Beyoncé Recalls a Time When High-End Labels Wouldn't Dress the "Four Black, Country, Curvy Girls" of Destiny's Child

Singer named Fashion Icon at the 2016 CFDA Awards

By Zach Johnson Jun 07, 2016 11:34 AMTags
Beyonce, CFDA Fashion AwardsTheo Wargo/Getty Images

Beyoncé will always be in fashion.

The "Hold Up" singer made a surprise appearance at the CFDA Awards in New York City Monday. With Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter, Tina Knowles and Richard Lawson in the audience, CFDA president Diane Von Furstenberg presented Beyoncé with the Fashion Icon award. The diva—who rarely walks a red carpet or gives interview—used her time on stage to reflect on the beginning of Destiny's Child's and to honor fashion designers who aren't afraid to take risks.

"I feel so much love and I feel so proud. As long as I can remember, fashion has been part of my life. Its effect on me actually started before I was born. Many of you guys don't know this, but my grandmother was a seamstress. My grandparents did not have enough money; they could not afford my mother's Catholic school tuition," Beyoncé recalled. "So my grandmother sewed clothes for the priests and the nuns and made uniforms for the students in exchange for my mother's education. She then passed this gift onto my mother and taught her how to sew."

When Beyoncé's career began, she wasn't afforded the luxuries she is today. Yes, she always had style, but she wasn't always slaying in a Givenchy suit. "Starting out in Destiny's Child, high-end labels didn't really want to dress four black, country, curvy girls, and we couldn't afford designer dresses and couture. My mother was rejected from every showroom in New York. But like my grandmother, she used her talent and her creativity to give her children their dreams. My mother and my uncle, God rest his soul, made all of our first costumes, individually sewing hundreds of crystals and pearls, putting so much passion and love into every small detail. When I wore these clothes I felt like Khaleesi," she said, referring to actress Emilia Clarke's Game of Thrones character. "I had an extra suit of armor. It was so much deeper than any brand name."

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"My mother is fabulous and beautiful and she's here tonight. My mother, my grandmother, and my uncle are always with me so I cannot fail. My mother actually designed my wedding dress, my prom dress, my first CFDA Award dress, my first Grammy dress—and the list goes on and on. And this to me is the true power and potential of fashion. It's a tool for finding your own identity. It transcends style, and it's a time capsule of all of our greatest milestones," the pop singer said. "So to my mother, my grandmother, my uncle, thank y'all. Thank you for showing me that having presence is about far more than the clothes you wear and your physical beauty. Thank you for showing me how to take risks, work hard, and live life on my own terms."

"I want to say thank you to every designer who works tirelessly to make people think they can write their own story. Y'all are fairy godmothers, magicians, sculptors, and sometimes even our therapists. I encourage you to not forget this power you have or to take it lightly. We have the opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or magazine cover and see her own reflection. Soul has no color, no shape, no form. Just like all of your work, it goes far beyond what the eye can see. You have the power to change perception, to inspire and empower, and to show people how to embrace their complications, and see the flaws, and the true beauty and strength that's inside all of us," the 20-time Grammy winner concluded. "Thank you so much for this incredible award. I'll never forget this night. God bless you all. Thank you."

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