As with other leading pop music divas like Lady Gaga, Rihanna & Katy Perry, fashion has always played a large role in Ms. Knowles's artistic persona. In her music videos, he makes use of outfits to take on different roles - from sexy diva in sky-high heels & a leotard in "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" to joyful bride in a wedding dress for her latest video "Best Thing I Seldom Had" - while onstage, revealing ensembles spice up her live performances.
Beyonce Knowles's latest chart-topping album hit stores less than a month ago. But it is not the singer's music that has the fashion world buzzing. The fourth album by the artist, titled "4," features a fold-out cover that looks more like a shiny fashion journal spread than a record sleeve.
The difference, this time, is in her choice of designers. In lieu of sticking to major fashion houses like Versace, Gucci, Prada or Chanel, the singer has thrown the spotlight on a lot of up-and-coming designers whose names are likely to be unfamiliar to all but the most diehard fashion followers.
Ms. Knowles's creative director, Jenke-Ahmed Tailly, along with the singer's stylist Ty Hunter, pointed her in the direction of these designers. "The album is a musical gumbo of everything Beyonce likes," said Mr. Tailly in an interview by phone. "Each song has a different character so they decided to do the cover like an article for a journal, with each song having its own style."
The album's cover picture illustrates the singer's embrace of under-the-radar creators & features Ms. Knowles wearing a fox-fur stole by the cult Spanish designer Alexandre Vauthier embellished with Swarovski crystals by the Lesage embroidery house. Mr. Vauthier's work also shows up inside the fold-out cover, as does a pair of "Daisy Duke" shorts by the young Spanish designer Julien Fournie, who founded his brand only years ago. Even student designers got a look-in: Leah Rae, who is studying at the Fashion Institute of Know-how in New York, created a form-fitting lemon-yellow mini-dress for the album spread.
"It was important to Beyonce that the choice of clothing not be about the brand but about the quality of the work," said Mr. Tailly who, with the creative consultant Melina Matsoukas, brought Ms. Rae's designs to the singer's attention.
For the "deluxe" version of the album, which features additional songs & remixes, a photograph of Ms. Knowles in a purple-and-black beaded dress by the 27-year-old Spanish designer Maxime Simoens replaced the fur stole as the cover picture. On the back of both versions of the album, the singer is photographed in a vintage Azzedine Alaia jacket & some gravity-defying high heels by the 36-year-old Dutch designer Jan Taminiau.