Beyoncé loves designer bling—and wears it beautifully and often. But when shooting her surprise Visual Album, a collection of 17 eye-popping videos that were released without any formal promotion on Dec. 13, the superstar’s stylist, Lysa Cooper, pulled numerous looks from an under-the-radar source: New York City–based fine jewelry designer Margo Manhattan.
The pop diva and her “Yoncé” video costars, supermodels Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, and Chanel Iman, ended up wearing several pieces from the designer’s collection: chunky white gold necklaces, drop earrings, and rings, some with significant gemstones. Most prominently, Beyoncé wore a white gold statement necklace with an acid-bright hot-pants ensemble in her “Blow” video.
Beyoncé getting styled in a Margo Manhattan pendant necklace for her “Blow” video; the actual necklace (both courtesy of Margo Manhattan)
The visibility that comes from having the universe’s biggest pop star wear your collection—for a project that inspired 600,000 iTunes downloads in its opening week—is obviously a huge coup for the fine jewelry designer, who is the daughter of New York City Ballet prima ballerina Karin Von Aroldingen and goddaughter to ballet legend George Balanchine.
More Margo Manhattan pieces worn by Beyoncé for her ‘Visual Album’ (courtesy of Margo Manhattan).
We caught up with Manhattan for the scoop on what working with Queen Bey was really like.
JCK: How did you get pulled into this project?
Margo Manhattan: I had been working really closely with her stylist—she had borrowed something for one of Beyoncé’s videos, and Beyoncé ended up wearing a ton of the jewelry [she pulled]. Her styling team was absolutely amazing the way they put the whole thing together.
JCK: How did the jewelry loans work logistically, considering how top secret the creation of the album was?
MM: Everything worked out so last minute. It was, “Okay, we’re shooting Wednesday,” then “Okay, we’re shooting Friday.” The jewelry was moving from one shoot to another—in Texas, then in New York, then somewhere else. It was wild. [The team] was really great to work with. It was fabulous.
JCK: Did you talk to Beyoncé at all, or were you mainly working with Lysa?
MM: I did—she was great. She said she loved the jewelry and she requested it for the next round of videos.
JCK: Why do you think Cooper and Beyoncé gravitated to your work?
MM: My jewelry is kind of theatrical, so it lends itself very well to somebody like Beyoncé. She’s an amazing star and a bright light and she just made it shine. She really pulled it off.
My whole childhood took place behind the stage, behind the scenes with all the dancers and sets and costumes. It shaped my aesthetics 100 percent, and it [fueled] my passion for creating pieces that move really well, that fit really well, and that make a statement. I think it’s important to light up the person’s face and personality.