When Beyonce was growing up in Houston, she wanted designer jeans like every other kid in America. But her mother, Tina Knowles, wouldn't have it. She said, "Wear your own name on your butt."
"I was mad at her for a long time," Beyonce said in her dressing room at Staples Center last weekend, where she was curling her hair before the Destiny's Child concert. "She got us puff paint, glitter and rhinestones and said, 'Make it special yourself.' But she taught us to have our own identity."
Come next month, the rest of the world will be able to wear Beyonce's name on their butts, when the mother-daughter duo launches the House of Dereon fashion label. The line is named after Beyonce's grandmother, Tina's mother, a seamstress who inspired their interest in fashion. It ranges from jeans for $100 to fur coats for $5,900, with shoes, handbags and evening dresses in between.
The latest concert tour has featured versions exaggerated for the stage, including crystal-studded minidresses, taffeta gypsy skirts and jeans with a contouring wash.
"Our line is going to be different from other celebrity lines in that we are really designing it," says Tina, who has been designing costumes for the band from the beginning and is a stylist in her own right. Working out of studios in Houston and New York, she is sketching styles, choosing fabric swatches and trims, reproducing vintage buttons from Agnes Dereon's collection and overseeing production in Hong Kong.
"Beyonce brings a street element to the line," Tina says, grabbing the curling iron and going to work on the back of her daughter's long locks. "She'll see someone wearing a T-shirt extending past the hem of a jacket, and she will bring the idea to me. I listen to what she says because she's a fashion icon."
But what exactly is Beyonce's style? She's not a flesh-baring diva like Jennifer Lopez, or a skater kid-meets-1940s pinup like Gwen Stefani, both of whom also have fashion lines.
She's more of a chameleon who has worn clothes designed by her mom, as well as Roberto Cavalli and Gianfranco Ferre. If there is anything to say about her look, it's that it is appropriate for a 24-year-old. Tina agrees. "I call it event-appropriate, meaning you don't just have one style that you wear when you sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl and when you sing on a concert stage," she says.
When Beyonce was asked to sing at the Super Bowl in Houston last year, she and her mother designed a figure-hugging white skirt suit for the event. "I was so happy when she thought of it because that's what I would have done too," Tina says.
In fact, mother and daughter agree on most things relating to fashion -- except big earrings. "I've worn earrings as big as bracelets," Beyonce says with a laugh.
"And," Tina adds, "I always say, 'Why do you have to wear hula hoops in your ears?' "