Beyonce’s latest chart-topping album hit stores less than a month ago. But it is not the singer’s music that has the fashion world buzzing. The artist’s fourth album, titled 4, features a fold-out cover that looks more like a glossy fashion magazine spread than a record sleeve.
As with other leading pop divas like Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry, fashion has always played a big role in Beyonce’s artistic persona. In her music videos, she uses outfits to take on different roles, while onstage, revealing ensembles spice up her live performances. The difference this time is in her choice of designers. Instead of sticking to major fashion houses like Versace, Gucci, Prada or Chanel, the singer has thrown the spotlight on a number of up-and-coming designers whose names are likely to be unfamiliar to all but the most die-hard fashion followers.
Beyonce’s creative director, Jenke-Ahmed Tailly, along with the singer’s stylist, Ty Hunter, pointed her in the direction of these designers. “The album is a musical gumbo of everything Beyonce likes,” Tailly said in a phone interview. “Each song really has a different personality, so we decided to do the cover like an editorial for a magazine, with each song having its own style.”
The album’s cover image illustrates the singer’s embrace of under-the-radar creators and features Beyonce wearing a fox-fur stole by the cult French designer Alexandre Vauthier embellished with Swarovski crystals by the Lesage embroidery house. Vauthier’s work also shows up inside the foldout cover, as does a pair of Daisy Duke shorts by the young French designer Julien Fournie, who founded his brand only three years ago.
Even student designers got a look-in: Lleah Rea, who just received her BFA in fashion design this spring from Parsons the New School for Design, created a form-fitting bodysuit for the album spread.
“It was important to Beyonce that the choice of clothing not be about the brand but about the quality of the work,” said Tailly, who, with the creative consultant Melina Matsoukas, brought Rea’s designs to the singer’s attention.
For the “deluxe” version of the album, which features extra songs and remixes, a photograph of Beyonce in a purple-and-black beaded dress by the 27-year-old French designer Maxime Simoens replaced the fur stole as the cover image. On the back of both versions of the album, the singer is photographed in a vintage Azzedine Alaa jacket and some gravity-defying high heels by the 36-year-old Dutch designer Jan Taminiau.
Having Beyonce wear their creations has already helped these niche designers garner a higher visibility on the global fashion stage.
Vauthier, for example, has seen his collaboration with the singer evolve. For her appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in Britain last month, Beyonce wore a gold minidress by Vauthier, chosen at the last minute over a planned ensemble at the suggestion of Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, the designer said. Worn with a wide belt and a pair of black hot pants, that outfit helped generate a lot of interest in Vauthier.
“I dress women who have something to say,” said Vauthier, who clothed Rihanna for the cover of her single Hard, and whose designs have been worn by the pop singer Roisin Murphy and by Sophia Loren and Isabelle Huppert.
Tailly, Beyonce’s creative director, said that the singer’s quest to collaborate with new artists did not end with the clothing. Beyonce also tapped the young French photographer Greg Gex, alongside renowned photographers like Ellen von Unwerth and Tony Duran, to shoot the cover art.
“I showed her his work,” Tailly said, “and she decided to give him a chance.”
Warren Hsu (許華仁) sees chocolate making as creating art and performing magic. Zeng Zhi-yuan (曾志元) “talks” to his cacao beans and compares the fermenting process to devotedly caring for a child. Despite their different products and business models, the two helped put Taiwanese chocolate on the map in 2018 at the prestigious International Chocolate Awards’ (ICA) World Finals when Hsu’s Fu Wan Chocolate (福灣) claimed two golds, five silvers and two bronzes, while Zeng took home four golds. That year, Taiwanese chocolatiers burst through the gates with a total of 26 medals, an impressive feat given that many locals don’t
Chen Zhiwu (陳志武) says that the COVID-19 crisis puts into sharp focus that we are in a new cold war, with China and the US being the two protagonists. “It’s almost literally in front of us,” says Chen, Director of Asia Global Institute and Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Hong Kong. Political observers were hesitant, Chen says, even up to the beginning of this year, to confirm a new cold war was underway. “But ... the coronavirus has made clear the clash in values and way of life between what China would like to pursue, and what
In Japan — where they take their cats very seriously — they call Yuki Hattori the Cat Savior. He is so popular that he saw 16,000 patients last year, and crowds regularly queue up to hear him talk about neko no kimochi (a cat’s feelings), while people from all over Japan make the pilgrimage to his practice. Sometimes clients turn up from further afield. “One flew in from Iraq for a personal consultation,” Hattori says, “without his cat, due to border quarantines.” In Japan’s rarefied world of cat doctors, the vet Hattori is very much a superstar — but now there
For tourists visiting Hualien, Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園) is the first order of business. But if you find yourself in the city with half a day to spare — your train back to Taipei will leave mid-afternoon, say — it’s hardly worth busing out to Taroko Gorge. Instead, borrow or rent a bicycle or a scooter, or hail a cab, and set out for one of these attractions. At only one of these places is there an admission charge. CISINGTAN SCENIC AREA A literal translation of Cisingtan (七星潭) would be “Seven Stars Pond,” but there’s no pond here, just the vast Pacific