The subtle fashion symbolism hidden in Beyoncé and Jay-Z's music video

Beyoncé pays homage to several significant female figures from history

Sabrina Barr@fabsab5
Friday 22 June 2018 15:20
Jay Z and Beyonce perform at the London Stadium

Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s first joint album "Everything Is Love" has been making waves since its surprise release on Tidal over the weekend.

The couple has released just one video alongside the nine tracks on the album for the song "Apesh*t", which has been receiving special attention for its heavy symbolism and hard-hitting lyrics.

Shot in Paris' prestigious Louvre gallery, the video's art history references have been heavily dissected. However, the clothes the couple chose to wear for it are also steeped in symbolism.

From Beyoncé’s Versace outfit to her recreation of the goddess Aphrodite, here are the main fashion talking points from the “Apesh*t” video:

The satin power suits


The video opens with Beyoncé and Jay-Z standing in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, both dressed in vibrant suits and extravagant jewellery.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z have made it very clear throughout their On The Run II tour that their marriage should be viewed as an true partnership, following their respective previous albums, which charted Jay-Z's alleged infidelities.

Their choice to both wear power suits in front of one of the most famous paintings in the world has stressed that point even further.

Beyoncé's pale pink Peter Pilotto suit appears to reference overt femininity. Coupled with the pair's powerful stances, it makes a statement that femininity and power are not mutually exclusive.​

With Jay-Z wearing blue, the colour that's frequently associated with men and masculinity, the pair are both subverting gender stereotypes by highlighting their equality.

The tartan bra and leggings


Beyoncé makes a powerful statement about female influence and femininity when wearing a Burberry tartan ensemble in front of the 1807 Jacques-Louis David painting “The Coronation of Napoleon,” which depicts the crowning of the Empress Joséphine.

While dancing in front of “The Coronation of Napoleon” with a line of backing dancers, Beyoncé demonstrates both the strength of the female bond and her natural position as leader of the pack.

Positioned front and centre, the singer wears a tartan ensemble with a dazzling necklace and pair of earrings while the rest of the women wear nude outfits.

Beyoncé’s choice of designer attire juxtaposed with the crowning of the Empress Joséphine in the background presents a regal image.

The sculptural white dress and suit


In this scene of the video, Beyoncé and Jay-Z stand in front of the "Winged Victory of Samothrace", otherwise known as the "Nike of Samothrace", a sculpture that dates back to around the 2nd Century BC.

The sculpture portrays Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, who was believed to have flown around battlefields in a chariot rewarding the victors of war.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z play clear homage to the goddess while standing in front of the sculpture wearing marble-esque, white outfits.

In contrast, an array of dancers dressed in nude lie on the steps below the couple’s feet, highlighting their unquestionable authority.

The head-to-toe Versace


“Portrait of a Negress”, painted by Marie-Guillemine Benoist in 1800, is an extremely significant painting as an early portrayal of a black woman who wasn’t a slave in France.

Beyoncé references the renowned painting when wearing an opulent Versace outfit, positioned in a similar pose to the original sitter.

Jay-Z is sat beside her wearing a sleek black suit and luxurious gold chain, which draws even further attention to the religious iconography of Beyoncé's Versace outfit.

The tribute to Aphrodite


Beyoncé makes a very clear reference to the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite when standing in front of the "Venus de Milo" sculpture.

The "Venus de Milo" sculpture, thought to have been created by Alexandros of Antioch, is easily recognisable around the world for its fragmented female form.

Beyoncé channels the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty by wearing a nude bodysuit that draws parallels to the shape of the sculpture.

Holding hands with Jay-Z who wears a white suit, the couple present themselves as the ultimate image of love.

The Egyptian inspiration


The "Great Sphinx of Tanis", which was discovered in 1825, is one of the largest sculpted sphinxes located outside of Egypt.

The sphinx is thought to have a close connection with the Egyptian sun god Ra, whom Beyoncé could be referencing with her tan-coloured ensemble, a custom-made hat, cape and bodysuit made by MCM.

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