The Meaning Behind All of Beyoncé’s Coachella Outfits
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.
The Yellow BAK Hoodie
Her yellow Balmain hoodie was a casual change for Beyoncé, and she styled the look with denim cutoffs and fringe-adorned Christian Louboutin boots that complemented the collegiate style. But what’s the meaning behind the Greek “BAK” letters seen on the sweatshirt? ABC News points out that indeed, she could have been calling out Greek life with her own Beta Delta Kappa sorority, while others think it translates to something more literal: “back,” meaning she finally returned to the spotlight. Other fan theories suggest the “B” and “K” are simply her initials, while the central delta symbol refers to “The Roc” symbol that she has previously thrown up live, honoring her husband’s Roc-A-Fella Records company.
The Mesh Crest Top
The glittery mesh Balmain top she changed into read “Beyonce 2018,” but the crest on it also had an image of an Egyptian royal, a black first, a black panther, and a bee—which people are pointing out are representative of the Black Panther Party plus her fans, which she calls the “Beyhive.” Overall, the look was a reminder that Beyoncé is and has always been a champion of black rights.
The Black Latex Bodysuit and Jacket
Beyoncé kept it sexy in another Balmain look, wearing thigh-high black latex boots that she styled with a matching bodysuit and oversize jacket with bedazzled shoulder pads. Fans noticed that in addition to changing her outfits, Beyoncé also switched up the color of her nail polish.
The Destiny’s Child Survivor Look
Though she didn’t perform “Survivor” with Destiny’s Child, the song’s message of female empowerment is exactly what she put forth in this sparkly, one-shouldered camouflage Balmain bodysuit. Near the end of the show, she suffered from a wardrobe malfunction as her over-the-knee boots fell just below her knees, and the shouldered side of her suit started to fall out. You can see Beyoncé holding on to her chest, securing the look as she danced on stage.