Beyoncé doesn’t just look good in Jay-Z’s video for “Family Feud,” her lewks are full of symbolism. Director Ava DuVernay turned Jay’s 4:44 anthem into a visual opus filled with symbolism for a new America where Madam President is Pocahontas, while his wife’s presence serves as a reminder that we must always bow down to Queen Beyoncé.
While it’s no surprise that fans are talking about Beyoncé’s fashion in the video, it’s what Bey’s looks stand for that deserve deeper consideration. Specifically, the original navy Ayanna dress and “Lady J” Gerard belted corset, styled by Beyoncé’s stylist Marni Senofante, that she wears while listening to Jay-Z’s confessions.
No surprise, Beyoncé’s church look is full of religious symbolism. As Elite Daily pointed out, Beyoncé appears to be wearing a headdress that is a “greatly exaggerated klobuk,” a clerical headpiece worn by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic monastics and bishops, specifically in the Russian tradition.
The headdress is cylindrical but flat on top, with a long veil that flows down her back. The klobuk is most often black, though those in the Romanian Orthodox Church wear white while some in the Armenian and Ukrainian churches wear red. Here, Beyoncé is wearing navy blue. That may not have religious significance but is significant to her being that it’s her daughter’s name.
Like someone who has given themselves to something higher, Bey’s look could mean that she has given herself to her daughter. She does what’s best for her, that’s where her loyalty lies. Being that she’s dressed as a bishop, a higher up in the church, it symbolizes that she is the head of this family, and Jay-Z must atone to her if he wants access to their daughter — just like someone confessing their sins earns the right to speak with God.
Looking at the headpiece, it’s hard not to also compare it to the one Egyptian queen Nefertiti wears, which is also what Beyoncé wore in her video for “Sorry.” In that video, it’s Bey’s braided hair wound together that forms Nefertiti’s headdress. Now, the look has come full circle.
That song was Beyoncé’s anthem, her middle finger to her husband’s infidelity and his desire for “Becky with the good hair,” who Jay references on this song (“Yeah, I’ll fuck up a good thing if you let me/Let me alone, Becky.”) She wasn’t interested listening to his excuses and no, she wasn’t sorry. As the album goes on, we know that Beyoncé opened up to the idea of forgiveness.
In the “Family Feud” video, she is all about listening, sitting in the confessional to hear him. Wearing that headdress like Nefertiti — who, as The Harvard Gazette explained, was portrayed as a strong independent woman, a sensual goddess, and “a uniquely strong queen” — brings this allegory full circle: this time around she represents something different, but she’s not an entirely new Beyoncé. Like Nefertiti, Beyoncé is portrayed as a goddess of sexuality, fertility, and rebirth, which she offers to Jay Z.
Throughout “Family Feud,” Beyoncé’s clothes are meant to show that she is spiritually higher than Jay Z. In her klobuk she stands at a podium looking down at him. She later wears a black dress with a white jacket from French designer Stéphane Rolland’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017 collection as she hears his confessions. The billowy white sleeves swallow her frame and almost look like angels wings, serving as yet another sign of her spiritual purity.
While Jay Z admits to infidelity while wearing all black, she is the light, the goodness that he must bow down to, made even explicit by her choice of white. The fabric flows behind her, dragging on the ground, picking up all the dirt and debris others have left behind. Not because she has to, but because she’s chosen to. That is the cross she bears and the dress she wears.
Beyoncé is there to pick up the pieces and that angelic dress is a symbol of the strength and power she has. She is the head of the family, and as Jay-Z says, “nobody wins when the family feuds.” Beyoncé has chosen to stick around by listening and working together.
The idea that we can work together for something better is a theme throughout DuVernay’s video, which shows women from all walks of life, the Founding Mothers, rewriting the Constitution. Beyoncé has re-written her family’s legacy by choosing to try again with Jay. Her clothes make the case that she has gone from the darkness to the light, never giving up her powers. She has just chosen to wield that power in a way in which everyone wins. Though, in the end, it might be Beyoncé’s symbolic “Family Feud” fashion that’s the real winner here.
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