Beyonce Talks Feminism, Her New Clothing Line, and Being the Boss in Rare Interview

performs onstage during Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life - An All-Star GRAMMY Salute at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on February 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Photograph by Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

After years of all but ignoring the media, who knew that leggings would be key to finally getting Beyoncé to open up?

The pop supernova, who is notorious for avoiding interviews, speaks out in the May issue of Elle. The occasion? The launch of Ivy Park, an athleisure collection she put together with Topshop, which she announced last Thursday in typical Queen B fashion—a surprise two-minute video of her wearing some of the new gear.

In a wide-ranging interview, Beyoncé tells Elle about how the clothing line came together, what she thinks of feminism, and how she feels about being the boss. Some highlights:

The birth of Ivy Park

Beyoncé says she started toying with the idea of an athletic wear line when she realized that there wasn’t much out there for women like herself or her dancers. She’d been a long-time Topshop fan and customer and decided to reach out to Sir Philip Green, CEO of the retailer’s parent company, Arcadia, to see if he might be game for a collaboration.

I think he was originally thinking I wanted to do an endorsement deal like they’d done with other celebrities, but I wanted a joint venture. I presented him with the idea, the mission statement, the purpose, the marketing strategy—all in the first meeting. I think he was pretty blown away, and he agreed to the 50-50 partnership.

On bringing her expertise to the clothes

The pop star says she brought her decades of performing experience to bear on the details of the new line. “Because I’ve spent my life training and rehearsing, I was very particular about what I wanted,” she tells Elle. Among the items she pushed for: a high-waist legging “that’s flattering when you’re really moving around,” tops that hit just right under the arms, an invisible underlining that “sucks you in and lifts your bottom so that when you’re on a bike, or when you’re running or jumping, you don’t feel that extra reverb.”

Feminism and the wage gap

The singer expresses frustration over the controversy around feminism, saying that she doesn’t understand why some view it as a negative term. She uses it in her art, she says, to draw attention to the true meaning of the word and to the many inequalities that still persist—including the gender pay gap.

We need men and women to understand the double standards that still exist in this world, and we need to have a real conversation so we can begin to make changes. Ask anyone, man or woman, “Do you want your daughter to have 75 cents when she deserves $1?” What do you think the answer would be?

Her next business move

Elle reports that Beyonce is now planning to launch a number of young artists, “whose sound and image she has personally groomed and fostered,” using a new music-label arm of her company, Parkwood Entertainment.

On being the boss

Beyonce says she first got a sense of her own power after the Destiny’s Child’s debut album. The label underestimated the group, she says, so it was vindicating to see the record succeed after they insisted on writing their own songs and video treatments. Since then, her power and control over her business has only grown. Of course, there are downsides to being the boss, but the singer seems to think the tradeoffs are worth it.

“It’s exciting, but having the power to make every final decision and being accountable for them is definitely a burden and a blessing,” she says. “To me, power is making things happen without asking for permission.”

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