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How Beyonce, JAY-Z, Migos And Drake Made Their Tour Stages Fashion Runways, Too

Stylists and designers talk about creating for On the Run II and Drake and the Three Migos tours.

Stylists and designers talk about creating for On the Run II and Drake and the Three Migos tours.


New York-based designer LaQuan Smith and his team had been working diligently, sketching, ideating, revising and tweaking a project for arguably the biggest singer of this generation. In most cases when this level of effort is put in, confirmation that his clients are satisfied comes before their big reveal.

But this was Beyoncé. And the clothes were for her forthcoming On the Run II Tour, the sequel to the international trek with her rap superstar husband JAY-Z. Queen Bey is notorious for her meticulousness in the industry. Those who work with her—be it producing tracks for her multi-platinum albums or costuming for sold-out concerts—don’t know their work has made it until she is wearing the clothes or they hear their song playing on a streaming service.

“I found out on Instagram,” Smith says. On June 6 in Cardiff, the capital of United Kingdom’s Wales, Beyoncé opened OTR2 hand-in-hand with hubby, wearing a shimmering sheer bodysuit, evening jacket, and mesh mask. Fans of hers that were also familiar with LaQuan’s work immediately saw images of Beyoncé popping up in their social media feeds and tagged him with questions.


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Beyonce looking stunning in custom #laquansmith for the opening look of OTRT II

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“It was a huge surprise,” he says. “People were @ing me on Instagram. I guess my fan base on social media just knows my work. People tagged me like, ‘Is this LaQuan Smith?’ I was freaking out.” He’s been outfitting Beyoncé for almost four years (she wore a black LS dress to present Colin Kaepernick with Sports Illustrated’s Person of the Year Award in December), but this too was huge.

“I didn’t know it was going to be that major," he exclaims. "To know that I was the first designer for the first night kicking off On the Run II? Whoa! Come on, that’s hot. I’m very humble about mines but damn! That’s black excellence putting a designer of color on the forefront. I’m sure that was strategic placement on her part. That meant something to me.”

Smith’s look perfectly fit the show’s fugitive lovers storyline, as portrayed during movie shorts shot in Jamaica earlier this year. Guns and lingerie, kisses and motorcycle rides, and vignettes of nuptials and bedroom romps all peppered the screen. At the Rose Bowl stadium in Los Angeles, Beyoncé was, at times, a badass and an empress. JAY was a gangster whilst exuding a regal mood, rocking looks that ranged from a black Gucci jacket with tuxedo pants to a mock bulletproof vest worn during “99 Problems.”

Givenchy’s Artistic Director Clare Waight Keller created a double-breasted white tuxedo and silk tee from their Spring/Summer 2018 Men’s Haute Couture collection for JAY-Z’s opener with Smith’s fit. (The Parisian house also laced Beyoncé with a black bodysuit and detachable skirt with hand-embroidered crystals from their Fall/Winter 2018 Women’s ready-to-wear collection.)

“I’m just a huge fan of unapologetic glamour,” Smith says. “Mixing this New York nasty, edgy lifestyle with a sexy elegant vibe. It’s a juxtaposition of the two.” So was the tour’s overall costuming, and he needed to serve that mood while making his piece one that would be spectacular under beaming stage lights.

“There’s a difference between music video wardrobe and stage performance wardrobe. Movement and lighting have to be taken into account. Something could look extraordinarily amazing on the body and might not transform on stage. The fabric might be too matte or not reflect enough. Little things."

Stylist Zoe Costello agrees with the sentiment. Those seeing Migos on the road lately can spot them from the cheapest seats in any house. Among her various celeb clients, Costello’s handled the trio’s looks for magazine covers, red carpets and concert costuming. She’s currently responsible for the pieces they’re sporting on their national Drake & the Three Migos run. “For performances, I usually like to go with a theme or draw inspiration from their videos or trends they have been into recently and build from there,” she says. “Migos like to experiment and have fun with performance looks and fashion.”

She explains that during her nearly two years with the Atlanta rap set, she’s had several conversations about their love for Michael Jackson’s style (“Especially Offset.”). But for the tour, Quavo brought up a hip-hop icon for style inspiration: Puff Daddy.


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“Quavo mentioned Diddy and Ma$e,” Costello says, bringing to the pair’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” and “Feel So Good” ‘90s Hype Williams-directed videos to mind. “He wanted jumpsuits.”

Costello's research brought her to British designer Vivienne Westwood’s decades-old parachute shirts, which became reference points and then she experimented with the idea of adding 3M reflective strips, reaching out to Tripp NYC designer Daang Goodman to execute the look. “It’s about finding the right designer that can execute the look that I’m going for," she says.

As defined on their 3M's site, “3M Scotchlite Reflective Material helps enhance the visibility of the wearer in nighttime or low-light conditions when illuminated by a light source such as headlights.” Perfect for any fan to see Migos run through “Bad and Boujee,” even from the nosebleeds.

Throughout their U.S. run, the result of Costello and Daang’s collaboration is visible from near and far. At Los Angeles’ The Forum, Offset wore his jumpsuit in yellow, Quavo donned red and Takeoff green. It’s this era’s shiny suit vibe, arguably with more jewelry. The drip was insane. As they performed smashes like “Fight Night,” images of flowers, doves and luxury cars popped on center-stage cubes while pyro flamed up from each corner. “For Migos, I wanted to make something that would stand up to their incredible magnitude and awesome energy,” Goodman, who even kitted out their record spinner DJ Durel, says.


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New skins no Fortnite

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By contrast, Drake’s looks are a bit simpler. However, that doesn't mean they're not as intricate. Though most associated with his style and costuming bunch chose to keep their lips sealed for this story, his team confirms that their in-house collective created custom snakeskin OVO vests, along with custom stage technical pants, and a one-of-one pair of "custom Nikes engineered for stage use.” One vest featured a scorpion on the back, a play off his hit summer ’18 album. Drizzy seemed to let the stage—an intricate digital display projected under his feet—make grander statements. Sometimes his steps glowed in “Billie Jean"-like fashion, another time it turned into a basketball court (at The Forum, a fan hit a three-pointer, winning cash and an OVO Nike jersey.)

Marquee clothing brands and looks from Calvin Klein and 8 MONCLER PALM ANGELS are worn by Migos during their return on stage during Drake’s set. “I would brief each designer and work with them on ensuring the colors would stand out well on stage and be cohesive together so they look like a group,“ Costello says. “But each has their own individuality.” Sneakers from Balenciaga, Maison Margiela, and Chanel decorate their feet.


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Every time I come around ya city...

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At the now completed On the Run II Tour, major couture houses like Versace (used during the couple’s “Young Forever” Rose Bowl close), Balmain, and Burberry wowed on stage. However, indie brands like LaQuan Smith and Migos’ use of Tripp NYC remind us that looks that pack a punch don’t only come from European fashion titans.

The attention Smith earns from boasting Beyoncé (in addition to Rihanna and Cardi B, among others) as a client means more potential customers inevitably knock on his door and visit his site. When they get there, though, they will not find replicas of the outfit he made for Bey.

“Absolutely not,” he says definitively. “That is for her. It is an iconic piece and moment. It can not be duplicated or reproduced. These are the types of moments that you just want to appreciate. If you mass produce everything you do for every celebrity, where’s the value and the appreciation of the exclusivity?”

Those who are bummed they won’t be able to slip in Bey’s OTR2 look for their bachelorette party or next trip to the club will be happy to learn that Smith is set to release an affordable concept collection with British retailer ASOS for both sexes and all sizes, out since Oct. 29. And his Fall/Winter 2018 line is currently available at Luisa Via Roma. The one-of-a-kind pieces may be unattainable, but everyone can get a piece from their favorite's go-to designer.

READ MORE: Review: 15 Thoughts On The Carters’ ‘On The Run’ Tour And Their Evolving PDA

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