Beyoncé wouldn’t have deserved the CFDA fashion icon award before Lemonade, the Washington Post argued. The visual album reveled in a multiplicity of conflicting emotions, as its costuming did in a multiplicity of styles and eras. There was no clear category, no cohesive character, just a powerful illustration that life’s a mess, and so are emotions, and so can be style.
Regardless of whether she would have deserved the award before the album or not,Beyoncé’s message rang clear. More impolitely put, shame on the labels that wouldn’t dress “four black country curvy girls”. And all hail designers that empower souls, souls that as she so rightly stated, are without color, shape or form.
If we are going to have a diverse fashion world however, one in which more than 3 African American designers showcase at major fashion weeks, one in which #CFDAssowhite would be an inappropriate hashtag, one in which Africa’s participation in the global fashion world is much more than the appearance of the savanna as backdrops for other brands’ ethnic collections, we’ll have to go to the source.
Practical steps in the US will involve much more than a few token designers and a few token icons receiving awards. Practical steps include funding art education for public schools in the US. Practical steps at home in Africa will involve much more then holding fashion weeks and declaring them an avenue for international recognition. Practical steps will involve rethinking art education in curricula, they will involve investing in talent that can credibly compete on its own merit.
On a lighter note, here’s a board in case you’d like to borrow some fashion ideas from Lemonade. We love the whites and off-whites on her dancers — perfect color for summer! And we’re totally into the big volume sleeves!