Beyoncé’s Stylist Breaks Down Her On the Run Tour Looks
From their announcement of the On the Run tour—with a faux movie trailer starring Sean Penn, Jake Gyllenhaal, Blake Lively, Don Cheadle, Rashida Jones, Emmy Rossum, and Guillermo Díaz—to its final stop, when Nicki Minaj made a surprise appearance, Beyoncé and Jay Z had us captivated throughout their 21-show run. Which makes the fact that the clothes stole the show all the more impressive. Everything about Bey’s wardrobe was on a larger scale, from her record number of outfit changes to the ever-expanding list of designers who contributed to her wardrobe—Givenchy, Alexander Wang, Versace, Diesel, and Elie Saab among them. Orchestrating Queen B’s rotation of ensembles—with two-and-a-half months’ notice, no less—was her longtime stylist, Ty Hunter. Ahead of the On the Run HBO special airing tonight, Hunter spoke with Style.com about what went into making the wardrobe, championing emerging designers, and how Beyoncé archives all of her past tour outfits.
When you’re working with other designers, do you put out an open call for sketches, or are you constantly accumulating them and then going through them closer to the tour?
Me and Raquel Smith meet with Beyoncé and get a feel for what she’s looking for. After we meet with her, we contact designers and showrooms and let everybody give their interpretation. This time we gave the designers prompts like “modern-day Bonnie and Clyde,” “badass robbers,” and “cowgirl.” Everyone came with their sketches, and then we had another meeting with Beyoncé and let her pick her favorites, then met again with the designers to see if we can make it stage-friendly. A lot of times designers will give you a nice piece for the runway, but we have to get her in and out of these costumes in a minute or two. We tell them the kind of materials they have to use and go from there.
What are some of the technical tricks that designers come up with, allowing her to get in and out of the costumes that quickly?
The placement of zippers is important. A lot of times I want the zipper in the back because I’m behind her doing those quick changes. A lot of times the shoe zippers we want on the inner leg. It’s little stuff like that.
For this tour, did you have to put together twice as many outfits because Jay Z was involved?
We laid out the flow of the show and that’s how we came up with the number of costume changes. There can be 15 changes, but we’re at 13. The most changes we’ve ever done on one of Beyoncé’s tours was eight.
As far as coordinating Beyoncé and Jay Z’s outfits, did you have the same designer do both of their outfits for the same segment?
Givenchy and Alexander [Wang] and Versace did moments together, but other than that, me and Raquel Smith met with Jay’s stylist, Beyoncé, and Jay and decided the placement of things. When they’re together, you want it to make sense and have them complement each other, but a lot of times they’re not together so they can do their own thing.
It seems like one of the silhouettes she’s really loved is the jumpsuit designed by Vrettos Vrettakos.
Yeah, he’s a young designer that I met on Facebook. He sent this sketch and was very persistent. I was like, “If you can bring this to life, I’ll use it.” That’s the one thing I admire about Beyoncé—she’s willing to give younger designers and lower lines a chance. She’s not into labels. If it’s hot, why not? This time we used Diesel, and for us to use Diesel with Givenchy, I’m sure people are like, “Well, how did Diesel make it?” But it’s just about the look, show, and feel of it.
I think that’s pretty true to her personal style as well.
Yeah, she’ll wear Topshop with Louboutins and she’s OK with that. That’s what makes her who she is. A lot of people think you have to wear something right off the runway and it has to be a certain designer. I think everybody has to start from somewhere and deserves a chance to be that top designer. We use Michael Costello in the show and used him at the Grammys, and for her to take a chance on him was huge. We also focus on energy, and if I feel a great energy from a young designer and feel like they’re talented, I’m willing to give them a chance.
Everyone is dying to know what the story is behind the assless piece Beyoncé wears on this tour.
[ Laughs] That was one of the things she wanted to do, and we had to bring it to life.
American flags are a big theme on this tour.
Riccardo [Tisci] sent sketches and he does a lot with stars and stripes, and I thought it was awesome. That was one of my favorite looks. It’s made out of this parachute fabric and I love it because it doesn’t get wrinkled. It’s very lightweight, and when she walks it just flows in the wind.
How did the Versace jumpsuit come together? It’s a little bit more colorful than some of the pieces she’s worn by them in the past.
For this show, we were going for a lot of black and white stuff with sprinkles of color every now and then. Versace came up with that look, which is to die for. It’s one of my favorite looks as well. They created it for the dancers, and it’s just a great moment. The mohawk is perfect. It has a gold Medusa on the front.
Is there another piece that you were really excited to see come together?
I love the Elie Saab moment when she sings “Resentment.” That’s one of my favorite songs. I don’t know what my favorite piece would be because everyone worked so hard to make this come together in such a short period of time. I guess that’s one of my favorites because I get a little break from doing a quick change. It’s a white jumper with a wedding veil on top.
How important is honoring her past style? Does she want to look back to outfits she’s worn before for inspiration, or does she prefer to keep moving forward?
We try to keep moving forward, but sometimes you find yourself seeing something you’ve done in the past. Even this go-round, we’ve seen things that we’ve done just because we’ve done so much since Destiny’s Child. A lot of the times you find that you have something similar to a piece you wore 10 years ago, and that’s just how fashion is.
How have you seen her style evolve since she’s become a mom?
Still to this day, I’m just in awe. She’s an amazing woman and an amazing person. I’ve been with her for so long, and each time she surprises me. She’s OK playing around and taking risks, and that’s what makes my job so much easier. The reason why I also love her is that she’s not just a person you can throw something on. She’s in full control of her brand.
Is there a certain risk she’s taken over the years that’s your favorite?
I would say the outfit she wore to announce her pregnancy during the VMAs.
Was it chosen just for that moment?
No! It was just part of her performance.
Did you know she’d be announcing her pregnancy?
I didn’t until that day.
What happens to all of these garments after the tour finishes?
We have three different locations, and everything gets archived.
Do you plan on bringing them back out for a retrospective?
Yes, of course. She has something going on now with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There’s plans in the future to bring everything out.
For everyone outside of Beyoncé’s circle, what’s the most surprising thing about working with her?
She’s really down-to-earth. A lot of people think that these iconic women are supposed to be these bitches or be a certain way, and she is not. She allows her team to be creative and she’s very loyal. I’ve been with her for 15 years. She’s just a Southern girl. We’re from the South, and a lot of times people will meet us and have to apologize because they expect me to be a certain way since I work for an iconic pop star. We’re not that at all.
What wardrobes of other pop stars or icons inspire you guys?
I would say Diana Ross. Brigitte Bardot. A lot of the great icons.
Do you keep a mood board?
Whenever we get ready for anything, we play around with what she wants and and make a mood board. We were able to let designers look at it as well and come up with their own interpretations of what a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde would look like. It was cool to see everybody’s interpretations.
Do you have any desire to have your own line?
I’m in the process of working on it. Everything is laid out. It’ll be a surprise.
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