Beyonce's 'Lemonade' a 'Very Special Moment' for the Designer Behind 'Freedom' Dress (Exclusive)
"Beyonce is a strong, confident woman who is also very feminine and sensual," Maria Lucia Hohan tells Billboard. "This is the kind of woman I imagine when I design."
Beyonce's visual album Lemonade is a feast for the senses from start to finish, and the fashion it showcases is no exception. With everything from gothic Victorian gowns to street-worthy oversize furs, the looks seem to belong in both the past and the future.
The way outfits and text are paired often has a paradoxical logic: Take, for example, the cheery yellow Roberto Cavalli gown worn while Bey cheerfully smashes cars, declaring, "I'mma f--- me up a bi---." Another such moment occurs during the song "Freedom," in which Beyonce wears an ethereal maxi dress to deliver some of the most forceful lyrics on the album: "I break chains all by myself… A winner don't quit on themselves."
The Romanian designer behind that maxi dress, Maria Lucia Hohan, has seen her clothes worn by the likes of Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, but she still views her label as a "small brand." Billboard chatted exclusively with her about seeing her design become part of the groundbreaking visual album.
Tell us about the dress Beyonce wore in "Freedom."
The dress is called Meteora and features guipure lace details. It comes in two versions: mousseline ($1,377 retail) and chiffon ($1,482 retail). Beyonce wore the chiffon version.
Coincidentally, it was my favorite dress I wore during my visit to New York in September when my collection launched at Bergdorf Goodman. It is also the best-seller of the collection.
Was this the first time Beyonce has worn one of your designs?
It was. This is definitely a very special moment for me to receive acknowledgement from a major style icon of our age. I'm a big fan of hers.
How did the styling collaboration for this video begin?
I am represented by Ginnina D'Orazio's agency in Los Angeles and New York. They worked with Beyonce's stylist Marni Senofonte, who selected this dress.
What was the inspiration for this piece?
The dress is from my spring/summer pre-collection. The collection was inspired by exotic flora -- flowers and fruits whose beauty and freshness make me think of springtime. It's about happiness.
I always strive to create fluid feminine styles. Delicate ruffles and lace add extra movement while the dress is in motion, yet offer solemn greatness while it is still.
Did you know that your piece would be included in the final cut, or did you find out when you saw the visual album?
It was a complete surprise that the dress made the cut. I live in Romania, so I wasn't even in the U.S. However, I did receive a request to send another dress for Beyonce a few weeks ago.
Why does your design work for Beyonce, specifically within the context of Lemonade?
Beyonce is a strong, confident woman who is also very feminine and sensual. This is the kind of woman I imagine when I design.
Beyonce's not the first star who has worn your designs. What is it like to dress stars who run the gamut from Taylor Swift to Jennifer Lopez?
Celebrities and their stylists embraced and gave me a chance to dress them before fashion insiders started looking at my designs. I really owe my success to them first of all. I am not a big brand or a superstar designer. It was sweet that it was purely emotional for Taylor, Beyonce and others -- meaning that they saw my designs, they liked them and they wore them. That's the best compliment.