Becca McCharen of Chromat's sketch for Beyoncé's VMA performance. Photo courtesy of Chromat  Beyoncé performs at the MTV VMAs. Check out the Chromat outfits at 3:00 Chromat's Logo Bandage Top in black and Logo Bandage Skirt in black/white Chromat Pentagram Suit III in white Becca McCharen. Photo by Lina Michal

How Chromat Created Custom Face Masks For Beyoncé's VMA Performance

BY Alice Hines | Tue. August 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM | A la mode
"We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings the way that boys are," echoed the voice-over at Beyoncé's VMA performance Sunday night. It's no surprise that the message, sampled from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is shared by Becca McCharen, the Brooklyn-based designer behind Chromat. Becca created the arm cages, bustiers, and custom face masks sported by the singer's back-up dancers during her rendition of "Haunted"––a band of writhing black widows whose bondage-inspired costumes somehow made their dance moves seem even more effortless (or should we say #flawless?).

"That's our whole M.O., to give power to our wearers and to create armor they can wear into the world," Becca said by phone yesterday from her Spring/Summer 2015 lookbook shoot. Becca, who founded Chromat in 2010 while she was studying architecture at the University of Virginia, has worked with Beyoncé on stage outfits ever since the singer's 2013 Superbowl performance, also decking out the star and her dancers for the On the Run tour. This time, Becca had only four hours to get the VMA outfits ready. "We got the call at 5 PM this Friday afternoon," she said. "We had four hours to make the masks before we overnighting them to LA."

In 2014, can corsets, cages, and other garments that once restricted the movement of women's bodies and their sexuality be empowering? Well, duh. "I'm all about women choosing what they want to wear and it not being dictated [to them] by fashion or trends," Becca told us when we checked out her studio earlier this year. "If you want to wear a corset, then you should, but obviously you don't want society telling you to wear a corset or crazy bras." 

Of course, in a time when people are still questioning whether sexiness and feminism conflict––see Fox News' odd interpretation of Bey's performance––this message doesn't always get through. But, if you can't splay the word "FEMINISM" on a giant LED screen for millions of national television viewers to see, a badass cage bustier and a bossy attitude might do the trick.

Any plans to make harnesses that might fit baby Blue Ivy, who also made an appearance at the VMAs? "We've actually done baby Chromat!" McCharen told us. "We've made little baby harnesses for the staff." Check out her designs to the left, and watch this space for coverage of her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, debuting next month at NYFW.

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