Let’s call it a Bayou Classic: In the just-released video for Beyoncé’s highly anticipated new single “Formation,” the pop star pays homage to her Creole roots in a spectacular visual feast that stands as one of her most politically progressive and fashion-forward statements yet. Tracing the roots of the Louisiana cultural nerve center from the post-abolition era to present day, Bey catalogs the evolution of the city’s vibrant style and its tumultuous history all at once. Atop a New Orleans police car in a red-and-white Gucci high-collar dress and combat boots, she sits among the ruins of Hurricane Katrina, immediately implanting herself in the biggest national debate on police brutality and race relations in modern day.
Taking to task the continual cultural debate surrounding her own racial and cultural identity head-on, she wears a red maroon puff-shouldered bodysuit as a turn-of-the-century “redbone” and sings a self-affirming message of black beauty: “I like my Negro nose and Jackson 5 nostrils.” Standing in front of a dilapidated mansion, she sneers at and flicks off naysayers from under the brim of a large black chapeau; her waist is whittled down to nothing amid the layers of a floor-length corseted ball gown, while a posse of unnamed men in black stand in solidarity beside her. Even her adorable mini-me, Blue Ivy, declares her self-actualization, rocking a white pinafore and a gravity-defying Afro.
And should you think that feminism is no longer at the forefront of her mind, then consider the anthem of togetherness, “Let’s get in formation,” and the artillery of black female dancers dressed in head-to-toe Gucci monogrammed looks.
Popping into a pair of metallic booty shorts and acid-wash denim to hit the parking lot of a local swap meet with her militia, Bey lets her blonde Afro down. Swinging in the wind, she screams, “I slayyyyyyy!”—and hot damn, doesn’t she, though? And while we’ve certainly seen Bey kill it on several occasions, rarely do we hear from the press-shy star with such raw intensity. In “Formation,” she offers a newfound and triumphant anthem for the black American experience with unprecedented form and fashion.
Beyoncé made a video at the September issue cover shoot:
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