Beyoncé received the Fashion Icon Award at the 2016 CFDA Awards Monday night after a loving intro from designer Diane von Furstenberg, and during her acceptance speech, the singer spoke of the impact fashion had on her life and career.
“Most of you guys don’t know this, but my grandmother was a seamstress. My grandparents did not have enough money; they could not afford my mother’s Catholic school tuition, so my grandmother sold clothes for the priests and the nuns and made the uniforms for the students in exchange for my mother’s education,” Beyoncé told the crowd. “She then passed this gift down to my mother and taught her how to sew.”
She continued, mentioning the outfits that helped make Destiny’s Child famous, and noting how they made her feel like Game of Thrones character Daenerys Targaryen, played on the show by Emilia Clarke.
“When we were starting out with Destiny’s Child, high-end labels, they didn’t really want to dress four black country curvy girls, and we couldn’t afford designer dresses or couture. My mother was rejected from every showroom in New York. But like my grandmother, she used her talent, her creativity to give her children their dreams. My mother, and my Uncle Johnny, God bless his soul, designed all of our first costumes and made each piece by hand, individually sewing hundreds of crystals and pearls, putting so much passion and love into every small detail. When I wore these clothes on stage, I felt like Khaleesi. I had an extra suit of armor. It was so much deeper than any brand name.”
Beyoncé then thanked all designers, calling them “fairy godmothers, and magicians, and sculptors, sometimes even our therapists.” She also made a call for a social impact through fashion: “We have an opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or a magazine cover and see her own reflection. The soul has no color, no shape, no form. Just like all of your work, it goes so far beyond what the eyes can see. And you have the power to change perception, to inspire and empower. And to show people how to embrace their complications and see the flaws and the true beauty and strength that’s inside all of us…”
Read her whole speech below.