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King And Queen: Beyoncé Takes African Fashion To The World

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Beyoncé in a creation by Ivorian designer Lafalaise Dion; image supplied

Some of the best looks in Beyoncé’s new feature film, Black is King, have come from designers from the African continent.

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s brand-new new visual album Black is King that released on July 31 on Disney Plus, boasts an African touch, with many designers from the continent showcasing their work in it.

Out just a little over a year since the release of the live-action version of The Lion King where Beyoncé played the female lead, Nala, it was originally filmed as a companion piece to The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack, but the singer explains in a post on Instagram that the events of 2020 (specifically, the Black Lives Movement protesting police brutality in the United States) have made the message in the film more relevant.

For the “passion project”, Beyoncé spent over a year filming, researching, and editing it as a love letter to celebrate the breadth and beauty of black ancestry.  

“I believe that when black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books,” Beyoncé says in a post on Instagram.

Since its release, she has been praised for how she celebrated people of color as a whole in her visual album through the representation of artists (like Pharrell Williams, Naomi Campbell and Lupita Nyongo), background dancers, and black and African designers.

One of those African designers is Lafalaise Dion, based in the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan, who designed the shell headpieces seen throughout Black is King.

“Although I had a big vision for [my work], and the faith that I’d be able to take it far beyond Côte D’Ivoire, I never imagined I would get to this level in such a short time,” says Dion.

Also basking in the glory of the recent success of the film is Abidjan-born designer, Loza Maléombho, who designed a piece dubbed by Harper’s Bazaar as one of the best looks in the visual album. 

The graphic, black-and-white ensemble with gold hardware worn in the film has already become an iconic piece as it has received much praise from social media.

The ode to African fashion continues even in these Covid times. Watch this space for more.

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