Black is King was more than just a visual album: it was an onslaught of fashion, beauty, and style, celebrating the rhythm and flavors of Africa. Every designer involved in helping to create this masterpiece spent months divining looks that would pop on screen, and the process was nothing short of transcendent!
We tapped several designers, including Tongoro Studio, 5:31 Jerome, Alejandro Collection and more about the process of creating their looks*:
Alejandro of Alejandro Collection writes, “We started months in advance in the creation and masterminding process with the brilliant Zerina Akers. We changed shapes, colors, [and] textures numerous times as the settings, locations and moods changed to be ahead of fashion as Zerina and Beyonce are accustomed to doing. It feels astronomically surreal. My team and I are still processing. My business has exploded and fan base and following keeps growing. Life has changed forever🙏🏽”
He added, “The design started when my jewelry designer friend Laurel Dewitt asked me to submit sketches to Zerina as options within the visuals they had in mind. I pushed for the blue lux fabrication, and the rest, as they say, is history.”
“Fun fact the train is 16 feet long.” Wow!
Greek designer Vrettos Vrettakos designed a shimmering, “crystal couture dress, created in collaboration with Swarovski.”
Vrettakos tells us, “We started to prepare the dress 5 months ago. We ordered the materials inspired from the Colors of Africa, [and] embellished the dress with crystal jewel fringes with the same crystals colors. [After] ...we made the custom thigh high boots, totally decorated in Swarovski crystals. [It took] about one month and half to finish.”
“We feel so excited and so passionate because this is not only another project. It’s a master social expression with feelings, thoughts, beliefs…It’s a real story about knowledge, art, fashion, music, [and Beyonce is making history]. All this got life from the genius mind and artist Zerina Akers. I am so grateful to be apart of this multicultural puzzle with amazing and super talented artists from all areas. And this is the hope that the art is a valuable, unstoppable [movement]… A [movement] able to change the world and share the message that yes…. Black is King.”
The designer Deviant la Vie writes, “Last year another designer named Timeekah Murphy from Alani Taylor (@alanitaylorco) and I collaborated on a project called the Zenith experience. It was to showcase our top work at the time. The goal was to take my rope couture and her aesthetic and combine them to create our best work. We both sat in our living room brainstorming and draping a mannequin and came up with 12 pieces. When we designed the white dress, we had Beyonce in mind of course. The hat was the icing on the cake for the look. After the event, we received a call from Zerina’s team and they picked it up.”
“We weren’t sure what it was for but if Zerina calls…you deliver!!! Haha! Timeekah and I are beyond excited! This was our second placement with her as a team. To see the red ropes…the yellow ropes and the white dress in motion is next level! Business is great. This time around we were able to get the credit we were looking to get with both brands.“
Tongoro Studio designer Sarah Diouf writes, “Reviewing the mood board sent by Zerina Akers, I offered options matching Tongoro’s aesthetic, altering some of Tongoro’s classics such as the NGOR dress, to get a more editorial feel.”
“Our fashion love story with Beyonce started in July 2018, when she first wore our Zanzi set and Dress during her vacation in Italy, followed up with her trip to South Africa and the Lion King “Spirit” video last summer. To be able to see consistency in the use of our designs by an artist of her magnitude is such a blessing for a brand like ours – African – and Made in Africa. To be part of Black is King is even more symbolic and I’m very grateful for Zerina Akers and Beyonce.”
In closing, Diouf writes, “Following the first Beyonce x Tongoro moment, our business and notoriety have grown tremendously. I’m confident that it will only bring more exposure, and financial growth.”
Keama Garrett of the brand KEÄMA writes, “Everything moved really fast. In August my stylist sister Beoncia Dunn called on a Sunday to see if I could make a dress. [She asked] if I was in the studio and I said, ‘I’m always in the studio. Come over!’ So she told me Zerina wanted a dress !!!!! And that’s when I started sketching and sketching…until Zerina liked the final design. She loves drama and length!! The process went fast. I only had a few days to make the dress because of the intense fast shoot schedule. It was the best call of my life.”
She continues, “As a young black fashion designer life has been hard trying to make it in the fashion industry, especially [at the] luxury level. My designs aim to highlight Black women and black culture in the best light possible. We are beautiful. When I was younger I didn’t realize being a black artist of any kind is a form of a rebellion. So I internalized a lot of my white professor’s criticism about my designs and inspiration.”
“Even though they didn’t understand the source of the inspiration (the Essence of blacknesss) or even cared to do the research. I feel Blessed and Validated. I always told myself if I just did the work and kept on doing the work, [eventually I was going to meet the right people]. [I am] definitely grateful to be aligned with my sis Beoncia Dunn, as she challenged me to rise up!
In closing, she writes, “Black is King was a true gift. The movie really has healing powers and has been shifting the narrative of how black is viewed. My mission is to highlight black women in luxury fashion. I have studied the greats. There are many black [female] fashion houses that have been lost during the times of struggle. Black people are often the source of “inspiration” but often left out of the presentation. “
“I’ve seen it time and time again. To be on someone’s mood board is one thing. To be apart of making the product is another. We deserve to be apart of the whole design process (in the room) and down to the payment of product. This is how we build a black fashion legacy. The time is now!”
Venny Etienne of the brand Levenity says, “We started working on the piece last year August and it took us a total of 68 hours to complete the jacket within 4 days.”
He says, “Zerina wanted to make sure I stayed true to my structural aesthetic and design something that has a strong silhouette yet with a bold print and color. I provided about 6 sketches and we both fell in love with the structure of the one that was chosen. Knowing that I had to build this extended shoulder I had to really focus on the construction. So my design team and I stayed up many nights making sure that the garment would withstand with normal movement. We added a boning infrastructure into the shoulders to keep it elevated. It was a new process for me as a designer and am glad that Zerina pushed me to achieve the look we actually wanted to execute.”
He says, “I still cannot believe this is all happening. I feel blessed, honored and grateful. Grateful because Zerina believed in me and my capability to deliver what was needed within a short time frame. She has access to any designer, yet she took her platform and built our own community up by including “us” in the narrative. I am forever thankful.”
Samantha Garvey of Sew Me Haute/ S Garvey Collection
Samantha Garvey of Sew Me Haute writes, “I had only 3 days to create the bodysuits. I actually made multiple looks, probably 10 peices in less than a week! I didn’t sleep for more than 3 hours in a week, running around fabric shopping and doing drop-offs and pickups were insane (I also was working a temp job at the time).”
She continues, “The design came to fruition when Beoncia Dunn reached out to me August 2019, asking if I would be able to create enclosed bodysuits for Beyonce’s dancers for a project they were working on; In just a a few days! That same night I created a sample to show that I was capable of creating a look and fast. A few days later, Zerina, Beoncia and I went to the fabric store to source textures/colors for the looks that I created in sketches. They loved the floral idea so much, they scrapped the solid colors and told me Bey loved it and was going to wear one!“
She concludes, “I’ve been going under a rebranding process, so its been insane! I’ve been getting more press reaching out and now people are learning about myself and my brand…the sales on my site are going crazy. I’ve been inspired to create what I want to again, not [just] what I feel is wearable. It’s been inspiring to be apart of this historical moment. We as designers, black designers at that, were given a voice…we see our designs stolen and never get the credit where it’s due. [Not this time].“
Bomb brand 5:31 Jerome experienced a resurgence with Black is King! Designer Jerome Lamaar says, “The whole process began last year in August for me, when Zerina requested some sketches. Zerina and Beyonce chose which looks from the designs worked best, and it was my job to manifest it into reality!!! The best part was creating this new vision that has not existed before. “
He continues, “I’m humbled that I was granted this opportunity to create something for this very powerful body of work. I revisited my brand after years of not designing to create something special for Beyonce. I am in a different place creatively and this was the perfect opportunity to make something that felt right for me.”
In closing, Lamaar says, “As a man of color, from the Bronx, and self made, it’s important that we acknowledge how powerful this moment is for designers of color after fighting to be noticed. I finally feel this project is a huge shift for designers all around the world. The magic I speak about is the art of being seen….Beyonce , Zerina, KWASI and everyone who worked on this made it happen.”
See all the fashion from Black is King here.
*Answers have been edited for clarity.
**Shop Bomb Designers at FashionBombDailyShop.com.