From her angelic voice to her regal presence, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has been captivating the masses for more than two decades. Her stylist, Zerina Akers, has created some of the multihyphenate’s most talked-about looks, infusing the “Spirit” singer’s style with bold influences from the Motherland and shedding a light on standout African labels like Sarah Diouf’s Tongoro. ESSENCE talked with Akers about some of the star’s fabulous fashion moments, from the “Apes–t” video to her On the Run Tour II. All hail the Queen!

The Singer’s Fantastical Feather Getup:

“Beyoncé [above] was exploring the idea of a feather headdress. I presented the idea to Olivier Rousteing from Balmain and sent him over some of my favorite things from the collection. We combined the jewelry from another look he presented, and voilà!”

1. THE “SPIRIT” SHELL COSTUME: “I had Laurel DeWitt add cowrie shells to a Maison Alexandrine pearl dress. The face mask by La Falaise Dion was a must. I knew that at the very least it would spark dialogue about Orishas and people would be conversing about their ancestors.”

2. THE “SPIRIT” BLACK-AND-WHITE ENSEMBLE: “We had been trying to put Beyoncé in a do-rag for about two years. Tongoro had these beautiful suits with matching do-rags I thought were stunning, so I asked Sarah to make us one and had Tim White make a bustier to match.”

We’d been trying to put Beyoncé in a do-rag for two years. The closest I got was the white do-rag the dancers wore in ‘Apes–t.’

3. BEY’S ON THE RUN TOUR II SEQUIN LOOK: “I wanted a very feminine and sexy silhouette with a train or cape as long as the runway built for the [OTR II] tour. I imagined this fabric blowing behind her as she sat and sang. The Vivienne Westwood team brought this beautiful fabric that moved like smoke.”

4. THE “FORMATION” HAT: “I was doing fittings for a video at the rehearsal space for Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance. All I kept hearing was ‘I slay, I slay.’ I was singing along and ended up subconsciously styling looks that had nothing to do with the project I had been given. I rented this hat from a costume house that kept falling down over the model’s eyes. I said, ‘Wait, let’s get a shot of that.’ When Beyoncé saw my fitting images, she said, ‘We have to shoot this.’ ”

5. THAT MONOCHROMATIC VERSACE FIT: “I was inspired by Gianni Versace’s formations from his nineties ad campaigns and wanted to pull the thread into Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ choreography with overlapping colors. The colors celebrated both the links between indigenous spirituality and Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, connecting with the diaspora.”


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