When Beyonce concluded her 49-date “Formation” stadium tour, Billboard wrote that her career has been characterized by “challenging herself with Olympic feats of talent, skill, creative direction and endurance.” That couldn’t be summed up better in her latest tour, which saw her literally dancing on water in heels for some shows.
She’s been known to flip through the air, drop into a sickening twerk and perform otherwise strenuous dance choreography while consistently singing as close to studio perfect as possible. Hers is a brand built on athleticism, so it’s little wonder that when Beyonce made her latest bid for a fashion empire — and undoubtedly her most successful to date — it was in the athleisure category.
Let’s be clear: Beyonce hasn’t had the most seamless relationship in the fashion industry. Just this year she picked up a Fashion Icon recognition from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which itself was a decision that came with quite a bit of debate. Acceptance for her nomination of the award wasn’t as widespread as the acceptance of fashion darling Rihanna’s 2014’s win in a nearly nude dress.
But Bey ascended the stage, rocking a Givenchy suit, the oversized wide brimmed hat that has become synonymous with her Formation era, and $9 million in Lorraine Schwartz jewels and reminded us of the important role fashion played in her career.
“As long as I can remember, fashion has been a part of my life,” she began, eventually citing how her grandmother was a seamstress who used her work to fund Mama Tina’s Catholic schooling. “When we were starting out in Destiny’s Child, high end labels, they didn’t really want to dress four black country, curvy girls and we couldn’t afford designer dresses and couture. My mother was rejected from every show room in New York. But like my grandmother, she used her talent and her creativity to give her children their dreams.”
It was quite the opening, giving a reason for the long portion of Beyonce’s career that saw the star’s red carpet looks fall short of Best Dressed success. Until recently — her 4 album if one were to pick a specific point in her discography for the change — Beyonce wasn’t thought of as a “labels” girl. Sure there was that Thierry Mugler-designed costume era but that was the exception, not the rule.
For what it’s worth, Beyonce tried to funnel whatever fashion following she had into a designer brand before her success with Ivy Park. We all remember (okay maybe some of the younger millennials won’t) her House of Dereon line breaking out as a possible Baby Phat competitor. That 2004 startup’s success was nonexistent. At that point, Bey’s name wasn’t translating to “I want to wear what she’s wearing” she wasn’t an “I want her style” kind of girl. But then there’s her body. Her drive.
Ivy Park is to Beyonce what Jordan Brand is to Michael Jordan and Yeezy is to Kanye West. Like Jordan with Nike and West with Adidas, Bey teamed up with Topshop not for a one-time endorsed line, but for a collaborative companies. Considering Jordan brand’s unprecedented success, which eventually ushered in a new wave of athlete faces, and Yeezy just getting started newest iteration but promising its own retail outlets in the future, Ivy Park is still small. But even if the brand hasn’t boasted those things, it sits nestled in the bloom of success, launched with Beyonce at the forefront of pop culture as the world at large embraces health-conscious lifestyles with new fervor.