You. Will. Be. Moved. Beyoncé received the 2016 CFDA Fashion Icon Award in NYC on June 6. The singer and Ivy Park guru, who accepted the award from fellow icon and designer Diane von Furstenberg and wore a sparkling, pinstriped Givenchy pantsuit to the event, was honored for the indelible and undeniable mark that she has left on fashion. However, Beyoncé's heartfelt 2016 CFDA Fashion Icon speech, in which she spoke about her grandmother using her seamstress skills as currency to pay for her mother Tina's Catholic school education, really and truly revealed the deep and lasting impact clothes have had on her identity and her career for years.
In her thoughtful speech, Beyoncé not only name-dropped Game of Thrones. She repeatedly referenced her mother Tina, pointing out how hard she worked and how she has always shaped Bey's style.
She also shouted out her uncle and the designers who traffic dutifully in this field, nodding to their artistry. In a single speech, Bey was able to prove that fashion isn't frivolous fluff. Fashion is how we express ourselves, is how many people make a living, and is how we leave a visual mark on the world. She was able to change the conversation about fashion by placing it in a real world, life-shaping and IRL context.
Every word that the singer said had measured weight and worth. It was effective and economical. She said what she needed to say and stayed the course and on topic beautifully.
Video of the speech is below.
See the full transcript of her speech, as well.
Thank you so much, Diane, for the things you just said about me. I feel so much love and I feel so proud. As long as I can remember, fashion has been part of my life. Its effect on me actually started before I was born. Many of you guys don’t know this, but my grandmother was a seamstress. My grandparents did not have enough money, they could not afford my mother’s Catholic school tuition. So my grandmother sewed clothes for the priests and the nuns and made uniforms for the students in exchange for my mother’s education. She then passed this gift onto my mother and taught her how to sew.
Starting out in Destiny’s Child, high-end labels didn’t really want to dress four black country curvy girls, and we couldn’t afford designer dresses and couture. My mother was rejected from every showroom in New York. But like my grandmother, she used her talent and her creativity to give her children their dreams. My mother and my uncle, God rest his soul, made all of our first costumes, individually sewing hundreds of crystals and pearls, putting so much passion and love into every small detail. When I wore these clothes I felt like Khaleesi. I had an extra suit of armor. It was so much deeper than any brand name.
My mother is fabulous and beautiful and she’s here tonight. My mother, my grandmother, and my uncle are always with me so I cannot fail. My mother actually designed my wedding dress, my prom dress, my first CFDA Award dress, my first Grammy dress, and the list goes on and on. And this to me is the true power and potential of fashion. It’s a tool for finding your own identity. It transcends style, and it’s a time capsule of all of our greatest milestones. So to my mother, my grandmother, my uncle, thank y’all. Thank you for showing me that having presence is about far more than the clothes you wear and your physical beauty. Thank you for showing me how to take risks, work hard, and live life on my own terms.
I want to say thank you to every designer who works tirelessly to make people think they can write their own story. Y’all are fairy godmothers, magicians, sculptors, and sometimes even our therapists. I encourage you to not forget this power you have or to take it lightly. We have the opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or magazine cover and see her own reflection. Soul has no color, no shape, no form. Just like all of your work, it goes far beyond what the eye can see. You have the power to change perception, to inspire and empower, and to show people how to embrace their complications, and see the flaws, and the true beauty and strength that’s inside all of us. Thank you so much for this incredible award, I’ll never forget this night. God bless you all. Thank you.”