There was so much more to Beyoncé‘s recent looks than meets the eye.
In case you missed it, over the course of 2018 Grammys weekend, the pop culture icon has been repeatedly spotted wearing all-black ensembles. Each look, while different in the choice of garments, featured a beret and retro sunglasses—an homage to the Black Panthers. While being fashion forward enough for Queen B’s wardrobe, these accessories have a political history that reveals a larger message behind her fashion.
For example, in honor the 2018 Pre-Grammy Gala, the Lemonade singer appeared in a leather beret by Eugenia Kim atop an AzziAndOsta custom gown. The dress, which featured an asymmetrical, ruffled skirt and turtleneck bodice, grabbed our attention with its mind-bending design, but it was the hat that transformed a mere standout outfit into a story.
The story is a political one that takes us back to the counterculture and social activism of the ’60s and ’70s. The beret, a French term for the flat-crowned hat, was transformed from an everyday accessory for the masses to a revolutionary statement by activists like Huey P. Newton, the founder of the Black Panther Party, and Che Guevara, Argentine revolutionary leader.
In the African-American culture, specifically, the black cap, along with black sunglasses, leather jackets and Afro-centric hairstyles (such as the afro), became the uniform for those that sought to protect, defend and mobilize the community. Black leaders like Angela Davis and Bobby Seale wore the accessory consistently with pride, and it quickly became the symbol for black empowerment.
Decades later, its symbolism remains the same.
Beyoncé isn’t one to voice her political beliefs in interviews. Rather, she uses music, like her husband, and fashion as a platform for expression. So when we found the “Formation” songstress at the Grammy awards, in a black velvet gown by Nicolas Jebran with a wide-brimmed beret, custom Judith Leiber clutch in the shape of a black panther and Alain Mikli Le Matin sunglasses, it was clear: She wants you to know that she’s pro-Black.
“The idea was to create a moment, a memorable design with meaning because it’s more than just a gown,” Nicolas Jebran told Vogue, softly alluding to her political message.
Her makeup artist Sir John also shared the deep message behind her look: “If you look at the beret from yesterday, the turtleneck part of the dress tonight—its sculptural silhouette,” he shared with People. “It was a really strong, powerful moment. This is something that is representative of love and solidarity for her people,”
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the star rock black militant-inspired looks. At the Super Bowl in 2016, the half-time show entertainer entered the field with an army of dancers sporting all-black leather ensembles, afro hair and berets. Then, she sang “Formation,” a call for solidarity.
“It started with Super Bowl last January, and here we are a year later,” Sir John continued.
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In a time of social unrest with various movements calling for justice, as pop culture icons, Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z are making it known what they stand for.
The queen’s Black Panther-inspired outfits also come just in time for the premiere of Black Panther, the first Marvel movie with an all-black cast. The film hits theaters on February 15.