Solange Knowles offers art through her music videos, creating accessible contemporary works, and empowering images of black female women today. What Solange is able to do is create a new area of performance art through the use of high fashion, costume and direction. Extending her artistic creativity, the focus is on more than just the music.
Solange’s music videos are made up of minimalistic settings paired with modest makeup, wardrobe and music. Art is given more status than the artist, which is something unusual in the industry today. Solange dances her way throughout the videos, her contemporary style links each scene to the next. The muted palette Solange, her stylist Shiona Turini and art director Carlota Guerrero have created in these works is distinctly flawless, each visual frame is a masterpiece of colour. Wardrobe, colour and setting are integral to each vision. From a dress made out of plants that fits her body effortlessly to a handmade gold tinsel dress, from start to finish her videos are about creating a narrative for her songs that make them more powerful. Solange works like an artist, and wears her feelings like she writes her songs.
"I wanted to present this super majestic and regal image of black people, black culture, and black street culture. I remember feeling out ideas, like velour suits and finger waves, or do-rags and furs. Shiona would send me back 10,000 references." (Vogue)
Even though there are many iconic pieces in her music videos including her orange duffle two-piece by Acne Studios and her Céline trousers worn in Don’t Touch My Hair, I have to talk about that Pink Crumple Coat. Designed by twenty-five year old Berlin based designer Nadine Goepfert, Solange wanted to wear her design down the red carpet at Vogue’s annual Met Ball, acting as a huge celebrity name supporting an up and coming designer. Unfortunately, the young designer explained that the coat would literally fall apart, plus the memory foam coat weighs five kilos. Determined, Solange featured it in the music video for Pink Cranes In the Sky. The coat itself is a work of art. Made as a ‘conceptual piece’, it looks weightless yet weighs so much. Like a large marshmallow, it’s a centrepiece that Solange takes from the context of high fashion and recycles into the art world to create her vision and message.
Solange’s A Seat at the Table album, released in 2016, has already been recognised for it’s musical success but has perhaps not received as much attention for its visuals. Pink Cranes in the Sky featuring Sampha and the iconic Don’t Touch My Hair are two of the music videos in particular that stand out for their setting and landscapes, and the wardrobe that creates a whole rounded experience of her music and world, made in collaboration with her husband Alan Ferguson. Solange’s powerfully pure lyrics are reflected in the minimalistic clothing and settings of each scene. Shells and beads are decorated and braided into her hair, "...it was about creating looks with the hair that were iconic black hairstyles, but also presenting them in a way that felt very me" she says (Vogue) These are modern, conceptual pieces of performance art, with visuals often inspired by young British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Solange’s music videos are totally in sync with Boakye's paintings in their minimalist use of colour and forms, exposing the reality that Solange’s works are grounded in the discourses of art and creativity.
"I wanted to express an almost stately look for black men and women, because I feel like historically we haven’t been put in the most regal or majestic context. I set out to create that in the album sonically, and I wanted that to carry through in the visuals as well. My husband, Alan, and I wanted to represent black sisterhood, strength, pride, and elevate the black man and all of his beauty and glory. This was our way of contributing to that narrative." (Vogue)