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.


Casanova, Davido & Tory Lanez' '2AM' Will Soundtrack Your Weekend

Flatbush meets Lagos and Toronto in this addictive new single.

Brooklyn rapper Casanova rolls through with an energetic new collaboration with Davido and Tory Lanez.

"2AM" sees the rapper going in over highly-infectious afrobeats-meets-pop beat work, in the same vein as we've heard from massive hits like "Unforgettable." The song was produced by 30 Roc.

The single features the star power of Davido and Tory Lanez which gives "2AM" the increased potential to be one of those huge new jams that'll be getting constant spins this year on both sides of the Atlantic (it's already got the top slot in Spotify's African Heat playlist).

The music video kicks off in Atlanta but eventually follows Casanova to Lagos, where he connects with Davido in Shitta. The clip was directed by Nigeria's Meji Alabi, the creative force behind many of your favorite afrobeats videos.

"2AM" is the lead single from Casanova's upcoming EP, Free At Last, which is due from Roc Nation/Def Jam Recordings on February 15.

We talked to Casanova below to learn a little more about this new collaboration and sound for him.

Keep reading... Show less

Dive Into TOBi's New Music Video For 'City Blues'

The Nigerian-Canadian rapper delivers a solid jam.

TOBi is a Nigerian-born, Toronto-based rapper making music inspired by his early life move to Canada and the experiences around immigration and culture shock.

You might have previously heard his track, "Hidden Fences," closing out the finale of Insecure or gotten into his 2016 debut EP, FYi.

TOBi is now sharing the new single and music for "City Blues," which sees the rapper taking cues from Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" over a beat produced by Free n Losh. It's the first taste we're hearing from his upcoming debut album due later this year.

"[City Blues is] written from one perspective within the African diaspora, pertaining to being caught between two worlds and reclaiming my ethnic identity," TOBi tells OkayAfrica. "Embracing my name has been a crucial part of my personal growth."

"I drew inspiration from the Shakespeare quote: 'All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.' City Blues speaks about the many roles that a human takes on at once but from my perspective," he adds.

Get into it below.

Keep reading... Show less

Issa Rae to Star In Murder Mystery Rom-Com, 'The Lovebirds,' With Kumail Nanjiani

Issa Rae isn't playing with us in 2019!

Issa Rae has added yet another exciting project to her growing list for 2019, and we're totally here for it.

The actress and Insecure showrunner is set to star alongside comedian and Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani in the upcoming romantic comedy The Lovebirds, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox