watercolor-kaleidoscope colored dresses, this scene was surely a frontrunner of the album. With Beyoncé’s tower of curls, bold jewelry and vibrant colors, this look served goddess Gaea goodness. Literally Mother Nature incarnate.
(And peep the Bantu knots of the model on the right and the azure headdress of the model on the left — I've never seen anything quite so striking.)
5) Royal Blue
You know it’s not a real Queen Bey article without the Queen herself, Miss Blue Ivy.
Serving débutante grandeur, Blue looked ADORABLE in classic pearls and an off-the-shoulder, ruffled grey gown. Her braided bun, shelled headpiece and bold red lipstick made her look even more like a mini legend in the making.
I feel a bit like a proud mom...when did she get so big??
6) Garden Gala
Abstract and vibrant, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go to a tea party this much in my life.
Sheer, pastel tights, chunky heels, floral gowns, checkered two-pieces, soft-hued gloves, bold eyewear, gorgeous models...Kelly Rowland and Tina Lawson. I mean, need I say more?
There are so many things to talk about when it comes to this outfit. The gothic-esque vibe of this look is pulled together by delicate chandelier earrings, curled braids, thigh-high strappy heels and the most eye-catching, ebony feathered body suit.
A Bird of Prey — striking and confident in her surveyal.
8) Fringe, Fringe and More Fringe
A major statement of Black is King, fringe may have just been brought back into style. As ethereal as the Sun itself, Beyoncé’s iridescent, rainbow-colored tassels extend and drape elegantly down an AREA Crystal Crochet poncho. Simply alluring.
Now, who do I have to beg to get myself a matching one?
9) Body Paint: An Art
From Already to Find Your Way Back, body paint stole the show. Viridescent stripes and swirls. Animal patterns connecting back to nature. Gold and silver as statements to the art. Other than Bey completely serving body, this traditional craft, painted by Michela Wariebi, combines beauty and self-identity as a form of celebration in Black culture.
This is a visual album that strives to make anyone with darker features feel beautiful in their own being. Honored in their elegant history. Proud in their existence. And for me, at least, that's just what it did.
Beyoncé said it herself: “let Black be synonymous with glory.” And after watching this film — one full of style and opulence and diversity and love and glory, it’s undeniable to say that Black truly is king.
Jenna Bennett is an Editorial Assistant at Rowdy Magazine. She loves online shopping, annoying her chihuahua, crying over fictional characters and watching cute animal vids on Instagram. You can reach her at @j.ennabennett for more info and awesome book recommendations.