Beyonce's Stylist B. Akerlund on Finding the Perfect Yellow Dress for 'Lemonade'
“The dress had it all,” says Akerlund of the Roberto Cavalli stunner. Slay!
You likely know costume designer/stylist extraordinaire B. Akerlund’s work from Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show as well as Beyonce’s “Partition,” “Superpower,” “Pretty Hurts” and “Haunted” videos (not to mention, Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch”), but she was also the style guru behind a certain yellow Roberto Cavalli dress that broke Twitter over the weekend.
Here, Akerlund, who splits time between Stockholm and Los Angeles (where she runs a showroom, The Residency, and curates looks for about 40 designers), gives us all the details on Queen Bey’s enviable “mustard” dress from Lemonade’s “Hold Up” video.
What was the inspiration?
My husband Jonas [Akerlund], the director of “Hold Up,” just insisted on a yellow dress — that was his vision from day one. He kept saying, “yellow dress, yellow dress, yellow dress.” So I basically got every yellow dress from here to the moon.
How far in advance did you prep for the shoot?
For this project, I actually had less than a week.
How many total looks did you style?
I had two looks for Beyonce [the yellow dress and a swimsuit], but I did everybody else as well, so all of the background [in the video] — it was like a whole world. In terms of the total number of looks, let’s just say that I had a truck. I travel with a truck. But, the rule is that you have two favorite racks and then everything else is backup.
How did you decide on the yellow dress?
We had another outfit already chosen [to wear], and then that yellow Roberto Cavalli dress showed up a day late because it was right off the runway [from fall 2016 collection]. We weren’t feeling the other dress and we put on the Cavalli and in that moment knew it was the ultimate vision of what that video needed to be.
What made it the “ultimate” dress?
Everything from that it was flowing to it was see-through to it had all these different shapes and was still sexy ... the dress had it all. Ultimately, the yellow dress is what makes it [the video] iconic and memorable and stands out. Yellow is a color that we’re feeling really strong about — it’s coming back as a statement.
You mentioned that you called in “every yellow dress,” but were they all the same shade or did you try a range of yellows?
We tried different shades, but yellow can be very wrong when you go more lemon-y. I knew that mustard yellow was the perfect shade for Beyonce — it just enhances her skin color and it’s vibrant, but you still feel fashion and it doesn’t become goofy.
How would you describe the female character you created in “Hold Up”— she’s wielding a bat, but wearing ruffles and lace?
With the context of the video being a little bit violent, we were really looking for something of the opposite to make it flirty and positive and sexy and to sort of enhance a woman’s strengths. You can be emotional, but yet sexy and strong without giving too much.
What accessories did you add to the Cavalli dress?
The shoes are Saint Laurent, and I mixed a lot of jewelry. Beyonce’s wearing a hand piece, an anklet and a body chain by Jacquie Aiche; a Lynn Ban diamond-cuff earring and ring — it looks like a big cuff that's hanging on her right ear; a Jennifer Fisher cigar ring; Fallon gold hoop earrings; a custom-made Kismet by Milka “B” ring; and a bracelet by Le Vian. I’m a bit of a jewelry freak ... I’m totally obsessed with too much accessories.
What was the inspiration for the swimsuit look?
When she goes underwater, it was like a whole concoction that I did — it was a Norma Kamali swimsuit and a metal mesh top from Natalia Fedner [a chainmaille couturier]. It was all mixed together to become this nude illusion — yet leaving a bit of fashion. And, she wore Fallon earrings.
Can you tell us anything about the baseball bat, a.k.a. “Hot Sauce” in the video?
I actually didn't actually have a hand in it — I think it was something that my husband art-directed.
Lastly, you’ve worked on several projects with Beyonce, but do you have one favorite look?
My favorite is O2 [their first collaboration] because I feel like that is my aesthetic down to the nine — it was all custom-made and exactly my vision. Usually, when I have a little bit more time [more than a week], I tend to have a vision and I try to create it from scratch.