The Amazing Story Of How Ivorian Designer Loza Maléombho Was Featured In Beyoncé’s 'Formation' Video

Ivorian designer Loza Maléombho on how her work wound up in Beyoncé's surprise "Formation" video

Loza Maléombho's SS16 Zaouli collection (left) featured by Beyoncé. Credit: Robin Harper; Source:

Everyone’s been talking about Beyoncé’s surprise “Formation” release. But what few realize is that one of our favorite designers at Okayafrica actually gets a major co-sign in the unapologetically black and proud video.

If you pay close enough attention, you’ll notice one of Queen B’s dancers donning a look by Ivorian fashion artist, designer and label founder Loza Maléombho. The piece is from the Abidjan-based label’s brilliant Spring/Summer 2016 Zaouli collection inspired by traditional masks from the northern region of Côte d’Ivoire.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Beyoncé has shown love to African artists. In 2011, B introduced the world to the Mozambican dance group Tofo Tofo in her “Run The World (Girls)” video. There’s also the time she gave Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” speech the girl power anthem it deserved. Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman” features guest vocals from Guinean musician and FELA! On Broadway actor Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyaté. And speaking of Fela, last year The-Dream revealed Beyoncé once recorded a 20-track Fela Kuti-inspired album that has yet to see the light of day.

We asked Maléombho for the full scoop on how her own work wound up in the biggest music video of the year.

Did you know your work was going to be in Beyoncé's video?

Yes and no...

How did the collaboration happen? How was Beyoncé introduced to your work?

One of her stylists reached out to me for samples of different collections saying that they were going to be used in Beyoncé's video that weekend. She sent me images of samples I published on instagram so I guess Beyoncé saw them there? The stylist asked for 2 samples. I am based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and was just asked on a Wednesday to send samples to Los Angeles for that Saturday. From past experiences I knew that sending samples meant there is only a tiny, "small" probability that they are going to be used. Just imagine how many samples are sent to Beyoncé for a video! I mean, I don't think anyone in their right mind says "No I am not sending samples to Beyoncé, I am busy right now!", so I would never forgive myself for turning down that chance.

There were more challenges than the deadline: She wanted samples I didn't have anymore and I was working on a production order. So I stopped whatever I was working on to custom-make samples for her and sent them all on Thursday, praying that they get to her on time and hoping to get a glimpse of them in the video. Then, I took my mind off it.

Tell us about the design featured in the video...

The sample that made it onto the screen is a look from my latest Spring Summer 2016 collection. That collection was inspired by Djela Lou Zaouli, a Guro Princess from the Northern region of Côte d'Ivoire, who is nowadays celebrated through a traditional mask dance.

What was your reaction when you saw the video?

I watched it 4 times!! You really only see it for a fraction of a second, so although I was excited for the surprise video I wasn't too sure about my samples being in it. I was looking to see them on Beyoncé the whole time. So it wasn't until I saw the image of Beyoncé with dancers posted on her website (One of her dancers wearing my garments), that it triggered a reaction from me. It sealed the deal, and I couldn't believe it!!

What else do you have in store for 2016?

I am working on a Fall winter collection right now and planning to come to New York Fashion week this fall. That should be interesting!

Keep up with Loza Maléombho on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and head to her official site here.

Reporting by Sumaya and Alyssa Klein.

Arts + Culture

This Stunning Series of Self-Portraits Explores Love And The Concept of Letting Go

Cape Town photographer Meet The Internet shares a few images from her exhibition.

Cape Town photographer Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana, who is known online as "Meet The Internet," does not take the topic of love lightly. "Most of us rushed into it," she says, "and we started dating without understanding what love is."

Her latest photography series, Love Through My Eyes is, is a reflection on how people around her deal with love, from staying in toxic relationships because they fear being alone, to those who build walls around themselves in fear of heartbreak and are hence unlovable.

"We come from broken families," says Ngqoyiyana. "Some with no fathers at all, so we go out yearning to be loved by a man and pray for better experiences than what we see our mothers go through. We get our fair share of hurt, we watch people come to our lives, we share our bodies with them and when it's enough for them they leave. We even start understanding and forgiving the cycle."

This cycle is reflected in the photos. In most of them, the color red is prevalent, symbolic for love. And the main subject, which is the photographer herself, is elusive, hiding her face either with a mask or red ropes, which could symbolize the blinding effect of love and how it can suffocate you.

Ngqoyiyana wants the images to focus on both sides of love. "I like the concept of balloons," she says, "because from a young age it kinda teaches us the concept of holding on to something and letting go. Obviously letting go is never fun, hence we cried when we would see our balloons fly away."

Ngqoyiyana got into photography by taking behind the scenes photos in music video sets. Her first gig as a photographer was a matric ball, and she recently started directing music videos.

The photos for Love Through My Eyes took "roughly three weeks" to make, and are all self-portraits. A confessed shy person, for a long time Ngqoyiyana wasn't happy with her appearance. "I can be whoever I want to be with self-portraits, and I am not so conscious about the way I look," she says.

"When I started taking pictures I was at a stage in my life where I was depressed and anxious, because I didn't have a career, and with no tertiary education," says Ngqoyiyana. "I felt I was "wasting away," she says. "Self-portraits were more of an escape, or a 'pretend like I am doing more than I actually am.' But after seeing the reception on the Internet, I did more."

Love Through My Eyes ran for a day on the 10th of November in Observatory, Cape Town. As a result of the amazing reception, says Ngqoyiyana, more prints of her work are on the way.

Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana

Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana

Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana

Photo courtesy of Siziphiwe Ngqoyiyana

Follow Meet The Internet on Instagram and Facebook.

Blinky Bill 'Don't Worry.' Source: Youtube.

Watch Blinky Bill's New Video for 'Don't Worry'

The Nairobi producer releases the humorous visuals for his second single.

Blinky Bill dropped his long-awaited debut album, Everyone's Just Winging It And Other Fly Tales, last month and it's clearly been well received by fans in Kenya and all over the world.

His latest music video for the hard-hitting single "Don't Worry" was filmed in Detroit and directed by his usual collaborators Osborne Macharia, Andrew Mageto and Kevo Abbra.

Blinky prances around Detroit's Heidelberg Project—an outdoor art installation created to support the surrounding area's community—lighting up the vibe of this aggressive song.

"The song is called Don't Worry and I feel like the vibe we created with the visuals is in tune with the spirit of the song, which is just about staying in your lane and minding your business," the Kenyan artist mentions. "I like that it takes a song that is serious and aggressive and makes it a little more fun."

This video is an instant mood-lifter and definitely worth the view.

Watch Blinky Bill's new music video for "Don't Worry" below.

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Photo still via YouTube.

Falana's New Music Video for 'Ride or Die' Is a Must-Watch

The Nigerian singer returns with her first single in 4 years in this Daniel Obasi-directed work of art.

Falana couldn't let the year wrap up without making a statement.

The Toronto-raised Nigerian singer recently dropped the music video "Ride or Die"—her first single in 4 years—directed by Daniel Obasi.

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