Celebrity Style

21 Years Ago, Beyoncé Wore A See-Through Crystal Bra Top & Made History

She made one of most memorable album covers of all time.

21 Years Ago, Beyoncé Wore A See-Through Bra Top On Her 'Dangerously In Love' Cover
Michael Buckner/Billboard/Getty Images

Yes, it’s already been over 20 years since Beyoncé released “Crazy In Love.” In June 2003, the singer ascended to solo stardom with her debut album, Dangerously In Love, which proved that she was a force to be reckoned with outside of Destiny’s Child. The album won five Grammys and spawned four Billboard top five hits, including her infamous collab with now-husband Jay-Z.

However, that album also proved that she was a fashion icon in the making. All it took was Beyoncé putting on some crystals to create a memorable cover, and it remains one of the most iconic images in pop culture.

Beyoncé’s Iconic Crystal Top

Styled by her mom Tina Knowles, Bey wore a custom lattice top made entirely of Swarovski crystals, fastened together at the shoulders with large floral gems. Even the sleeves extended into a crystal grid that created a majestic cape-like effect.

In 2023, photographer Markus Klinko told Interview about shooting the album cover, revealing that Bey was inspired by his 1990 image of French supermodel Laetitia Casta in a diamond spider web. “She asked me if I could do something like that, but smaller on her, and I didn’t really know what to make of that,” he recalled.

Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love album cover. Beyoncé / Markus Klinko

Luckily, he didn’t have to look far, as Knowles brought just what Klinko had envisioned. “When they arrived at the shoot, I looked at the styling pieces and there was this top [made of] Swarovski crystals and I grabbed it and said, ‘This is exactly what we talked about. We can do something amazing with it.’”

In December 2020, Knowles reflected on co-designing the top with jewelry designer Jose Barrera, which were inspired by crystal pants that Cher wore on a 1990 Vanity Fair cover.

“I saw the cover while in his showroom and asked, ‘Could Jose fashion it into a top for Beyoncé?’” she wrote on Instagram. “We added a few extra touches. Jose is a genius. The rest is history!” However, Bey actually wasn’t sold on the crystal top at first.

Dangerously In Love Jeans

To let her top shine, Beyoncé kept the rest of her outfit simple, pairing the crystals with just blue jeans, but that wasn’t the original plan. Bey and her mom brought skirts to the set, and she initially wanted to ditch the crystal top because she thought it’d be too much.

“She was like, ‘I don’t know, because we only have skirts and it’s going to look very red carpet,’” Klinko recalled to Interview. “So I said, ‘I believe that this should be paired with denim. What if you wear mine?’ I had on these Dolce & Gabbana men’s jeans. And she said, ‘Okay,’ and so I went, I took them off, and they fit her like a glove.”

Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love photoshoot. Beyoncé / Marcus Klinko

And yes, even though Beyoncé could’ve preserved those jeans to show in a museum, they found their way back to Klinko. “A few months later, she returned the jeans. She’d had them cleaned and they were nicely wrapped with a ribbon,” he told The Guardian.