How Balmain Designed Beyoncé's Legendary Coachella Costumes

Beyoncé’s Coachella headlining set is already the stuff of legends, but her magnificent costumes deserve a second look, because they’re stunning and layered with meaning. It’s as though her costumes were an extension of her body, just as dazzling and free as her curly hair that blew beautifully in the wind. Beyoncé is known for her incredible costumes, but for the Coachella show, they were truly on a different level. And there’s a reason why: the costumes were designed by Olivier Rousteing of Balmain.
Rousteing spoke with Vogue about the honor of dressing Queen Bey for this historic performance. And “queen” isn’t an exaggeration — her first look was a regal, ancient Egypt-inspired cape with a crown that referenced Queen Nefertiti, a motif that Bey is currently exploring with her spring 2018 merch. The intricately beaded cape dazzled in shades of black, silver, and gold, with Afrofuturistic patterns zig-zagging across the length of the costume. It was a moment.
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Looking at the costumes, we see references to Mad Max (which Rouseting mentioned as an influence), but there are so many themes we picked up on. The Destiny’s Child camo costumes were an homage to the “Survivor” video. The yellow hoodie (which is sadly not for sale) and jeans combo? That look is an homage too, to her comfy gear in the “7/11” music video. And the boots! The Christian Louboutin iridescent fringed boots recalls a drum major’s boots, which are meant to captivate the eye as the band marches in step. Every band nerd in the audience clutched their heart in happiness at this reference.
The HBCU halftime show theme was an incredible nod to a thriving culture predicated on joy. Drummers, band members, and step dancers at these shows have one job: to spread pure happiness, and that came through in Rouseting’s work. Through the costumes, Beyoncé’s performance was a delightful ode to that happiness, right down to the dominant tones of the clothes. The dancers and band were decked out in the color yellow, a color that represents optimism and joy — those things came through in her performance, in which she reveled in her own hard-earned glory. If anyone deserves to wear a gold cape, it’s Beyoncé.
He collaborated with stylist Marni Senofonte to bring Beyoncé’s vision to life. She reportedly was looking for a “military” style, but within the show’s HBCU theme. He designed all five of her costumes, the costumes for Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland during the Destiny’s Child reunion medley, and the garments for the 200-person army of backup dancers. If that sounds like an enormous project, consider that Rouseting reportedly also only had a few weeks to complete this job. Talk about impressive!
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Rousteing talked about working directly with Beyoncé herself. “I was able to be in the room with her,” he said, and described how Bey had very specific instructions for how the clothing should interact with the music and the stage lighting. Rouseting attended Beyoncé’s 11-hour show rehearsals as well, in order to assess how the clothing interacted with the dance choreography.
Rouseting certainly feels the weight of this defining moment. It is, after all, a Coachella performance that will go down in history. But he tells Vogue that some of the most rewarding memories of working with Beyoncé are the deep collaboration sessions with her family. “Blue comes in and runs over to [Beyoncé], and [Beyoncé] holds her in her arms while talking to us about the cuts and silhouettes,” said Rouseting. Hello, are there videos of this moment? We know that Beyoncé documents her life, so we demand to see the footage.
See photos of the some of the costumes below.