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« Mindhunter (S2) Pt 2: Fierce mothers and closeted sexuality | Main | Breakfast with... Magic Mike »
Friday
Aug232019

"Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce" (with Marni Senofonte)

by Ginny O'Keefe

I got invited to Homecoming! This past Monday I had the pleasure of representing the Film Experience at the Icon Lobby in the Netflix headquarters at an event celebrating Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce. The Netflix documentary takes an in-depth look at Beyoncé’s 2018 performance at Coachella and how long she and her team had been on the creative road to make this whole iconic performance and cultural event live up to the hype. It took Beyonce and her team months to create this performance and Beyoncé would end up being the first Black woman in history to headline Coachella. Throughout the film you immediately get that Beyoncé didn’t want this to just be a concert, she wanted this to be a historical moment for her career and for her culture. She knew that she couldn’t come in with something expected to fit the Coachella vibe, so she ditched the typical flower crown aesthetic and came in with a predominately Black cast of performers and helped emphasize the importance and the richness of historically Black universities in America. Something that doesn’t get enough recognition in society.

Beyonce says it herself in the beginning of the film, she never went to college. Her college was touring and traveling. But I have a good feeling that if she had gone to college, then she would be doing exactly what these young performers are doing at their respective schools. Whether it be dance team, stepping, marching band, or Greek life. The film quotes W.E.B. Dubois who states “Education must not simply teach work, it must teach life.”...


 This performance was an education for all of Coachella (soon to be Beychella) about a culture near and dear to Beyoncé. She sees herself in these college kids and alumni and she hopes that they see themselves in her, too. Without them, I highly doubt this performance would have been nearly as amazing as it was...

THE EVENT
I show up at 6:30 at the Icon Lobby at the Netlifx headquarters in Hollywood complete with an all black outfit and fresh liquid metallic blue eyeshadow and fake lashes. It was one of those kind of nights. The lobby was decked out in Beyoncé’s costumes from the 2018 performance, each one dazzling and sparkling but never ostentatious. I was impressed by the fact that Beyoncé had to perform in those knee high Balmain boots and rehearse every day for nearly 5 months with them. But she is Bey. The rest of the lobby was littered with blown up photos and HQ stills of her performance and special moments from the film. The walls were decorated with Dubois quotes and even a special miniature model of the Coachella stage and setup. Looking at everything that went into the event makes me feel stressed and tired all at the same time. It comes to no one’s surprise that Beyoncé is a perfectionist and when it comes to a performance of this scale, she really needed to be. 

MARNI SENOFONTE
After some champagne and great chicken kabobs, 7:30 rolls around and one of the biggest and most essential creative minds behind Beychella appears for a questionnaire. Marni Senofonte, Beyoncé’s stylist and costume designer for the iconic performance appears in a white blouse, jean shorts and silver pumps. She is remarkably chill and very down to earth. She is most notably known for styling Beyoncé in her entire Lemonade visual album. She has worked with her and a slew of other celebrities for years in the styling department and famously hasn’t worn black in over 20 years. (So of course I show up to this shindig wearing freakin' black!)

She starts with answering some technical design questions. She wanted to emphasize that she needed to make all of Beyonce and her 151 cast members' outfits comfortable and stretchy, but still form fitting since they needed to wear these clothes for two 2 hour shows in two different weekends. She said that the bands looks came first and then she worked her way up to what Beyonce would wear, all the while mixing and matching over a hundred different color samples before settling on yellow and pink for the main colors of Beyonce and the cast. She said she wanted the looks to be memorable for the embroidery and details even if the costumes as a whole may seem simple. 

"It looks super simple, a sweatshirt and jeans but it’s always so difficult to get down to the most basic simple things.”- Marni

She says the whole thing was a “labor of love”’ and described working with Beyonce as “easy” because she makes her want to be better. 

"It’s always better working with someone who’s better than you are because it makes you want to be better.”

She seems incredibly nice and grounded and so I wasn’t nervous when I got to ask her what she loves most about Beyonce’s work ethic and her sense of style. 

“We work well together because we have the same work ethic. [She] and I work until it gets done…I have to be told no five times before I don’t do something and [so does she].” 

See? Perfectionist. 

Some other fun facts on Senofonte designing Beychella:

- She dressed Jay-Z and Solange Knowles each week as well

- Olivier Rousteing (creative director of Balmain) did most of the embroidery and even had special boots from Italy delivered for Beyonce on the same day as the first show

- The first week was the yellow outfit for Beyoncé and the second week was pink

- Marni didn’t know really know anything on the culture of Black universities so she threw herself into research

The night then comes to a gentle close and Marni stays after for a few minutes to shake hands and take pictures with guests. If you don’t know much about her you need to research her career because she is fascinating and it's such an interesting dichotomy that this grounded but quirky woman would be the fashion mastermind behind one of the best performers in the world. You can tell from the documentary, that for Beyoncé, the ENTIRE thing was labor of love and not one detail was overlooked. I live in LA and I have had no real desire to go to Coachella, but Beychella made me wish I had gone. Fortunately Netflix gave me the next best thing. 

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé, currently available to stream on Netflix, is up for six Emmy awards including Outstanding Variety Special and Outstanding Costumes for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program. Voting ends August 29th. The Emmy Awards will be Broadcast Live on Sunday, September 22nd on FOX. 

 

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Reader Comments (6)

*yawn* I’m over her.

August 23, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

beyaccount -- maybe you have to change your handle then. ;) I suspect this will win Emmys

Ginny -- thanks for the write-up. I'm so glad you had a good time there. I love seeing costumes up close at exhibits and events.

August 23, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Hi Nathaniel: Thanks for your write-up. You know, I have never (so far) been a Beyonce fan, but I think I need to give up on Janet Jackson (and maybe should have 5 years ago). What you wrote about her being a perfectionist really hit me. Will watch the docu.

August 24, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterrrrich7

rrrich7 -- this piece is by Ginny O'Keefe but i just want to say that you don't have to give up on one diva to love another. Love them all :)

August 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel, you’re too good to me

August 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGinny

Thanks for this write up, Ginny. I was lucky enough to make it from London to weekend 2 of Beychella. It was my 9th Beyoncé concert (the first being the Destiny's Child Survivor tour back in 2002!), and being there left me utterly floored, so watching the Netflix doc earlier this year was such a welcome reminder of just how fantastic the show was. Fingers crossed for some Emmy love!

August 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDanny

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