Beyonce Music Video Stylist on Surprise Album, Jay Z's Outfit Demand (Q&A)
Lysa Cooper, who also worked on Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious" music video, says she "had no idea" about the record's release and found out while listening to morning radio.
Beyonce surprised the world when she dropped her fifth studio album, Beyonce, on iTunes late Thursday night. The 32-year-old singer opted to release her album without marketing or promos -- and the plan worked in her favor, with Beyonce selling over 80,000 copies in three hours. Even Hollywood lit up the Twittersphere about Bey's surprise.
One particular -- and unlikely -- person to find out with the rest of her fans was one of Beyonce's music video stylists, Lysa Cooper, who worked on five of the 17 music videos for the super secret project. While Cooper knew about the making of Bey's album, she didn't expect it to drop so unexpectedly. Cooper shared, "We all thought it was going to be released by Christmas or maybe after the New Year." Late Friday afternoon, the stylist spoke with Pret-a-Reporter over the phone after a long day of being on-set in the Topanga Hills to say she didn't even know about the record's release until listening to a morning radio station while driving to work.
Cooper, who has worked with the entertainer for many years and also dressed up Destiny's Child for the "Bootylicious" music video, said she was invited by Bey's regular stylist, Ty Hunter, to join three other stylists to tackle the project. Out of the five music videos she helped style, she said "Drunk in Love," featuring Jay Z, was her favorite. She revealed that Beyonce "was supposed to wear three different outfits. But when Jay Z saw her outfit, he said [to her], "You're wearing that the whole time."
How does it feel now that everything is out in the open -- all the songs and music videos?
It's hilarious because I had no idea. Nobody knew. They did it without telling anybody that they were releasing it today. We all thought it was going to be released by Christmas or maybe after the New Year. We weren't really sure, so it was a big surprise, and of course, I tend to be different than a lot of people. I don't like to see anything until it's done so it's [going to be] the first time -- I've been on set since 7 this morning -- so I haven't seen it yet. I've only seen the two I did, but I haven't seen the other ones I've done yet. I haven't seen anybody else's yet.
When did you first find out?
I got in the car at 7 a.m. to get to set and I could see that my phone had like 30 messages, a bunch of texts, and I looked on Instagram, which said I had like 60 comments. I've never had that before. I didn't know what it was for, but when I turned on the radio, that's when I heard it. It's so funny because all my friends are like, "Urgh, this totally ruined my day -- now I gotta sit here and watch 17 videos because I'm not doing anything else." My friend called in sick to work.
How did you get involved?
Beyonce split it up between her regular stylist [Ty Hunter], who asked four other stylists to come and do it with him. Each of us did a different group -- I did five of them, B. Akerlund did four, our good friend Marni Senofonte did one or two and a young European stylist [Karen Langley] did two. Ty did the rest [of the videos]. It's such a funny idea because most people would think that would never work. I think it actually came out really well and it's very diverse.
So when did they contact you about joining this massive project?
I mean, I've worked with Beyonce over the years many times. My career was started with Ellen von Unwerth so I'm kind of called in for [styling] sexy. They don't really call me in for the beauty stuff. I did a GQ cover with Terry Richardson recently with her on the cover last February for the Super Bowl issue, so when they were thinking about using Terry, they were like, let's call Lysa. That's when we all started talking about doing videos for all the songs. At first they asked which ones I wanted to do, but I didn't know. I was like, "You decide. What do you mean, which one do I want to do? I want to do them all." I was like, "I'll come when you tell me to come and I'll show up wherever you tell me to show up. What time do I need to be there?" I think I found out like six months ago. She did 17 videos within a four-month period. She's absolutely nuts, but she might actually be one of my favorite clients to work with. She's genuinely kind and funny. I like when she smiles. That’s the Beyonce I think is prettiest and sexiest. I'm very happy that a lot of the edits in the videos I did where she's smiling.
Did you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement?
No, no I didn't have to sign one. Well, they didn't ask me. First of all, they know me so well they know I'm not going to tell anybody anything. I don't really participate in that kind of thing. You'll notice on my Instagram, I rarely share photos of my work. Of course, today I did because I knew it was going to become Beyonce day.
So did you tell anyone about this, then?
I mean, everybody knew what I was doing -- that's what I do for a living, it'd be hard to hide it. And everybody in fashion knows what's going on because you're borrowing all the clothes. There was a lot of social media surrounding "XO" because everyone took photos with their camera. Those were real people -- she just walked into the crowd and performed. There has been tweeting and Instagramming, so her fans were aware.
So which music videos did you work on, specifically?
My favorite one that I did was "Drunk in Love. I also did "XO," "Yonce," "Jealous" and "Blow."
Tell me more about working on "Drunk in Love."
That was shot by Miami, in a private area. It took some time -- well, the props and set took a long time -- but the outfit you see in the video, she was supposed to wear three different outfits. But when Jay Z saw her outfit, he said [to her], "You're wearing that the whole time." She looked so banging there was no need to change. She's wearing an Eres bathing suit, Wendy Nichol dress and all the jewelry is by Jennifer Fisher. The Eres piece is vintage; it's actually my bathing suit from the ’90s.
Can you tell me more about the rest of the videos you worked on?
[I worked on] "XO" -- that's the one shot by Terry Richardson and in Coney Island. It took a long time because that was a night shoot, and plus, we did that in real time with a real crowd. Those are real fans. It was impactful.
What about "Yonce"? How was it working with Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman?
It was shot in Bushwick, New York. I know all the models, I've known them since they started. They're funny as hell. Everybody loves Beyonce. I have never heard somebody say "I don't like her." She could ask anybody and they'd want to be on her video. [The chemistry was] amazing. Every time I've worked with them, it's always been easy. B. Akerlund did more of the costume-y, over-the-top and to be honest, that's usually my thing because I do costumes but it's been really nice to sort of switch it up a bit and have it be about Beyonce, not the clothes. I mean there's beautiful clothes, but it's still about her.
And where is that cool coat from in "Blow"?
That long, crazy, neon tiger-print coat is from Versace -- that coat really made the video.
So, the fashion houses were aware of her project?
Of course, they know what the project is, but they don't know anything else. Everybody wants to keep it hush-hush to have the kind of impact it did.
How did she find the time, considering she's been on tour?
Oh honey, these kids don't sleep. I say that lightly, but at the end of the day, Beyonce has been doing this for a really, really long time. She is incredibly professional. I don't think I've worked with that many people with that work ethic. That's an idea she had. So you know, when you're creating -- why wouldn't you want to put in 110 percent, especially when it's your idea and you believe in it.