The 18 designers featured in Beyoncé's Black is King visual album everyone should know

Beyoncé in D.Bleu.Dazzled for Black is King. Image via @dbleudazzled on Instagram
Beyoncé in D.Bleu.Dazzled for Black is King. Image via @dbleudazzled on Instagram
  • Beyoncé Knowles-Carter's Black Is King premiered on Disney+ on 31 July 2020, to much-deserved praise and many mouths agape in awe.
  • Written, directed and executive-produced by Beyoncé and costume-directed by Zerina Akers, the 85-minute visual album is decadent with cultural and sartorial imagery from start to finish.
  • Here, we take a look at the designer threads seen in Black Is King from across the globe, including Africa's finest. 

Remember when Beyoncé released the 'Spirit' music video on the heels of the 2019 Lion King live-action remake?

The musical offering was indeed a sight to write home about. And write home we did - from shining the spotlight on the African designer's ensemble featured in the video to the uncredited 'inspiration' from the La Maison Noir: The Gift and The Curse visual album by SA-Congolese musician Petite Noir.   

READ MORE: As we conclude Africa Month, we add 33 South African brands to our list of must-haves   

But with Black Is King, the star who voiced The Lion King's Nala has more than redeemed herself from her previous lapse in collaboration. As the director of an homage to Africa and her stories, it's evident that Beyoncé (along with her stylist Zerina Akers) did not merely appropriate African garb for its visual allure, but rather researched and commissioned any African cultural references and talent with purpose. From our local Gqom musos and our fellow Nigerian Afrobeat hitmakers to centering African designers where it most mattered.

I mention the costume director and founder of Black Owned Everything, Zerina Akers, in particular, because the fashion on this visual album is the biggest medium through which the narrative of black pride and black opulence is carried.

However, it is not solely African designers worn on Black Is King - as we see the protagonist in Balmain, Valentino, Mugler and Burberry in various scenes of the album - but that's nothing to go off the deep end in "capitalist exploitation" think pieces about. 

Black people wear luxury well. African people wear luxury gracefully. And that was one of the key sentiments of this visual spectacle.

READ MORE: Is Africa ready to be a luxury fashion hub? 

Given the fact that just weeks before this project dropped, the multi-hyphenate music icon's BeyGood organisation teamed up with the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) to help businesses suffering during the current global health crisis, we can hardly expect her to do more than the African Union with her art. 

So let's focus on that - the art. The fashion. 

Here, we take a look at the designers - African and European worn in Black Is King:

First, a special mention must be given to Senegalese designer Sarah Diouf's Tongoro Studio for making it onto Bey's catalogue of work once again. 

Tongoro Studio

In the 'Spirit' music video with absolutely phenomenal visuals, the star appeared in one of the scenes clad in a bespoke Tongoro Studio BAMAKO suit and bustier, custom durag, earrings, and their CAIRO face piece. All styled by Beyoncé's stylist, Zerina Akers.  

This officially marked the fifth time the singer was seen in Tongoro. Not to mention the fact that she's the first and only celebrity to ever wear this almost three-year-old Senegalese label. When Beyoncé is the only celebrity to ever wear your garments, no one else really matters, right? 

READ MORE: Beyoncé embraces the African spirit in Senegalese designer's bespoke ensemble for new music video 

In 2018, Bey landed at Lanseria Airport in the label's ZANZI two-piece, and was then spotted in a custom MALIKI suit during her Global Citizen Festival visit. Zerina then dressed her in an ensemble from Mmuso Maxwell's Spring/Summer '16 collection shortly after.

Rich Mnisi's custom Rhundzu Blouse and Crocodile Half-pleat skirt were also proudly worn by Mrs Carter while sightseeing with her husband Jay Z.   

This time around, Tongoro Studio's BIRIMA dress and a custom NGOR gown are worn by Beyoncé for "Brown Skin Girl". 

And so grows the list of young or black or POC designers who can proudly declare that one of the greatest talents of our time has worn their creations. 

Wendy Nichol 

A custom gown for "Bigger". The New York-based designer also made the sheer black gown for the "Drunk in Love" music video, taking her work back to the shore for Bey's latest visual offering.  

D.Bleu.Dazzled 

For "Find Your Way Back", we're introduced to Destiny Bleu's scintillating ensemble, who has also dressed Lady Gaga previously.

Alon Livne 

Israeli fashion designer Alon Livne scores a hat-trick here, as the mastermind behind the custom garments featured in "My Power", "Water", and "Otherside" respectively.

Ashi Studio

In custom Ashi. "Mr Ashi was honoured to create this elaborate hand-made embroidered piece which took 70 hours of work," reads the label's Instagram caption. The "Halo" singer also wore Ashi Studio during her Global Citizen performance in South Africa in 2018.

Loza Male´ombho 

Probably one of the most enduring stills circulating on social media since Black is King was released, is the custom Loza Male´ombho ensemble King Bey wears on "Already" .

Marine Serre 

Also worn on "Already". 

5:31 Jérôme

Another standout piece from "Already". 

Timothy White

Mia Vesper 

Alejandro Collection

For the ultra lavish "Mood 4Eva" video, in which husband Jay Z makes an appearance. In this video, Bey is also styled in Balmain and Erdem. 

Erdem

Mary Katrantzou 

In more frills and ruffles.

Déviant La Vie

Deep in denial, deep in the Nile... in all-white Déviant La Vie. 

Molly Goddard

In the AW19 Daria dress for "Water". 

Area 

Donning the AREA Crystal Crochet Poncho. 

Levenity 

In a custom floral jacket by the Haitian-American designer for the "Already" video. 

Duckie Confetti 

In a custom Confetti robe, looking like money in what would become the new black wealth anthem. 

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