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Chatting couture and concerts with Beyonce’s mom

The stylist and support system calls her daughter “quite a vocalist”

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Beyonce.
Photo: Scott Doctor/www.greatscottstudios.com

They say if you’ve got it, flaunt it, and Beyoncé Knowles definitely knows how to shake what her momma gave her.

She’s made millions doing it -- $87-million a year, according to Forbes magazine’s recent calculation – and the woman who helped inspire and enhance the star’s considerable assets, her mother, remains at the center of it all.

“It’s been an amazing run,” Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, says. The marathon that is her daughter’s career shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

Her famous daughter has collected a baker’s dozen Grammy Awards and this weekend is in Las Vegas to wrap up her North American “I am… Yours” tour with a quartet of intimate shows at Encore Theater.

“She’s really looking forward to the intimacy of this,” Knowles says. “It’s a different show from her ‘I am… [Yours]’ tour, completely different, … [and] she’s very excited about being able to do songs that she doesn’t get to do on the show regularly.”

“This is more like an intimate, heartfelt something that she doesn’t get to do every day,” she explains. “She’s changed things up and it’s going to [have] a lot of fun surprises.”

Beyonce with her mother Tina Knowles, the designer of House of Dereon.

The matriarch’s smile is audible even as she speaks over the phone. While her cell phone cuts in and out of range as she and her grandson wind their way through the aisles of a Los Angeles bookstore, her mother’s pride remains clear.

“She has worked so hard,” she says of her daughter’s recent efforts to tailor and perfect the performance that she has been giving in arenas across the country for the 1,500-seat Encore Theater. “She’s putting it together as she goes along so it’s been a really big challenge.”

“I think as of Sunday they had worked 14 days in a row preparing for this,” she says of the crew.

The four-night engagement will provide fans with an up-close and personal look at the superstar. In addition to the scaled-down size of venue, the set list and show itself have been reworked and are totally unique.

“It’s a totally different show,” Knowles asserts, which means the band had to learn new songs and back-up dancers had to learn new choreography.

Not that fans should expect Beyoncé to abandon her material and turn the Encore showroom into a cover song-filled cabaret.

“They’re all her songs,” Knowles assures. “She has so many songs she [only] does a fraction of them on tour … [but] she’s going to get to do them on this show.”

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It would seem that when it comes to songs that she loves to sing, Beyoncé suffers from too much of a good thing.

“She has a lot of hits,” Knowles says, chuckling as she concludes, “That’s a good problem to have.”

Knowles is humble and gracious despite both her and her daughter’s success.

“I feel very blessed,” she says when asked about her daughter’s megastar status.

While Knowles is understandably thrilled by Beyoncé’s accomplishments, it seems that it is her daughter’s down-to-Earth demeanor that makes her the proudest.

“She’s very, very talented, but also a nice person,” she insists. “I feel very blessed to be a part of … all the challenges and the accomplishments.”

Knowles has been working with her now-famous daugher, designing costumes, for over a decade.

“I was her stylist for many years and designed a lot of the stage costumes,” she says.

Beyonce during an appearance at the now-defunct 40/40 Club.

Beyonce during an appearance at the now-defunct 40/40 Club.

She has since hired a full-time stylist for her daughter (she “discovered” him while he was working at Bebe in her hometown of Houston) and has had to hire him an assistant, as well.

While she remains focused on her daughter’s onstage attire, she oversees two fashion-forward side projects, as well: She runs the high-end, dress-filled fashion house that she named after her mother, House of Dereon, and another, more affordable line of clothing designed to appeal to her daughter’s fans.

While House of Dereon is sold at high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales (and the shops at Wynn Las Vegas), Knowles says “the other [collection] is a young, contemporary line [that is] more affordable for the fans.”

“It’s more funky, fan-based clothes,” she says.

Despite a hectic life full of touring, recording, acting, modeling and putting in appearances, Beyoncé is “very involved” in her mother’s work.

“Beyonce is very involved in the shoes and the handbags … She’s constantly giving input,” Knowles says, explaining how she and her daughter get to travel the world and pick up on trends before they hit the U.S. market.

Still, there’s only so much Beyoncé can do in addition to her other commitments, and her mother knows her role, too.

“Does she sketch things and design them? No,” Knowles states plainly. “That’s me.”

Perhaps taking the lead from her mother, Beyoncé is a veritable fashionable force to be reckoned with – so much so that Forbes magazine recently named her the fourth most influential celebrity on the planet. Only Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna are more powerful – and in that order.

Still, her mother is the one that dresses her – for the most part, at least.

Beyonce is a fan of Rock & Republic denim.

Knowles says that after more than a decade of designing her daughter’s costumes, she knows a thing or two about what the particular-but-not-too-picky performer likes.

“I’ve been doing the costumes for 12 years now so I kind of know what’s going to work … (and) all the little tricks of what we need to do to make the clothes work onstage,” she says.

While dressing her 27-year-old daughter has its challenges, Knowles insists Beyoncé isn’t a diva.

“She definitely has ideas about exactly what she wants,” she says, “[but] she’s never hard to please.”

Yet as the words leave her lips and travel the hundreds of miles from L.A. to Las Vegas, a sly, knowing smile is detected on the Nevada side of the line.

Knowles says that when it comes to fashion, her daughter and former Destiny’s Child singer mixes it up and spares no expense.

“She’s ever-changing, she’s ever evolving, she changes her style, she reinvents herself,” she says.

“She loves all the high-end designers, of course,” she adds, citing Jean Paul Gaultier and Dolce and Gabbana as some of the star’s favorites

“Right now she’s loving Balmain, the whole shoulder pad thing,” Knowles says. ”Their new collection is really beautiful [and] she’s invested in a lot of the jackets.”

The loving and dedicated mom personally delivered some particularly fragile pieces of couture for this weekend’s performances.

One of the items, a Jean Paul Gaultier jacket that she hand-picked from a runway collection in New York and brought with her to L.A., then to Las Vegas, required some extra-special attention.

“It’s all beaded and intricate but if you bend it, you bend the cage and then it messes up the shape of it,” she explains. “It can’t be packed [so] we stuffed it with all of this bubble wrap and I had to hand-carry it on the plane and make sure that we could put it in an overhead [luggage compartment] by itself so nobody touched it.”

“I’ve been guarding it with my life.”

Despite her admittedly above-and-beyond efforts, as of yesterday afternoon she was unsure if audiences would ever see the jacket onstage.

“Ultimately Beyoncé makes her decisions about what she’s going to wear,” she said, “[and] she hasn’t seen it yet.”

Calendar

Beyonce at Encore
July 31-Aug. 2, 8 p.m., $250 - $1000
Encore Theater

The final calls were made last night during dress rehearsal.

“I’m just praying that she loves it and doesn’t think it’s too much,” she said just hours before her daughter gave the high-maintenance jacket a once-over.

Her daughter only had one demand for her on-stage alter-ego: That Sasha Fierce would not have to endure more than one costume change.

“She wants to really focus on performing, she doesn’t want to disconnect with the audience for this show,” Knowles says.

“She’s quite a vocalist,” she says, in what may have been the biggest understatement of the day.

Beyoncé has, after all, collected 13 Grammy Awards over the years and enjoyed album sales somewhere in the neighborhood of 118 million records since first stepping into the spotlight with Destiny’s Child. Few would challenge her status as “quite the vocalist”

Despite her extensive touring experience, Knowles says this weekend’s shows will be something special for her daughter.

Several members of the Knowles’ family, including Beyoncé’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and superstar husband, Jay-Z, have come to town for the event.

“This is more like an intimate, heartfelt something that she doesn’t get to do every day,” Knowles says. “It will be a treat.”

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Melissa Arseniuk

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