When Beyoncé announced the release of her film, “Black Is King,” its timeliness stuck out. The project, which served as a visual component to her album “The Gift,” started streaming on Disney+ on July 31. But what some fans didn’t know was just how long it was in the making for, and what type of work went into the project.
“Having worked with her, I know how many hours go in, even just planning. It’s really good to know she puts her heart into it,” said Kim Kimble, a hairstylist who worked on several of the looks for the film, as well as past projects like Beyoncé’s Coachella performance, and the visuals for her 2016 album, “Lemonade.”
This time around, her biggest challenge was a 30-foot braided wig, which she said took three days and a team of six braiders to produce. Most of Kimble’s references came from the various cultures in Africa. “There are so many different tribes and cultures, but there was a specific one, where women have really long braids, and very intricate, fine ones,” Kimble said of the wig.
“When I worked on [the music video for] ‘Spirit’ with her, the African hair was a big inspiration. She wanted everyone in ‘Spirit’ to have red hair, like tribes that put red clay in their hair,” she added. “It shows inspiration. Even with the fashion, and all the different colors, there are so many different colors and prints, but it’s also very modern.”
Kimble points to the African inspiration as part of Beyoncé’s evolution, saying it’s become more prevalent in her visuals since the release of “Lemonade” in 2016. “She calls [the film] a love letter to Africa. It’s always appreciating where our ancestors come from, even though we might not be directly from there, and it’s such a rich culture in style, in hair and in beauty,” Kimble said.
Other collaborators also found the project to be a celebration of the culture. Designer Venny Etienne, who made a jacket for the film, agreed, down to his choice in fabric: the violet shades of the print, he said, were chosen for their proximity to purple, which denotes royalty. “It’s a floral print. It’s showing how much beauty is in our culture, how much grace, and also how strong our culture is,” he said. “It shows our culture and heritage as Black people and how we’re rooted from the ground up.”
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