Rumors surrounding a secret Beyoncé secret photo shoot began to circulate last week after the surfacing and widespread dissemination of an indecipherable paparazzi pic onto the internet.
Clad in full-on Givenchy regalia and joined by the brand's Creative Director, Riccardo Tisci — the mastermind behind the pop queen's bejeweled stocking "dress" worn at this year's Met Gala — Bey can be seen on the roof of a building in New York, mid-conversation.
Discussing what? Who knows. But growing speculation would have us believe that the notoriously cagey diva, who keeps plans of this nature close to the chest and reveals them in the dead of night, may just be the new face of Givenchy.
The pairing seems organic enough, since Tisci considers Bey a member of his #girlgang — a hand-picked assemblage of muses ranging from Ciara to Marina Abramovich to trans model Lea T.
Tisci surrounds himself with these assorted beauties and often plucks one to feature prominently in fashion ads, for surprising and refreshing results. With diversity at the forefront of his creative decisions, the designer has been bold (and wonderfully random) in his choices, tapping Erykah Badu for his Spring 2014 campaign, Julia Roberts for Spring 2015, and just recently, Donatella Versace for Fall 2015.
As Tisci famously told Style.com, a designer's cast of models "…Should have everything that is related to your world and your aesthetic. It doesn’t matter what their race is, what their gender or sexuality is, you should represent beauty — beauty is beauty."
With Bey, though, his inclusive approach to fashion has translated into a slew of memorable collaborations, including three of her "On The Run" tour costumes, which exhorted an edgy panache of patriotism and lawlessness with plenty of stars and studs.
But what would make a collaboration between luxury brand Givenchy and Beyoncé quite unusual — if it turns out to be true — is the notion which New York Times' Vanessa Friedman posited last year: Beyoncé, although a musical legend, is no style icon.
"Beyoncé hasn’t moved, or influenced, the direction of fashion writ large in the way that, say, Rihanna, the winner of this year’s CFDA Fashion Icon award, has. (See, for example, the luxe athletic pieces peppering collections like Pucci, Balmain and Tom Ford.) She doesn’t wear things and spark a million trends, like Madonna once did with her jeweled crosses and lace minis, not to mention her bullet bra corsets. She doesn’t cause items to sell out overnight, like wee Prince George."
Dubbing it the "Beyoncé Paradox", Friedman argued that it's this refusal to lend her face, her personal brand to apparel companies that has kept Bey from becoming a fashion icon in the way that Rihanna or even Miley Cyrus has become. Beyoncé is an expert at selling out stadiums, but she has rarely been able to shill a product that her young, adoring female fans must own, and she has not started fashion crazes that are mimicked and copied.
Beyoncé enjoys fashion and is certainly fashionable, but the pop polymath has shown no certain allegiance to any one designer, any one brand — save her own. Yes, she has fronted one-off collaborations with H&M and Pepsi in the past, but as Friedman put it, "Beyoncé & Company have ensured that the only brand that really has any real staying power is brand Beyoncé; that everything she is selling comes back to her." The success and eventual failure of House of Dereon, the ready-to-wear line she started with her mother, Tina Knowles, proves just that.
Naturally, a stance such as Friedman's was considered controversial, it provoking the ire of the ever faithful BeyHive and prompting New York Magazine's Allison P Davis to champion Bey as the "Everywoman's style icon." But while incendiary, Friedman's words may have portended Bey's alleged teaming up with Givenchy now.
But what exactly does it mean for a household name to merge with such an elite, insidery fashion house? Will Bey's "everywoman" fanbase attempt to join Givenchy's #girlgang, and more over, can they even afford to do so? Speaking with brand consultant Rajni Jacques, it would seem that this presumed alliance has everything to do with "awareness", rather than sheer numbers. "If Givenchy is going to have [Beyoncé] as a spokeswoman, they want that awareness, they want to get the Givenchy name out to so many people because they know she has so many followers…"
33.2 million on Instagram, alone, in fact. And while Givenchy's brand would perhaps gain traction and buzz with Bey's built-in audience, one has to wonder whether the "everywoman" — the typical Beyoncé fan — would be able to afford, say, a $90 Givenchy iPhone case that's currently for sale on Net-a-Porter.
"I think for most brands, once the awareness is out, what usually winds up happening is the accessories are [the items] that become eaten up by the masses. Not the dresses. It's the shoes and the bag. So for a lot of brands, especially for a lot of luxury brands, that's their bread and butter. Hearing the name, [Beyoncé's followers] want to be apart of the story, these girls or [their] husbands go out and buy these wives a Givenchy bag, a Givenchy heel. I think that's how it's going to translate to the masses."
Pointing to Christian Louboutin's covetable red bottoms for example, Jacques surmises a diehard Beyoncé fan may be able to initially connect with the brand through the ground-level of accessories, saving up to purchase an "investment piece" that could translate season to season.
Buying power such as this could manifest into the type of influence within the fashion world Vanessa Friedman so vehemently argues has evaded Bey. Joining forces with a luxury behemoth and moving product could position her on equal footing as Rihanna for Dior or Kim Kardashian for Balmain.
And while she rarely follows in anyone's footsteps, it may, as Jacques presumes, finally give Bey the leverage and positioning she's been after ever since Mama Tina began stitching together her Destiny's Child concert ensembles.
Marjon Carlos is a style and culture writer for Fusion who boasts a strong turtleneck game and opinions on the subjects of fashion, gender, race, pop culture, and men's footwear.