"A touch of couture. Everybody deserves a touch of couture."
That's what Tina Knowles said when, on the red carpet at yet another glamorous event, she was asked about the new fashion line that she and daughter Beyonce have launched. Tina emphasizes that House of Dereon is much more than just couture. It is also kick and soul.
Since Beyonce became a pop and fashion icon with megahit girl group Destiny's Child as a teen, the mother-daughter duo has established a reputation for creating and strutting fabulous cutting-edge fashions. Beyonce always has credited her mother, the group's stylist who started designing performance costumes for Beyonce when she was a child.
Tina, Beyonce and Destiny's Child have launched a number of fashion trends. So it's not surprising that mother and daughter would launch their own line. They call it House of Dereon in honor of Tina's late mother, Agnez Dereon, who is their creative inspiration. From Mama Agnez comes the soul. Tina's influence is the couture. Beyonce says she added the kick.
"I'm excited about House of Dereon," says Beyonce. "It's been my dream and my mother's dream for a long time. So many opportunities have come, but I did not want to put my name on something I would not wear, that I was not a part of. We have put together a great team and I have input on every item that we are developing. I add my flavor-the kick-to it all.
"House of Dereon is named after my grandmother, so it is a celebration of three generations," the multitalented artist continues. "I love the clothes from the '70s, my mother's clothes. I love clothes from the '40s, my grandmother's style, so elegant. We wanted to take elements from my grandmother's legacy--the beaded lace, lush colors, fine fabrics--and mix them with clothes from my mother's generation and my generation."
Tina Knowles echoes her daughter's enthusiasm. "I grew up surrounded by great style," says the East Texas and Louisiana native, adding that Beyonce was brought up in that same kind of style-conscious environment. "Dereon is dedicated to my mother's memory and it is a reflection of everything that she brought to both our lives ... My mother was ahead of her time," says Tina, sipping water in the showroom of Dereon's New York offices. On a rack nearby is an original dress created by Mama Agnez. "She used paper to cut her patterns," Tina continues. "She made beautiful dresses for customers and for us. She did a lot of hand-smocking and beading. She crocheted, knitted, upholstered furniture."
Tina says the family "had no money, we grew up poor," and as a child she wondered how her parents could afford to send her and her siblings to private Catholic school. "I later learned that my mother paid part of the tuition by making robes for altar boys, cloaks for the priests and altar cloths for the church. She was really talented. People would come to her for prom dresses and fancy gowns."
Tina adds that her daughters don't sew, but they know about "darts and hemming and what makes clothing fit well." Tina tells of the time that Destiny's Child was scheduled to perform at a U.S. presidential inaugural event for teens, and the wardrobe luggage was lost. When Tina rushed from the venue to find a local store, she forgot her identification and backstage pass. Security would not let her back in. As show time approached, Beyonce and colleagues resorted to embellishing T-shirts and jeans with studs and sequins and were on stage performing--and looking great--by the time Tina fought her way backstage.
That resourcefulness obviously came from the stylist and author who put the girls on the fashion map. Another close call came when, a few hours before she was to perform for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Beyonce learned she was to do a second number. Tina rushed to the local market to get fabric, cut out a dress "free-hand," stitched up the sides, and wrapped fabric around her daughter's head. "It turned out beautifully," recalls Tina. "We kept the dress as a souvenir; we have a picture of Beyonce wearing it with Mr. Mandela. That time I surprised myself."
Neither fans nor fashion mavens should be surprised by the exquisite selections offered by House of Dereon, which caters to ages 13 to 40. The greatly anticipated holiday and denim collections are now in fine department and specialty stores. "I'm working on fall 2006 right now," says Tina.
"It's my dream, but I'm finding out just how much work is involved," she says of the fashion world. "It's a lot of work. Yet, it is a labor of love for this talented mother-daughter team that seems to be unstoppable on so many fronts.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Johnson Publishing Co.