Renaissance Couture by Beyoncé x Balmain
Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing has teamed up with an unexpected design partner, his good friend and long-time muse Beyoncé, who worked closely with him over six months to co-create a truly modern couture offering.
Each of the collaboration’s designs is specifically inspired by one of the sixteen songs on Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE, the artist’s seventh solo album. With that record’s songs, lyrics and beats brilliantly melding together a remarkable selection of styles, artists and samples, it’s no surprise that the couture offering that it inspired is equally inventive. The collection’s co-designers, working closely with the Balmain design team and Beyoncé’s longtime stylist Marni Senofonte, played with Balmain house signatures, classic Parisian savoir-faire and a wide range of unexpected materials and techniques, to ingeniously translate RENAISSANCE’s joy and genius into a couture collection that makes clear that something powerful can result when music and fashion are combined into one unified whole.
It's not the diamond, it's not the pearls
I'M THAT GIRL
Bustier in hammered metal by the sculptor Elie Hirsch.
Matching spiked bracelets.
Pareo skirt and gloves in black nappa lamb leather.
“Obviously, Beyoncé’s a strong woman of substance — and with lyrics and a message like these, well, making the choice for which way to go for this first design was a very easy one. Knowing exactly the message that we wanted to give, we turned to sculptor Elie Hirsch for this sublime sun-meets-crown metal bustier (I especially love how these spikes impart a perfect frisson of danger).”
Comfortable in my skin (cozy, cozy)
Feu d’artifice (fireworks) dress, in black velvet embroidered with pink feathers. Black velvet turban and boots.
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“To channel the stirring spirit of Cozy—Beyoncé’s intoxicating, ballroom-flavored, love-yourself anthem—we pushed the artisans at Maison Fevrier to do something that they had actually never done before, despite their history of creating the most astounding plumage for Paris’ spectacles de cabaret and haute couture collections. Working closely with them, Beyoncé, her stylist Marni Senofonte, my Balmain team and I managed to ultimately paint the world pussy pink—arriving at the perfect solution for embroidering an impressive number of pink plumes de coq de poule bouquets—creating the exuberant sensation of being completely enveloped by multiple explosions of fireworks. At the same time, we worked to ensure that we could still see and celebrate that perfectly tailored black-velvet body, below. We utilized that same black-velvet for the Balmain turban and shoes, providing the needed backdrop of continuous evening sky for this feu d’artifice crescendo.”
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Unicorn is the uniform you put on Eyes on you when you perform
3D structured gown embroidered with crystals
“Beyoncé’s mesmerizes the ballroom with ALIEN SUPERSTAR, which is why we were determined that this couture design would shine just as brightly under the spotlight. U-N-I-Q-U-E had to be our guiding keyword, as we worked back and forth through multiple sketches. Taking the lyrics of this futuristic track extremely literally, our aim was to create a mastermind in haute couture that would allow us to be just reaching out to the solar system. So, we pushed each other to dream big—and because of that, we ultimately came up with these fantastic airy wings and hip extensions, floating lightly and powerfully all around the body—something that would definitely allow us to launch supernatural love up in the air. Because, with this look, we’re definitely flying over bullshit. Our Balmain team then masterfully constructed our architectural conception via an organza and boning base—and, as you can see, all that astounding shimmering relies on a vast quantity of crystal embellishments, painstakingly and expertly embroidered, piece by piece, by those same artisans.”
Oh, la, la, la,
That's the way them boys sound when I walk through the block-block-block
Macrame gown crafted from a mix of multiple black silk, velvet, rayon and patent-leather threads. Bodice embroidered with black-dyed pheasant feathers.
“RENAISSANCE’s momentum-building ENERGY, featuring Jamaican-American singer-rapper BEAM, may be one of shorter songs of the album, but this design was one of the longest and most complicated for us to achieve. From the beginning, we knew that we wanted something extremely sensual—the type of exquisite modern-couture gown that makes it very clear that the woman wearing it is well aware of both her allure and her commanding power. The superb featherwork was crafted by Paris’ legendary Maison Fevrier, which has long been celebrated for its mastery in creating the stunning plumage seen on both heritage couture runways and iconic cabaret stages. When examined closely, the gown’s complicated macramé pattern stuns with its complexity. It is definitely a true piece of art. Based on our designs, it was created from a massive quantity of many different types of deep-black threads—silks, rayons, velvets and patent-leather—meticulously woven and knotted together over a period of fifteen full days by the extremely talented French artist Laurentine Périlhou.”
You know that I'm gon' be extra When that camera go pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop
Embroidered gown with pattern inspired by traditional African hair-braiding, created with yarn braiding techniques
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“This gown began as a series of sketches combining African motifs and complex geometries. Then we turned to our artisans to translate those patterns, via brown and black lurex threads. As you can see, their skilled embroidery and careful braiding replicates the look of traditional techniques. This was one of this collection’s most complicated designs and it took the team over a month to complete that intricate creation process. The fantastic earrings build upon that same braiding artistry. We were especially happy with how the silhouette stands out, due to the powerfully rounded shoulders and hips.”
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I'm buildin' my own foundation, yeah
BREAK MY SOUL
Hooded dress, draped relying on shiny black velvet and paired with a 3D-printed bustier that gives the illusion of a naked torso, electroplated in black chrome.
“Cowritten by Beyoncé, JAY-Z, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart, BREAK MY SOUL celebrates ‘90s house music with a sample of Robyn S.’s classic Show Me Love, and adds unforgettable vocals from bounce legend and NOLA rapper Big Freedia. Absolutely determined to release the wiggle, we knew that to best reflect the spirit of this song, we needed to build confidence and power into this design—so, we went all out for drama, pairing a striking trio of turban, hood and expert draping with that incredible, gleaming bustier. The trompe l’oeil bustier, suggesting a nude torso, was created via a 3D printing of our artisans’ finest conceptions. It was then spray-painted it with the glossiest possible black—the type of paint that’s more typically relied upon for coating the chassis of sleek race cars. We then sealed that shine, with a final, gleaming varnish finish.”
Nobody can judge me but me, I was born free
Black-and-red velvet cape coat; metallic belt. 3D-printed electroplated chest bustier in silver chrome. Record-inspired, two-tone, flat, circular hat.
“With a pious title cleverly paired with RENAISSANCE’s most explicit lyrics, CHURCH GIRL makes it clear that it’s time to let go. Beyoncé and I wanted our design to reflect that self-confident spirit of someone who’s made it to the other side and is feeling no need to apologize for enjoying herself. After sketching out and then creating this bustier via 3D printing, we coated it with galvanized metal, creating a light and comfortable armor from shoulder to waist. The enveloping regal velvet wrap is powerfully belted, which creates a bow-like upper-body silhouette, a touch that spotlights Monsieur Balmain’s long history of constantly surprising with ingenious takes on classic bow shapes. And, for that flat couture black hat, by just giving it that addition of a red internal circle, we managed to create the perfect record-inspired crown for Queen Bey.”
I think you're so cool (Even though I'm cooler than you)
PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA
Bustier dress built around a pink chrome inverted bow
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“To perfectly channel the glorious, disco-flavored groove of the sultry PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA, we turned, once again, to the Balmain craftsmen, who helped us seamlessly meld together three very different concepts:
• An extremely sensual silhouette that relies on impressively curved front-and-back boning to create that impeccably fitted, body-con tulle bustier • A dazzlingly lustrous shine achieved by galvanized, pink-chrome fabric (allowing us to perfectly channel the slippery and slick title material) • The unexpected combo of two iconic Parisian couture signatures: the bow and le smoking. Beyoncé and I were very inspired by the Balmain archive’s many mid-century examples of Monsieur Balmain’s brilliance in creating surprising couture silhouettes via new twists on bow sizing, shape and placements. Building on that legacy, we decided to flip our glossy pink bow 180 degrees, allowing for the perfect front slit and transforming what normally would have been a bow’s hanging fabric edges into the most reduced version possible of a classic smoking’s lapels.”
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I want it right here, right now
Corolla gown and second skin in dusty pink velvet. Metallic décolleté by Elie Hirsch. Vintage Balmain hat, reinterpreted in hammered metal.
“VIRGO’S GROOVE, named for Bey’s astrological sign (which, incidentally, is mine, as well), is six funky minutes of sex-positive, disco-infused, intensity. For a siren song like that, we knew that it was time to turn up the heat, so we created sleek lines that flow around beautifully exposed shoulders. We then turned to sculptor Elie Hirsch to craft the perfect neckline for this ensemble—and his smooth and sensual metal décolleté peeks up perfectly from under the structured pink couture gown, cleverly echoing the surprising spin topping off this ensemble—a metallic twist on one of Pierre Balmain’s most iconic couture hat designs.”
Move out the way I’m with my girls and we all need space
Draped dress in thermo-strass bleu-gitane jersey. Matching thermo-strass hat, corne headdress
“More than anything, this design aims to capture some of the commanding power and confidence that the dream trio of Beyoncé, Grace Jones and Tems imparted to MOVE, their assertive reggaeton anthem. Starting with the idea of playing with a simple pareo, we then relied on our Balmain atelier’s draping expertise, pulling the hood, cape and skirt all together via that hanging front fabric. The striking bleu-gitane is one of Beyoncé’s favorite colors, and we knew that this would be the perfect design for that tone. The look’s overall amazing shimmer is the result of the addition of a massive quantity of strass. The flat, exaggerated lines of the Maison Michel hat, combined with those strong Balmain shoulders, add the perfect horizontal counterbalance to the dress’ distinct vertical line and the eye-catching corne—that finishing sculptural exuberance that tops off the entire ensemble—references the sleek stylings of iconic Grace Jones images from the ‘80s.”
Never met a girl so fine like this, no, no, no, no
Gown and Balmain vintage hat ensemble set in thermoformed black velvet, set with crystals.
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“Beyoncé’s call-out in HEATED to her beloved uncle Jonny’s fashion sense—Uncle Johnny made my dress—was actually one of the reasons I was inspired to reach out to her, to see if she would be willing to build upon that beautiful family history and co-design this RENAISSANCE couture collection with me. For this piece, we were once again inspired by a self-affirming message, as Beyoncé’s lyrics make clear the importance of recognizing and celebrating one’s own worth. To create this powerful ensemble, we first thermoformed the black velvet, to prepare ring-like settings for each of the multiple spots where we would be placing a gem-cut crystal. And, once our craftsmen had placed all those sparkling gems on the gown, hood and hat, the polka-dot pattern became evident—for this piece clearly references Monsieur Balmain’s distinctive love of including unexpected, clever spins on petit-pois patterns in many of his post-war couture collections, and Beyoncé and I had plenty of archival references to guide us, as we built upon that distinctive house signature.”
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That's that keep going, that's that never stop
Metal and crystal reversed-chandelier illusion skirt. Black-velvet bodysuit; black-velvet turban. Tassel chandelier earrings.
“Sensual, rich and with a pulsing backbeat, THIQUE has definitely been pulling people out to the dancefloor ever since RENAISSANCE dropped last summer. Our THIQUE design started out as one of those “hey, I know it would probably be impossible, but…” conversations between Beyonce and me—one that somehow ended up resulting in a first-of-its-kind reality. First, we sketched out our dream chandelier skirt, referencing some of our Parisian favorites. Then we turned to the Balmain Atelier artisans to construct our first concepts in tulle and boning, guiding them in the creation of a perfect basque to echo the sensual curves celebrated in THIQUE. Once we had those early steps finalized, it was starting to become clear to us exactly how and where we needed to place our metal pieces—and that’s when we could finally begin the process of actually creating our chandelier couture. We then 3D printed out our revised chandelier plans, and called upon the experts at Le Chemin des Maquettes to craft the final lustre in perfectly curved metals and a multitude of different sizes of carved crystals. Skillful placements of hidden hinges allow for entrance and exits, as well as ease in walking. The look is balanced by the sleek velvet body’s powerful Balmain shoulders—and we finished it all off with chandelier-crystal earrings, of course!”
Baby, that's that thique
Hammered brass and crystal pendants illusion bustier. Black-velvet bodysuit; black-velvet turban. Tassel chandelier earrings.
“Beyoncé and I managed to make one of our most outlandish dreams into a reality, relying on the perfect combo of expert couture artisans, inspiring Parisian chandeliers and the patient and skilled craftsman of Le Chemin des Maquettes. I love how the beauty of our final result just appears so simple and so very right—it doesn’t even hint at all the complex construction, mathematics, tech and engineering that went into the construction our THIQUE-inspired, extremely ballroom, couture chandelier design.”
I try to get all up in your mind
ALL UP IN YOUR MIND
Feather-embroidered fan paired with black velvet and satin jumpsuit and gloves.
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“Beyoncé and I dreamt up this exuberant trompe l’œil as a loving tribute to New York’s legendary ballroom scene—and it was our Balmain artisans that made it all possible, beautifully creating the boning, baleines, precise tailoring, plissé—everything!—which was then finally combined with exquisite feather embroidery, to create this striking, life-sized éventail (fan) for the ballroom.”
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Boy, you can't get no higher than this No 'Cause love don't get no higher than this No, no
AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM
Crimson velvet draped jumpsuit 3D-printed bustier electroplated in gold chrome
“With lyrics like Boy, you can't get no higher than this, it’s very clear that this song is all about the supreme confidence of someone who has no doubt they’re simply the best. So, to interpret all that poise and assurance, we turned to an attention-grabbing, red-carpet evoking, crimson velvet, which was perfectly cut and draped by the artisans inside the Balmain atelier. It is paired with a singular golden bustier, which was 3D-printed and then galvanized for the ideal mix of lightness and sheen.”
It should cost a billion to look this good
Graphic ensemble embroidered with sequins and feathers, draped earrings in metallic mesh and black jersey turban
"RENAISSANCE pays tribute to the ballroom community with the song PURE/HONEY, sampling legends Moi Renee and Kevin Aviance, along with MikeQ’s Feels Like (Featuring Kevin JZ Prodigy). Since Beyoncé and I were determined to channel that same infectious club bop and exuberant joy into this design, we agreed that an attention-demanding luster paired with a wild mix of maximum-graphic patterns was definitely the way to go. Our artisan’s impressive flat-sequin embroidery work helped to generate the boldest possible statement, blending together elements of psychedelic, harlequin, marinière and zebra patterns. Their embellishment work is perfectly complemented by the exquisite black-and-white featherwork from Maison Fevrier, which has long been celebrated for creating incredibly stunning plumage seen on both Paris’ haute couture runways and the city’s legendary cabarets. To give the corset that eye-catching shimmer, our traditional laced-corset design was reimagined via 3D printing, and then given the perfect gleaming finish by the same experts who are responsible for the high-gloss sheen on France’s sleekest jets and high-speed trains. And, because too much is never enough, once they finished with their spray painting, we made sure to add a final coat of varnish, to ensure max shine."
It's so good, it's so good, it's so good, it's so good, it's so good
Wig, cape and short strapless dress—all embroidered with lurex fringes, crystals and rhinestones
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“To match the outright joyful spirit of the disco-flavored final track on RENAISSANCE, with its blend of rounds of applause and those amazing high notes from Beyoncé, as she channels Donna Summer’s classic I Feel Love, Bey and I knew that we had to aim for nothing short of absolute celebratory extravagance. The minimalism of the short, perfectly tailored Balmain dress, with its bustier construction and horizontal lines, pairs seamlessly with the maximalism of the long cape that is definitely designed to be placed upon the shoulders of a disco queen, with its impressive vertical mass and matching wig. It’s all pulled together by the multitude of silver fringes. Each of those strands having been deftly constructed by our house artisans, who melded together three different sparkling, shining and shimmering materials to create each perfect twinkling filament—and, once they’re all grouped together, they form an it's so good ensemble for our SUMMER RENAISSANCE dance floor.”
CreditsRenaissance Couture by Beyoncé x Balmain
Co-Designers :Beyoncé and Olivier Rousteing
Parkwood Creative Team Photographer :Louie Banks
Lead Stylist :Marni Senofonte
Principle Hair Stylist :Neal Farinah
Principle Makeup Artist :Rokael Lizama
Hair Stylist :Jawara Wauchope
Makeup Artist :Holly Silius
Manicurist :Yoko Sakakura
Casting :Anita Bitton
TALENTS• Fashion Labeija
- • Ebony Riley
- • Amber Later
- • Hanne Gaby Odiele
- • Kerolyn Soares
- • Xue Huizi
- • Memphis Murphy
- • Shanelle Nyasiase
- • Dominique Silver
- • Akuol Deng Atem
- • Mamuor Awak
- • Jesus Maria