An Ode to Beyoncé’s Leading Role in Austin Powers: Goldmember

An Ode to Beyoncé’s Leading Role in Austin Powers: Goldmember

Critics say nostalgia runs in twenty year cycles. Well, the comedy Austin Powers: Goldmember hit the big 2-0 mark this week and Beyoncé’s star turn as Foxxy Cleopatra hits all our Y2K-nostalgia pleasure points. Her fashion in the film is a delightfully camp affair: metallic booty shorts, midriff jackets, big gold hoop earrings, and dangerously low-slung jeans with dramatic flared legs. In honor of the film’s anniversary—and Beyoncé’s new album, Renaissance, releasing today—what better than to revisit one of the star’s most fashionable roles?

Foxxy’s character is a pastiche of leading ladies in Blaxploitation films—the sort of characters Hollywood legend Pam Grier made a name playing. It’s no surprise then that Beyoncé and Goldmember‘s production team specifically mined Grier’s fashion, while also flipping through vintage issues of Ebony, Jet, and Vogue for inspiration. “When you start with a name like Foxxy Cleopatra, you can’t help but reference Pam Grier and that era. Goldmember was supposed to be set in ’75, but there were still a lot of ’60s aesthetics,” Deena Appel, costume designer, told Vulture in a recent oral history of the film

Ever the conceptual artist, Beyoncé even tapped into the character’s funky ’70s wardrobe off-screen. One standout moment came when she rocked an afro during a Destiny’s Child concert in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The afro made an unofficial press tour, of sorts — Bey rocking the ’do during an appearance on the video countdown show 106 & Park (R.I.P.) and on a Jay Leno-hosted The Tonight Show

The undeniable showstopper moment for Beyoncé’s Goldmember fashion era came with the visual for “Work It Out.” The Pharrell-produced track was featured on the Goldmember soundtrack and, for the video, Beyoncé leaned into a high-glam, roller-disco look. Featuring bedazzled jeans, a diamond encrusted hula hoop, and a slinky gold dress, the video is as much a vision of ‘70s fashion as it is of ’70s fashion adapted to early ’00s tastes.

After Goldmember, Beyoncé largely abandoned the Blaxploitation star look and moved on to carving out an aesthetic firmly grounded in modern pop aesthetics — leading to a bevy of iconic fashion moments, like her “Crazy in Love” look. But we’ll never forget you, Foxxy Cleopatra. 

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