Last night Beyoncé received the 2016 CFDA Fashion Icon Award in New York. It was a surprise appearance. They did not publicise it beforehand, likely at her request. Because…well… because Beyoncé. Her mother was there. Jay Z was there. The Blue Ivy Carter was there (more on the BIC later). She wore Givenchy and I love LOVE this suit so much. She also wore a wide hat, not unlike that hat she wears to open the show in Formation on her tour. And that can’t have been an accident. Her remarks as she accepted her award were intended and intentional. Her remarks were also consistent with the messages of Lemonade – clothes as a threading link between the women in her family, the love embedded in those garments at once her inspiration, her protection, and her redemption. Beyoncé paid tribute to her grandmother, her mother, her uncle, the family unit that dressed her and, therefore, helped to build her image and identity – an experience she shares, in Lemonade, and in this speech, with black women for whom she’s become a beacon. Which is why she also, as she does in Lemonade, take the opportunity to advocate for those who do not have the right skin colour or body shape to wear couture, a metaphor here for acceptance. It’s not subtle either:
“Starting out in Destiny’s Child, high-end labels didn’t really want to dress four black country curvy girls, and we couldn’t afford designer dresses and couture.”
Beyoncé then ends her speech by challenging the fashion industry to be more inclusive.
“We have the opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or magazine cover and see her own reflection.”
Those who can’t with Beyoncé– and I don’t understand these people, but that’s another conversation – often accuse of her of being inside of her own ass. Of course she is. This is the first attribute of superstardom. But here’s your superstar being named a Fashion Icon by the fashion elite and barely using the word “I”.