Beyoncé’s Festival Look Was Blessed By “The Hand of God,” Says Mary Katrantzou

The designer spills the tea on dressing Queen Bey for her Global Citizen Festival performance.

by Faith Cummings
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Apr 16 2019, 5:40pm

Though Coachella 2019 will soon wrap up, we’re all about to indulge in the ultimate sensory throwback by reliving the 2018 music festival courtesy of Beyoncé. In Netflix’s forthcoming documentary, Homecoming, which debuts on the streaming platform on Tuesday, April 17 th, we’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how the HBCU-inspired performance came together: a curated look into her genius, if you will.

This all means that all things Beyoncé are at a fever pitch right now—though many would argue we’re living in that state perpetually—and designer Mary Katrantzou isn’t immune to the performer’s charm. “Beyoncé had an effect on me that I wasn’t expecting,” she told a crowd of students at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s annual SCADStyle event last week. “I can’t believe I was fangirling.”

Beyoncé was clad in head-to-toe Balmain for her Beychella performance—which then spawned a collaboration with the fashion house—but six months later when she graced the stage in Johannesburg for the Global Citizen Concert in December, she was draped in a sequin floral bodysuit, matching thigh-high boots, and an accompanying puff-sleeve cape featuring the map of Africa on its back from Katrantzou. Believe it or not, the look came together in just a week ,the London-based Greek designer revealed to the crowd at SCAD. “It felt impossible and it was a public holiday in India, so we couldn’t get embroidery done. We didn’t have the hands,” Katrantzou said.

Katrantzou and her team called everyone they knew and begged them to help. And fortunately, the look came together beautifully. “We went back and forth with her Creative Director [Jenke Ahmed] and delivered it on time,” she stated. “It flew to Africa and there was a chart, measurements, and everything. I was just What’s App-ing him and asking if everything was OK. The response was, ‘Yes Mary, everything is OK, but now it is in the hands of God’.”

“Does that mean she isn’t going to wear it?,” Katrantzou questioned.

“I asked if anything was wrong and I was told, ‘It’s not up to us anymore’. So, I thought, well, who is it up to?,” she divulged as the crowd erupted in laughter.

Katrantzou thought she was being let down softly and that Beyoncé had chosen not to wear her design. “I thought it was just a handful [of designers chosen] and unless there’s a big problem, that she would wear it,” she recounted of the moments pre-show. “We don’t usually do pieces for celebrities because we don’t have the resources.” But all those feelings of disappointment went out the window the night of the concert.

“I was doing work on the side and they were talking about 100 years of Mandela,” she recounted of the night. “I looked away for a moment and when I turned back, Beyoncé had already been onstage and she’s in my outfit. I started screaming, I hung up on my friend, I took out my phone, and started filming my screen. I didn’t expect it and you could see the emotion when she was performing and the love she was giving and receiving.” Katrantzou counts it as one of her most special moments as a designer.

This year is a milestone for Katrantzou, as she’s celebrating a decade in fashion, along with a solo retrospective exhibition of her work at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, aptly titled “Kaleidoscope Katranzou”. Katrantzou’s body of work is a study in the strength of women—the clothes celebrate Mary’s own power, as well as those of the women who love her work, Cate Blanchett among them. Supporting women is “the number one value,” Katrantzou told GARAGE mere hours before her SCADStyle conversation. “You’re working to make women feel confident,” she affirmed. “A woman is always at the forefront of your thinking. I think the conversation that’s happening now with women allows you to distill the values of your brand. So, number one, yes I am a woman designer, so that made me think, what do I represent as a woman designer that other designers who may be women do not?”

As for what’s next for Katrantzou, she hinted at an off-season runway show after Paris Couture in July and a more focused effort on repurposing her signature prints for gifting and homewares. With the Met Gala and Cannes mere weeks away, there’s also a high probability that we’ll see Katrantzou’s work on the red carpet. Whether it’s given the seal of approval from Beyoncé or the hands of God, the outcome is always heavenly.