Designer recalls ‘indescribable feeling’ of seeing Beyonce wear her clothes

They appeared during a chess scene in the Black Is King visual album.

Melissa Simon-Hartman
Melissa Simon-Hartman

Costume designer Melissa Simon-Hartman has said seeing Beyonce wear her clothes during the Black Is King visual album was an “indescribable feeling”.

Simon-Hartman, whose Simon-Hartman London company specialises in hand-crafted pieces, made seven outfits and headdresses for the 85-minute film, which was released in July.

Black Is King, written, directed by and starring Beyonce, was based on the music she made for last year’s remake of The Lion King and featured her husband Jay-Z and daughter Blue Ivy.

Disney’s The Lion King European Premiere – London
Beyonce (Ian West/PA)

Simon-Hartman said the project had been “all very cloak and dagger” and she had only discovered the nature of it when the trailer was released.

Her clothes were worn by the black pieces in a game of human chess, plus Beyonce.

She told the PA news agency: “It was emotional, extremely emotional. It was an indescribable feeling.”

She added: “It was all very cloak and dagger so for me it was a case of being told, ‘There is a Beyonce project, I would like you to work on a scene which is based around a human chess board and I would like you to do the black chess board pieces’ and that’s it – that’s all I knew.

“I was really excited when the trailer came out for Black Is King and I realised that was what the project was for. But it was a great surprise.

“Even though I was commissioned to do it you still don’t know whether it will make the final cut so I was suffering some anxiety for about a year, because that’s how long ago I did it.

“I wasn’t sure if it would make the cut or not. I was really glad to see it did.

“I loved the scene because it was quite light-hearted compared to the other scenes. It was a fun one and I was so pleased.”

Simon-Hartman’s costumes appear in a short film called Costumes Of Carnival, which features four dancers from the Notting Hill Carnival and premieres on Friday.

She said: “The dancers are carnivalers. They are carnival masqueraders. They are people who take part in carnival all of the time and have a passion for it.

“I wanted that authenticity to be carried across. I’m really glad that Samsung embraced that concept and I think we have done it very well.”

– Samsung, official partner of Notting Hill Carnival 2020’s online edition, Access All Areas, has created a series of mini-films, highlighting their 8K technology. The content will launch this year’s carnival with a live countdown on the Piccadilly Screen, and will be available to watch in 8K online at

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