There is no fashion magazine cover more coveted than Vogue’s September Issue, the biggest and most important issue of the year. This year that honor could only go to the American Queen, Beyoncé. This is only the third time in Vogue history that a black woman has held the esteemed position, following Naomi Campbell in 1989 and Halle Berry in 2010. And the first time ever for a black vocalist.
“She’s the whole package: primal, rare, delicate, beautiful, and powerful.” —Stella McCartney
“There is a magnetic presence to her.” —Riccardo Tisci
“The word diva is used for so many female performers, and it often means they have reputations for being difficult, but she exudes charm and a lovable quality.” —Marc Jacobs
“Beyoncé is a powerhouse. She can sneer. She can out-strut and stare down any man in the film frame. Call her, in the songs, She Who Must Be Obeyed—in the palace, in the bedroom, in the hood, on the road, and on the runway.”– Anna Wintour
What do we want from the glamorous, powerful women we call divas or icons or cultural forces? We want them to want—and in our names get—everything they possibly can. Success in work and love. Sexual pleasure. Money and power. We want them to embody multiple fantasies. We want them to make us believe that exciting realities are just around the corner.
It used to be that the great pop stars with fashion and style gave us small variations on one grand theme. Tina Turner: minidresses and honey tresses. Janis Joplin: boas, bangles, and bell-bottoms. Cher: spangled striptease getups with mythic Third World touches. Nowadays fashion isn’t about the grand theme, it’s about juxtaposition, and it’s filled with allusions to movie and art history; to music and dance styles; to iconographies of race and ethnicity, religion and gender. Madonna opened the door to this collage approach. Today we see it in the wigs, masks, and sculpted costumes of Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, the restless dazzle of Rihanna’s couture choices. And, of course, in the music, dance, decor, and looks of the ultimate streamed collage: Beyoncé