Beyoncé’s choreographer JaQuel Knight called her 2018 Coachella performance “amazing, beyond, iconic, life,” and said that it would “change the game” just days before she even hit the stage Saturday night—and he was right.
After a hiatus away from the spotlight—she canceled her scheduled 2017 Coachella performance because she was pregnant with twins Rumi and Sir Carter—the queen of getting everyone’s attention did just that over the weekend. Her set list included every hit imaginable, from “Crazy in Love” and “Formation” to “Single Ladies” and “Drunk in Love,” and guests like husband Jay-Z, sister Solange, and Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams all hit the stage.
The nearly two-hour performance itself and her army of dancers left the internet with dropped jaws, but it’s her five outfits that has the world quickly Googling for answers and hidden meanings. For her looks, Beyoncé’s stylist Marni Senofonte turned to Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing to create five custom military-inspired outfits she wore with aplomb. Yes, there was one pretty bad wardrobe malfunction, but her wardrobe for next weekend’s performance will reportedly be entirely different, according to Vogue.
VIDEO: The Meaning Behind All of Beyoncé’s Coachella Outfits
In this first round of getups, the fashion managed to drive home one central theme: black pride. During the set, Beyoncé thanked her fans and Coachella for letting her be the first black woman to headline the festival, and she did so unapologetically. As ABC News points out, her first Balmain look (above) was all about channeling the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, a historical figure she’s referenced before. Her dancers kicked off the show with catsuits that also included symbols of the Sphinx. As The Telegraph reports, the tall hat Beyoncé wore is similar to the one found on the bust of Nefertiti in 1912.
In addition, she sampled Nina Simone’s “Lilac Wine,” played an excerpt from Malcolm X’s 1962 “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?" speech, and sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which has been called the “Black national anthem.”
With their costumes and live music, Beyoncé's dancers and band helped honor the black collegiate experience and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which she reportedly works with through her BeyGOOD Initiative’s Homecoming Scholars Award program. It's important to note HBCUs traditionally celebrate black Greek life and have exceptional marching bands like the one she gathered for Coachella. In fact, she hired DrumLine Live, a marching band tour composed of performers from HBCUs, for the show, according to The Los Angeles Times. Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee also positively called out Beyoncé’s HBCU references on Twitter.
How else did she honor black culture? Scroll down for the meaning behind her four other head-turning looks.