[Image by Steve Cohen for City Pages]
I was lucky enough to be in the audience for the Beyoncé show on Thursday night at the Target Center. I had been hotly anticipating the event for some time now, especially when I heard all her tour costumes were being designed by the legendary Thierry Mugler. Mugler's trademark strong shoulders, exaggerated hourglass silhouettes, and robotic futurism were ever-present. He said he designed the looks based around the concept of "The duality between being a woman and a warrior" (i.e., Sasha Fierce vs. Beyoncé). It didn't hurt that the show was easily the most entertaining, crowd-pleasing, girl-power-provoking show I've ever seen, and yet it managed avoided veering into bloated overkill or self-indulgence.
But this is a fashion blog, so let's talk fashion.
Beyoncé emerged in silhouette, all the better to show off the sculpted, exaggerated hips of her first costume of the night: A gold, glittering bodysuit with an oversized bow on the rear. (Song list for outfit: "Crazy in Love," "Naughty Girl," "Freakum Dress," "Get Me Bodied.")
[Image by Steve Cohen for City Pages]
This shot really shows off the scuptural quality of the hips:
[Image courtesy New York Post]
For a point of comparison, here are the original sketches done by Thierry Mugler of this first outfit as well as the Grace Jones-esque outfits of her dancers:
We were eagerly awaiting the next outfit change, but the next proved to be the biggest disappointment of the night. It was neither fugly nor stylish - it was just a plain, boring white bodysuit with a white hooded robe. She apparently needed something boring to get the ballads out of the way (i.e., "Smash Into You"):
With the help of her back-up dancers, she was changed onstage into this monstrosity of a wedding gown for an "Ave Maria"/"Angel" (by Sarah McLachlan) medley and "Broken Hearted Girl":
Fortunately that look didn't last too long; her next look was possibly the best of the night, a leather look with softly sculpted shoulders and an abbreviated cone-shaped bust. I couldn't seem to find a good shot of her in her Minneapolis show wearing this look - so I included a shot from a different show of her with George Michael that shows the bust pretty well. (Song list for outfit: "If I Were a Boy"/"You Oughta Know" [Alanis Morissette] medley, "Diva.")
Yes, another outfit change! This was a kind of strange but wonderfully ridiculous Cheetara-esque (of the Thundercats) look. To me, it was a mix of cheetah and motorcycle parts, and though I found the washboard abs of the cheetah bodysuit a bit disconcerting, I dug the metal hips and patterned tights. (Songs performed: "Radio," "Me, Myself and I.")
[No local photos were found of this look; this shot's from a show in Sweden earlier this year.]
It was previewed a few months ago in Marie Claire:
She then took off the metal pieces (the only really interesting part of the look) and added a boring black vest for some unknown reason. (Song list for outfit: "Ego," "Hello.")
[Another non-local shot because it's all I could find]
When she left the stage, her amazingly cool bassist did a bass solo of Michael Jackson songs, highlighted with a behind-the-head trick. She had long blonde dreads and an amazing one-shouldered jacket that was very Tina Turner in Mad Max Thunderdome. I can't seem to find any photos of her, unfortunately.
Then came the visual highlight of the show: Beyoncé rising out from a trapdoor in the stage in a sparkly gold minidress, partially obscured by a ten-foot-long chiffon skirt. When she was suspended nearly to the ceiling of the stadium, she let the skirt drop, and I couldn't hold back a gasp of excitement. She then was transported, Moulin Rouge-style, across the audience, doing flips all the while, wearing amazing seven-inch-high sparkly gold Christian Louboutin "bondage" heels:
Of course, her handlers changed her into a more wearable five-inch heel when she arrived at a small stage in the center of the stadium. She then went on to perform an explosive set of "Baby Boy," "Irreplaceable," "Check On It," "Videophone," and an "Independent Women"/"Survivor"/"Say My Name" medley.
Then she put on a silver beaded gown for "At Last" (accompanied with video of civil rights historical footage and Obama's inauguration) and "Listen" (from Dreamgirls). It was very modern-day Marilyn Monroe. (Again, no great photos of this look.)
Her final outfit of the night, for "Single Ladies" and "Halo" (which included a Michael Jackson tribute) was another favorite. The black and white look seemed inspired by a deck of cards.
[A shot from a Vancouver show]
It's another look that was previewed earlier in Marie Claire with a slightly different bust:
She ended the show with a "Happy Birthday" song for everyone in the audience who was celebrating a birthday...and it so happened mine was in just a couple of hours. Happy birthday to me! Now if only I could get my hands on those gold Louboutins...