Beyoncé never, ever just puts on a show. No, that would be amateur, pedestrian. When Queen Bey takes the stage, rest assured that everything has been considered and perfected, from the fan that will create the wind needed for her hair to billow around her face to the lighting – and especially what Blue Ivy's mama is wearing, and its meaning.
As with anything she does, Beyoncé is always dropping clues to see who's really paying attention. Over the weekend, Beyoncé and Jay Z performed at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg wearing show-stopping and symbolic outfits brought to life by her stylists Zerina Akers and Jenke Ahmed Tailly.
While her husband (styled by June Ambrose) wore mostly Calvin Klein suits and Sacai hoodies, Beyoncé wore custom look after custom look for each of her sets during the performance. There was the custom Atelier Versace jumpsuit inspired by the one Elizabeth Hurley wore in 1994's Four Weddings and a Funeral, the Balmain that stayed true to Olivier Rousting's design aesthetic, the beautiful Ashi Studio gown with intricate ruffles, and a beaded mini dress.
But it was the matching bodysuit, thigh-high boots, and sweeping cape London-based designer Mary Katrantzou designed that really took our breath away. It featured floral, crystal and sequin patchwork made to represent the 54 countries in Africa. “We wanted the outfit to represent both Beyoncé's energy and grace on stage, while celebrating the diversity of Africa,” Katrantzou tells Vogue. “I was honoured to be chosen as a female designer,” she continued. “To say she's a hero of mine is an understatement, she means so much to so many of us around the world. After all, she ‘runs the world’.”