Beyoncé covers the May issue of ELLE Malaysia
Take an early look at highlights from our rare and exclusive in-depth interview with Beyoncé
This May, Beyoncé features on the cover of ELLE in 25 countries, and delivers a rare interview in which she discusses her new athleisure fashion line, Ivy Park, the true meaning behind Formation, and how she handles the pressure of perfectionism. Ready to be inspired?
What she's learned from this fashion line
"I've learned that you have to be prepared. And when you visualise 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."
On what makes Ivy Park different from other athleisure collections
"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 of 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."
On the importance of the ethos of the brand
"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."
The pressure of perfectionism isn't about perfection
"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." On being a businesswoman and running her 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."
Why she embraced the term 'feminist'
"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 from 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."
When she realised she 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, and 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."
Formation isn't about being anti-police
"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."
For the full story, read the May issue of ELLE Malaysia. Digital edition on sale 20 April, print edition on sale 28 April.