Celebrity Style

The Story Behind Beyoncé’s 3 Epic Dubai Performance Looks

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The superstar put local designers center stage for her invite-only show at the Atlantis the Royal hotel.

With a stage perched on the tip of Palm Jumeriah—the famous 17-fronded palm tree-shaped island in Dubai—the setting for Beyoncé’s show at Atlantis the Royal hotel last night was spectacular to begin with. The invite-only crowd included the likes of Kendall Jenner, Black Panther actor Letitia Wright, and several members of the star’s family, among them her husband Jay-Z, her mother Tina Knowles-Lawson, her father Matthew Knowles, and five-year-old twins, Rumi and Sir. 

Fireworks lit up the bay as the superstar emerged wearing a halo-like lucite headpiece and singing Etta James’s “At Last,” a song she memorably performed at President Obama’s inauguration in 2015. She then segued from a triumphant performance of “Halo,” arguably her most rousing power ballad, to a flawless rendition of “Ave Maria.” Behind her, 48 members of the all-female Dubai-based orchestra Firdaus were dressed in red sequins and glittering tiaras. 

The first look—a lemon-yellow floor-length gown encrusted with tiny shiny acrylic shards from the waist down—was the work of Omani designer Rayan Al Sulaimani. Her Dubai-based, mother-daughter owned eveningwear label, Atelier Zuhara, is known for its intricate craftwork, including a signature mosaic appliqué which combines laser cutting and handwork. The dress came finished with a dramatic Marabou feather-studded train that flared out around the superstar’s shoulders much like wings. “We started on that dress back in November,” says Al Sulaimani, who worked with Beyoncé and her stylist KJ Moody on the sunrise-inspired design. “It took us almost a month and half to finish.” 

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That Beyoncé chose to open the concert—her first in four years—wearing a Middle Eastern designer is no accident. The superstar is known to make her most meaningful fashion statements center stage, and last night she took the opportunity to shine the spotlight on regional talent. 

She invited her daughter Blue Ivy to perform with her for the first time with a duet of “Brown Skin Girl.” Dressed in a playful glittering red sequin jumpsuit designed by her grandmother Knowles-Lawson and Timothy White, Ivy showed no signs of stage fright, her adorable waist-length braids swinging as she danced in chunky platform sneakers. “Give it up for my baby, my brown skin girl, Miss Blue Ivy Carter,” Beyoncé said, introducing her 11 year old to the audience. The sweetly choreographed mother-daughter moment was easily the most touching of the night. 

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A third of the way through the 75-minute concert, Beyoncé made her first outfit change into a corseted flame-red bodysuit with a matching train and gloves by Nicolas Jebran. It’s not the first time they have worked together. The Lebanese designer—whose list of celebrity clients includes Jennifer Lopez, Gigi Hadid, and Cindy Crawford—first dressed the singer for the MTV Music Awards in 2014, then again for the Grammys in 2018. Jebran says the full-skirted silhouette was inspired by “royal attire”  with a nod to “Emirati women” and their love of “gold accessories and monochromatic color.” Fittingly, the costume came complete with a sunburst-style crown and pendant 80 carat diamond earrings from Lorraine Schwartz.

Beyoncé changed tack for the finale by tapping the Ukrainian designer Ivan Frolov. Dressed in a powder pink minidress and leggings embroidered with crystals and galvanic fine gold, she glided off the stage and onto the hotel’s shell-shaped fountain belting out “Crazy in Love,” and “the outfit was created in our workshop in Kyiv, Ukraine, during war and massive blackouts,” says Frolov, who launched his eponymous brand in 2015 and continues to live and work in the Ukrainian capital despite the ongoing conflict. “It just goes to show that no matter what, Ukrainian brands continue to showcase the world their resistance and culture.” 

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As the orchestra played the last strains of “Drunk in Love,” Beyoncé rose from the pool amid a stream of water jets, hovering over the crowd on a tiny platform. A final round of fireworks exploded overhead before she disappeared into the smoke, her long pink overcoat trailing behind her.

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This article was originally published on Vogue.com.

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