“Let Black be synonymous with glory,” says Beyoncé in Black Is King, the visual accompaniment to her 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift. The full-length film, which was recently released has been dubbed a love letter to people of the African diaspora - Afrofuturism at its finest. Making a cameo are notable African stars; Lupita Nyong’o, Yemi Alade, Adut Akech, and Aweng Ade-Chuol.
While renowned brands like Valentino, Balmain, and Burberry were prominently featured in the spectacular number of costume changes (69), the creative team tapped into a pool of talented black designers to the delight of Pulsers. From dressing up like the Mangbetu women from Congo to rocking West African headgears to Senegalese accessories, the 24-time Grammy winner takes viewers through a sartorial journey as she deliberately amplifies the breadth and beauty of black ancestry.
The visual album has been described by many fashion critics as empowering and visually striking to the black culture. Ivorians Lafalaise Dion, Loza Maleombho and Senegal’s Tongoro Studio by Sarah Diouf are among the prominent African designers, who were headhunted by Beyoncé’s longtime stylist, Zerina Akers. Loza, the talented Ivorian designer has in previous past worked with former Destiny’s Child star, Kelly Rowland.
Sarah Dirouf, the face behind Tongoro Studio started up, dressed the singer in her performing of Brown Skin Girl. Previously, Bey had rocked some of her designs to The Global Citizen Festival in South Africa. The designer, who’s designs are in constant rotation on international runways has also worked with Iman and Burna Boy.
Lafalaise Dion also known as ‘The Cowrie Shell’ is another Ivorian who had the privilege to don the megastar in one of her cowrie shell headpieces. The celebrated designer based in Abidjan doubles up as ELLE Magazine’s Content Manager in Ivory Coast. Senegalese fashion designer Adama Paris, also made the cut, donning Bey in a custom made off-the-shoulder marigold dress with a matching headpiece.
In the past, Beyoncé has been spotted rocking a number of African designs. For her Spirit video, the revered star wore a monochromatic outfit featuring a black and white suit complete with a durag, facepiece and earrings by Senegal’s Tongoro.
In 2018, she made a fashion statements at The Global Citizen Festival when she rocked designs by Rich Minsi and Tongoro alongside stunning in a ‘metamorphosis dress’ by Quitera and George, a duo from South Africa. She went also donned an ancient Egyptian beaded bodysuit by South African designer Enhle Mbali Maphumulo.