Usually one to set trends rather than follow them, Beyoncé this weekend did as the likes of her sister Solange, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik and Salma Hayek have done before her: she wore a pink suit, pushing it to the forefront of 2018’s fashion canon by opting to wear it in the video for the first single from her long-awaited joint album with Jay-Z, Everything Is Love.
Of course, being Beyoncé, she did it with more of a sense of pomp than most: standing in front of the Mona Lisa in a Louvre emptied of tourists, leaving space for Queen Bey and Jay-Z to chart their own course through art history as they launched an album that has been described as “celebrating their marriage and black identity”.
The pink of the suit pops against the more muted tones of the art. Its clashing red tassel belt could be read as a visual nod to the velvet rope that would usually accompany a visit to the Louvre, just not for Queen Bey.
The look that takes centre stage is from the autumn/winter 2018 collection of relatively unknown London-based label Peter Pilotto. Launched in 2007, it’s a label best known for its prints and sexiness – and it’s something of a sartorial curveball from Beyoncé, even as someone who is unafraid to throw them; on her recent tour, for instance, she teamed pieces from fashion gods Gucci with lesser-known designers such as LaQuan Smith.
So while Beyoncé can start trends with her little finger, she is very much jumping on an already rumbling bandwagon here. The current penchant for the pink suit was arguably sparked, as with so many other trends, by Gucci. That catalyst was part of Alessandro Michele’s spring/summer 2018 collection. Worn by a red-haired model who walked down the catwalk in a matching pink shirt and pink tie, Vogue called the look “Lady-Penelope-meets-Bianca-Jagger” and it has proven, according to Candice Fragis, buying and merchandising director at luxury stockist Farfetch, to be “really popular”, “in line with the colourful tailoring trend”.
On the high street, Topshop’s bright suiting has been a bestseller this summer too, according to the brand’s design director, Anthony Cuthbertson, with pink and pistachio (Jay-Z’s on the money too, then) bestsellers. Pink suits have been popping up from Monki to Zara to Asos, where design director Vanessa Spence says they “have grown in popularity” as customers have become “more accustomed to wearing head-to-toe pops of colour”. And, on the fashion platform Lyst, searches for pink suits have gone up by 69% over the past three months.
The pink suit has a long (and sometimes tragic) backstory. Look to US political history and essays have been written about the pink wool suit worn by Jackie Kennedy on the day her husband was assassinated, still stained with his blood. Much has been made of the power of Hillary Clinton’s many-hued “pantsuits”, and pink ones – from rose to hot – have made up a solid part of her repertoire over the years.
Beyoncé, then, is one in a long and illustrious line of pink suit wearers, but she might just be the first to wear one to an audience of two with the Mona Lisa.