Beyoncé’s highly anticipated visual album “Black Is King” dropped Friday on Disney+. The film, which is based on tracks from The Lion King: the Gift soundtrack she released last year, is a celebration of Black culture and African traditions, and she didn’t disappoint with the fashion!
“With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy,” she wrote on Instagram ahead of the film’s premiere. “I spent a lot of time exploring and absorbing the lessons of past generations and the rich history of different African customs. While working on this film, there were moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed, like many others on my creative team, but it was important to create a film that instills pride and knowledge.”
Working with stylist Zerina Akers, Beyoncé showcased and incorporated everything from major luxury label runway looks to custom pieces by independent Black designers. Haitian-American, Dallas-based designer Venny Etienne known for dressing stars like Niecy Nash and Cardi B, and former Project Runway contestant made her custom yellow floral jacket.
According to an interview by DMagazine, Etienne has been keeping the Beyoncé news under wraps for nearly a year now. But he’d been dreaming of creating for the megastar long before then.
In a 2015 Facebook post, Etienne declared, “(Speaking into existence) Beyoncé WILL wear one of my garments by 2020 (5 yr plan – Vision Board).” Now, that vision has come to life as the singer dons one of Etienne’s signature, structured jackets in the Black Is King film.
Etienne took four days off his full-time job as an accountant to focus on creating the pivotal look, which took about 65 hours to construct. Beyonce’s team asked him for a strong look, so he decided to make a jacket with bold statement shoulders. Etienne says his upbringing in New York steers him to create more structured pieces while his Haitian background pushes him toward bright colors and patterns. For Beyonce’s jacket, he wanted to draw all his influences together.
Etienne knew he had a desire to be immersed in the fashion industry when he started styling for local church fashion shows in his hometown of Brooklyn at the age of 20. He attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and later transferred to Wade College in Dallas. He graduated Salutatorian of his class, receiving a BA in merchandising and design and the Founders Award, the highest award given to a student of the graduating class.
Currently residing in Dallas, Venny credits this move for his evolution as a designer. While many thought leaving New York would be detrimental for his career, he was quickly embraced by the Dallas fashion scene and made a name for himself through networking and local fashion shows. In 2018, Venny won the 2018 Fashion Group International (FGI) Rising Star in Dallas.
Congratulations Venny! Black Is King is available to stream on Disney+.