Bey­oncé brings her woman-power ethos to her lat­est ven­ture: Ivy Park, a cloth­ing col­lec­tion that’s all about women kickin’ it!

ELLE (Canada) - - Insider - By Ta­mar Gottesman Pho­to­graphs by Paola Ku­dacki Stylist Samira Nasr

Get in #for­ma­tion: Bey­oncé Knowles-Carter (in a su­per-rare in­ter­view) is talk­ing run­ning the world, be­ing per­fect and why she’s rais­ing Blue Ivy to be a fem­i­nist.

ON THE DOCKET: 1. Show­case new ath­leisure line, Ivy Park 2. Plot launch of new mu­sic la­bel 3. Pre­pare to dom­i­nate Su­per Bowl 4. Pol­ish off top-se­cret “For­ma­tion” video

5. Gear up for all-sta­dium world tour When “Run the World” is your busi­ness plan, your day starts early. At ex­actly 5 a.m., Bey­oncé Giselle KnowlesCarter ar­rives at Mi­moda, a spare mir­ror-walled bare­floored dance stu­dio in cen­tral Los An­ge­les that echoes the im­age she is here to dis­sem­i­nate: that of an ath­lete, suited up in a white jersey and white mesh jacket, stripped of ac­ces­sories and even shoes, hair teased into a corona of Flash­dance curls. A woman who is here to work. Sur­rounded by a trio of dancers who’ve been back­ing her up for years, she re­hearses, for the ben­e­fit of the cam­era, a slo-mo ver­sion of dance se­quences that we later learn are part of “For­ma­tion.” In other shots, she stands alone, still and com­mand­ing, star­ing straight into the cam­era with­out so much as an ac­ci­den­tal blink. The en­vi­ron­ment is re­laxed, up­beat, as she and the dancers joke and laugh. But make no mis­take: This is a tightly man­aged op­er­a­tion.

It’s an op­er­a­tion run, down to the last de­tail, by a su­per­star-in-chief worth, ac­cord­ing to Forbes, an es­ti­mated $250 mil­lion as of 2015. Among the op­er­a­tion’s lat­est de­vel­op­ments: Through a new mu­sic-la­bel arm of her eightyear-old com­pany, Park­wood En­ter­tain­ment, Bey­oncé will soon be de­liv­er­ing to the world a cadre of young artists whose sound and im­age she has per­son­ally groomed and fos­tered. And then there’s Ivy Park—not just an­other flashin-the-pan celebrity col­lab but a joint ven­ture with Topshop that was years in the mak­ing be­cause when Bey­oncé signs on, she gets her hands dirty. She shapes each pro­ject, she runs it and, yes, she owns—or at least co-owns—it. And she ex­pects its im­pact to ex­tend be­yond the fis­cal. As far as its founder is con­cerned, Ivy Park isn’t just a bunch of logo sweats, mesh bas­ket­ball tops, fish­net-de­tail body­suits and hy­per-re­fined leggings; it’s a way to push a feel-good woman-power ethos, to de-em­pha­size per­fec­tion­ism, to value strength over beauty and to in­spire, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, “women to work with, not against, their bod­ies.” (Bey­Hive-trivia alert: The singer’s lucky num­ber, four—the date of her birth­day, Jay Z’s birth­day and their wed­ding an­niver­sary—ap­pears sub­tly through­out; the name Ivy—shared, of course, by her four-year-old daugh­ter, Blue Ivy—is re­port­edly in­spired by the Ro­man nu­meral IV.) Bey­oncé’s mea­sure of Ivy Park’s suc­cess: “For me,” she says, “it won’t be real un­til I see women at the gym, in the park and on the street wear­ing the col­lec­tion, sweat­ing in it and lov­ing it.”

That the myth sur­round­ing Bey­oncé’s iden­tity, and her mu­sic, swells with each chap­ter of her ca­reer is due in large part to sheer prow­ess: She’s the most-nom­i­nated woman in Grammy his­tory, with 20 awards and 53 nom­i­na­tions. She has sold more than 120 mil­lion solo al­bums. As she puts it her­self in “For­ma­tion,” “Some­times I go off, I go hard / Get what’s mine, I’m a star / ’Cause I slay.”

But the myth-build­ing is also due to her si­lence. As Yale pro­fes­sor Daphne A. Brooks noted in The New York Times last year, “She’s been able to reach this level of star­dom in which she’s man­aged...hy­per-vis­i­bil­ity and inac­ces­si­bil­ity si­mul­ta­ne­ously.” For three years, she has been all but mum in the press, let­ting the work speak for it­self—cul­ti­vat­ing a sense of mys­tery and, in this all-ac­cess era, an ex­otic re­move that is it­self a show of power—while scat­ter­ing pixie-dust in­ti­ma­cies via (mostly cap­tion­less) pic­tures on In­sta­gram.

So the fact that, two weeks af­ter our shoot, she un­leashed “For­ma­tion” with­out a whis­per of pro­mo­tion was, of course, no sur­prise at all. That’s just how Bey­oncé rolls. Af­ter all, who needs buzz when you can rack up seven mil­lion YouTube views in 24 hours with­out it? With ar­rest­ing im­agery—the singer sprawled atop a sink­ing New Or­leans po­lice car; a young black boy danc­ing be­fore a line of white po­lice of­fi­cers in riot gear; Blue Ivy sway­ing sweetly to the lyric “I like my baby heir with baby hair and Afros”—the video in­stantly be­came part of on­go­ing pub­lic discourse about race and crim­i­nal-jus­tice re­form in Amer­ica. While some po­lice ac­cused her of bait­ing them, oth­ers, like the Tampa Po­lice Depart­ment, have been tak­ing to Twit­ter to de­fend her (“What?! @Tam­paPD of­fi­cers have been in #for­ma­tion for days sign­ing up to keep the #Bee­hive [ sic] safe! #Truth #Fact). As with most things Bey­oncé does—change her hair, write a love song to her hus­band—there wasn’t any­body with­out a point of view on what she should or shouldn’t do.

With “For­ma­tion,” Bey­oncé de­clared her­self an artist will­ing to use her power to pro­voke dif­fi­cult but nec­es­sary con­ver­sa­tions about the most fraught top­ics in Amer­i­can life. In other words, she’s not just go­ing to keep wear­ing her crown; she’s go­ing to keep earn­ing it—“I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it”—ev­ery step of the way. Here, she talks about what peo­ple don’t un­der­stand about her work and why even de­sign­ing a line of leggings can be a fem­i­nist act. Let’s start with Ivy Park. How long has that been in the works? “I’ve been shop­ping at Topshop for prob­a­bly 10 years now. It’s one of the only places where I can ac­tu­ally shop by my­self. It makes me feel like a teenager. When­ever I was in Lon­don, it was like a rit­ual for me—I’d put my hat down low and have a good time get­ting lost in clothes. I h

think hav­ing a child and grow­ing older made me get more into health and fit­ness. I re­al­ized that there wasn’t re­ally an ath­letic brand for women like my­self or my dancers or friends. Noth­ing as­pi­ra­tional for girls like my daugh­ter. I thought of Ivy Park as an idyl­lic place for women like us. I reached out to Topshop and met with Sir Philip Green [chair­man of its par­ent com­pany, Ar­ca­dia]. I think he was orig­i­nally think­ing I wanted to do an en­dorse­ment deal like they’d done with other celebri­ties, but I wanted a joint ven­ture. I pre­sented him with the idea, the mis­sion state­ment, the pur­pose, the mar­ket­ing strat­egy—all in the first meet­ing. I think he was pretty blown away, and he agreed to the fifty-fifty part­ner­ship.” You’ve done fash­ion lines be­fore. What have you learned from this one? “I’ve learned that you have to be pre­pared. And when you vi­su­al­ize some­thing, you have to com­mit and put in the work. We had count­less meet­ings; we searched for and au­di­tioned de­sign­ers for months. I knew the en­gi­neer­ing of the fab­ric and the fit had to be the first pri­or­ity. We re­ally took our time, de­vel­oped cus­tom tech­ni­cal fab­rics and tried to fo­cus on push­ing ath­let­icwear fur­ther. And be­cause I’ve spent my life train­ing and re­hears­ing, I was very par­tic­u­lar about what I wanted. I’m sweat­ing, I’m do­ing flips—so we de­signed a high-waist leg­ging that’s flat­ter­ing when you’re re­ally mov­ing around and push­ing your­self.”

Which de­tails are you most ex­cited about in the col­lec­tion? “There’s an in­vis­i­ble un­der­lin­ing in our gar­ments that sucks you in and lifts your bot­tom so that when you’re on a bike or when you’re run­ning or jump­ing, you don’t feel that ex­tra re­verb. And there are lit­tle things, like where a top hits un­der your arms and all the ar­eas on a woman’s body we’re con­stantly work­ing on. I was so spe­cific about the things I feel I need in a gar­ment as a curvy woman, and

just as a woman in gen­eral, so you feel safe and cov­ered but also sexy. Ev­ery­thing lifts and sucks in your waist and en­hances the fe­male form. We mixed in some fea­tures found in men’s sports­wear that I wished were in­ter­preted into girls’ clothes. We worked on the straps, mak­ing them more durable for max­i­mum sup­port. But the foun­da­tion for me is the fit and the en­gi­neer­ing of tech­ni­cally ad­vanced, breath­able fab­rics.” How im­por­tant was the ethos of the brand—the idea of self­love, of girls and women com­ing to­gether? “It’s re­ally the essence: to cel­e­brate ev­ery woman and the body she’s in while al­ways striv­ing to be bet­ter. I called it Ivy Park be­cause a park is our com­mon­al­ity. We can all go there; we’re all wel­comed. It’s any­where we cre­ate for our­selves. For me, it’s the place that my drive comes from. I think we all have that place we go to when we need to fight through some­thing, set our goals and ac­com­plish them.” You’ve talked in the past about the pres­sure of per­fec­tion­ism. “It’s re­ally about chang­ing the con­ver­sa­tion. It’s not about per­fec­tion. It’s about pur­pose. We have to care about our bod­ies and what we put in them. Women have to take the time to fo­cus on our men­tal health—take time for self, for the spir­i­tual, with­out feel­ing guilty or self­ish. The world will see you the way you see you and treat you the way you treat your­self.” How do you feel about the role of busi­ness­woman, run­ning your own com­pany? “It’s ex­cit­ing, but hav­ing the power to make ev­ery fi­nal de­ci­sion and be­ing ac­count­able for them is def­i­nitely a bur­den and a bless­ing. To me, power is mak­ing things hap­pen with­out ask­ing for per­mis­sion. It’s af­fect­ing the way peo­ple per­ceive them­selves and the world around them. It’s mak­ing peo­ple stand up with pride.” Did be­com­ing a mother in­ten­sify that de­sire to make the world some­how bet­ter? “Of course. I think, just like any h

mother, I want my child to be happy and healthy and have the op­por­tu­nity to re­al­ize her dreams.” How do you want to make things dif­fer­ent for her gen­er­a­tion? “I’d like to help re­move the pres­sure so­ci­ety puts on peo­ple to fit in a cer­tain box.” What lessons did your par­ents teach you? “So many...the gift of be­ing gen­er­ous and tak­ing care of oth­ers. It has never left me. I’ve also learned that your time is the most valu­able as­set you own, and you have to use it wisely. My par­ents taught me how to work hard and smart. Both were en­trepreneurs; I watched them strug­gle, work­ing 18-hour days. They taught me that noth­ing worth hav­ing comes eas­ily. My father stressed dis­ci­pline and was tough with me. He pushed me to be a leader and an in­de­pen­dent thinker. My mother loved me un­con­di­tion­ally, so I felt safe enough to dream. I learned the im­por­tance of hon­our­ing my word and com­mit­ments from her. One of the best things about my mother is her abil­ity to sense when I am go­ing through a tough time. She texts me the most pow­er­ful prayers, and they al­ways come right when I need them. I know I’m tapped into her emo­tional Wi-Fi.” Dur­ing the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, you seemed to em­brace your power in a new way—blaz­ing the word “fem­i­nist” in bold let­ters across sta­dium screens. What made you de­cide to em­brace the term? “I put the def­i­ni­tion of fem­i­nist in my song [‘Flaw­less’] and on my tour not for pro­pa­ganda or to pro­claim to the world that I’m a fem­i­nist but to give clar­ity to the true mean­ing. I’m not re­ally sure peo­ple know or un­der­stand what a fem­i­nist is, but it’s very sim­ple. It’s some­one who be­lieves in equal rights for men and women. I don’t un­der­stand the neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion of the word or why it should ex­clude the op­po­site sex. If you are a man who be­lieves your daugh­ter should have the same op­por­tu­ni­ties and rights as your son, then you’re a fem­i­nist. We need men and women to un­der­stand the dou­ble stan­dards that still ex­ist in this world, and we need to have a real con­ver­sa­tion so we can be­gin to make changes. Ask any­one, man or woman, ‘Do you want your daugh­ter to have 75 cents when she de­serves $1?’ What do you think the an­swer would be? When we talk about equal rights, there are is­sues that face women dis­pro­por­tion­ately. That is why I wanted to work with [the phil­an­thropic or­ga­ni­za­tions] Chime for Change and Global Ci­ti­zen. They un­der­stand how is­sues re­lated to education, health and san­i­ta­tion around the world af­fect a woman’s en­tire ex­is­tence and that of her chil­dren. They’re putting pro­grams in place to help those young girls who lit­er­ally face death be­cause they want to learn and to pre­vent women dy­ing dur­ing child­birth be­cause there’s no ac­cess to health care. Work­ing to make those in­equal­i­ties go away is be­ing a fem­i­nist, but, more im­por­tantly, it makes me a hu­man­ist. I don’t like or em­brace any la­bel. I don’t want call­ing my­self a fem­i­nist to make it feel like that’s my one pri­or­ity, over racism or sex­ism or any­thing else. I’m just ex­hausted by la­bels and tired of be­ing boxed in. If you be­lieve in equal rights, the same way so­ci­ety al­lows a man to ex­press his dark­ness, to ex­press his pain, to ex­press his sex­u­al­ity, to ex­press his opin­ion—I feel that women have the same rights.” What do you have to say to those who feel you can’t be a fem­i­nist and also em­brace your fem­i­nin­ity? “We all know that’s not true. Choos­ing to be a fem­i­nist has noth­ing to do with your fem­i­nin­ity—or, for that mat­ter, your mas­culin­ity. We’re not all just one thing. Ev­ery­one who be­lieves in equal rights for men and women doesn’t speak the same or dress the same or think the same. If a man can do it, a woman should be able to. It’s that sim­ple. If your son can do it, your daugh­ter should be able to. Some of the things that we teach our daugh­ters—al­low­ing them to ex­press their emo­tions, their pain and vul­ner­a­bil­ity—we need to al­low and sup­port our men and boys to do as well.” Do you re­call a point in your life when you re­al­ized you had real power? “I’d say I dis­cov­ered my power af­ter the first Des­tiny’s Child al­bum. The la­bel didn’t re­ally be­lieve we were pop stars. They un­der­es­ti­mated us, and be­cause of that they al­lowed us to write our own songs and write our own video treat­ments. It ended up be­ing the best thing be­cause that’s when I be­came an artist and took con­trol. It wasn’t a con­scious thing. It was be­cause we had a vi­sion for our­selves, and no­body re­ally cared to ask us what our vi­sion was. So we cre­ated it on our own; once it was suc­cess­ful, I re­al­ized that we had the power to cre­ate what­ever vi­sion we wanted for our­selves. We didn’t have to go through other writ­ers or have the la­bel cre­ate our launch plans—we had the power to cre­ate those things our­selves.” What do you feel peo­ple don’t un­der­stand about who you re­ally are and, in par­tic­u­lar, about the mes­sage you’ve put for­ward with “For­ma­tion”? “I mean, I’m an artist, and I think the most pow­er­ful art is usu­ally mis­un­der­stood. But any­one who per­ceives my mes­sage as anti-po­lice is com­pletely mis­taken. I have so much ad­mi­ra­tion and re­spect for of­fi­cers and the fam­i­lies of of­fi­cers who sac­ri­fice them­selves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against po­lice bru­tal­ity and in­jus­tice. Those are two sep­a­rate things. If cel­e­brat­ing my roots and cul­ture dur­ing Black His­tory Month made any­one un­com­fort­able, those feel­ings were there long be­fore a video and long be­fore me. I’m proud of what we cre­ated, and I’m proud to be a part of a con­ver­sa­tion that is push­ing things for­ward in a pos­i­tive way.” What do you want to ac­com­plish with the next phase of your ca­reer? “I hope I can cre­ate art that helps peo­ple heal. Art that makes peo­ple feel proud of their strug­gle. Ev­ery­one ex­pe­ri­ences pain, but some­times you need to be un­com­fort­able to trans­form. Pain is not pretty, but I wasn’t able to hold my daugh­ter in my arms un­til I ex­pe­ri­enced the pain of child­birth!”

Cot­ton parka (Roberto Cavalli), elas­tane-blend bra top and leggings (Ivy Park) and earrings (Bey­oncé’s own)

Elas­tane-blend mesh top and briefs (Ivy Park), stretch-cot­ton leg warm­ers (KD New York) and snake­skin and suede pumps (Prada). Right: On Bey­oncé: Ny­lon-blend hoodie and cot­ton sweat­pants (Ivy Park) and ny­lonLy­cra swim­suit (Norma Ka­mali). On dancer, left:

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