Skip to content

‘Black is King’ References Various African Traditions through Fashion

A literal feast for the senses, Beyoncé’s latest effort ‘Black is King’ is a retelling of the Lion King story that pays homage to richness and diversity of African culture. In collaboration with her lead stylist, Zerina Akers, Beyoncé sought to showcase African traditions by deploying the creativity and artistry of fashion designers across the diaspora. Thanks to fashion historian, Darnell-Jamal Lisby, we get an in-depth look at the connection between the fashions and their origins. Although Beyoncé worked with many fashion houses like Burberry, Valentino, and Mugler, there was a concerted effort to present a range of work by Black and other designers of color on par with their heavyweight fashion peers. Designers like Jerome LaMaar, Loza Maléombhoa, and Alon Livné and labels like Tongoro Studio interpreted traditional symbols from various African cultures to pay homage to the continent’s artistic richness. Setting name recognition aside and looking at pure materiality and narrative, the styles throughout Black is King are cohesive and electrifying, allowing the inspirational perspective of each designer to add to the captivating story and highlight the multitudes of African people and cultural traditions.