Few people have had a summer as thrilling as K.J. Moody’s. The stylist, also known for his work with Kelly Rowland, Chloe Bailey, and Kash Doll, has been jet-setting around the world co-styling his cousin, Beyoncé, on the Renaissance World Tour. (Bey’s mother, Tina Knowles, is Moody’s aunt.) Multiple nights a week since May, he’s provided the megastar with a show-stopping wardrobe as she dazzles millions of fans from city to city. Unlike with previous albums, Beyoncé dropped Renaissance with no videos or visuals except the cover art, leaving the tour to fill in the artistic gaps. That’s where Moody steps in.
What does one do with such a blank slate and one of the world’s most emphatic fan bases analyzing every detail? Rise to the occasion, of course. “As a celebrity stylist, you are like a therapist for the soul of the people you are blessed to work with,” Moody tells ELLE.com. “More than they want to look good, you want them to feel comfortable in what they are wearing, almost like a second skin, and have them look as though that outfit was created specifically for them.” From a metallic-winged leotard to a massive petal-shaped cape, Moody has had Beyoncé looking as stunning as ever.
Moody, a creative manager at Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, has been affiliated with the phenom since 2018, after years of prop styling and working alongside other stylists like Zerina Akers, but Renaissance marks his first global tour. Considering he’s styling a woman with a reputation for excellence and setting new bars, Moody had some large shoes to fill. The first step to assuming such a large task? Build the right team.
Moody, Julia Sarr-Jamois of British Vogue, and award-winning wardrobe stylist Shiona Turini tag-team on the tour’s costume design, taking turns styling Beyoncé for each show. Each head stylist works with their own teams who make the gargantuan production possible. “I have a wonderful assistant Vance Gamble who is a genius,” Moody says. “If I say I need something custom, short, and silver with fringe, he knows 15 designers that have that exact vibe.” For months on end, Moody and Gamble have co-created mood boards featuring local designers and helped develop looks that pay homage to each country the tour has visited. “Unique, local, and smaller designers have the same hunger I have as a young stylist in this industry,” he says. “We just want to create magic without all the politics.”
With the teams formed, the only thing left to do was ideate and execute. In May, the tour kicked off in Europe and fans flooded stadiums wearing disco cowboy hats and lots of sparkles. Each stop has led to even more creative looks, with some assembling head-to-toe recreations of earlier tour outfits, and others coming up with wearable takes on favorite songs like “Church Girl,” “Alien Superstar,” and “Break My Soul.” “I never imagined seeing everyone’s interpretations on what this album means to them—until it hit the concert arena,” Moody said humbly. “Her fans really took it to the next level.”
Moody’s creative process, even before the tour, involves pulling inspiration from the past, mixing it with the present, and accenting it with pops of the future. “You get to morph something new from different avenues of fashion,” he says, “which I think is simply beautiful.” When it came to this show-of-all-shows, Moody brought even more research and personal experience to the forefront. “I’m from Texas, so my point of view is inspired by things I’ve observed in photos and stories I heard when I was younger. Black cowboys are a real thing and, especially in the ’80s, the film Urban Cowboy was huge, as was majorette culture in Black nightclubs.”
Moody toyed with some of the elements stemming from this specific cultural world, like cut-off denim shorts, corsets, thigh-high boots, and homemade bodysuits. After remixing those references with a little camp, elegance, and flair, the looks really took on a life of their own. And then, to polish everything off, Moody worked to ensure that Black women and LGBTQ designers had a seat at the table and were shown the love they so deserve.
For Moody, fashion has always been a lover and a friend. From a young age, he craved the space and opportunity to reinvent his individual style. “Even though I grew up wearing school uniforms,” he told us, “I created looks in my head of how that sweater, tie, and shirt collar could be made fashionable. Don’t they know that seeing creativity helps you to be more creative?” (If you’re a school uniform company, Moody still has a few ideas about how to freshen up those designs, by the way.)
For his sophomore year, Moody enrolled at a creative high school where he was exposed to even more possibilities that boosted his “style IQ.” The Texas native believed in pushing the boundaries of what’s considered fashionable. For years, he looked up to renowned stylists like June Ambrose and Rachel Zoe, as well as a few closer-to-home muses who he got to witness more intimately: Ty Hunter, Beyoncé’s longtime stylist and friend, and, of course, Knowles. “They are the reason I’m a stylist today,” he shared, teeming with gratitude. “Each one of them have definitely and undeniably left a stamp on this styling industry.”
Growing up, Moody never leaned on name-dropping to get ahead, instead choosing the route of hard work and being genuinely hungry for opportunities. The advice he clung to was: “Always be teachable, but don’t let anyone bully you or make you feel as though your contributions are insignificant.” This was invaluable wisdom for surviving the fashion world, which can look glamorous from the outside, but be harsh on the inside. “I remember taking a styling job when I was 20 years old, styling an ad campaign for a hotel, and the producer wouldn’t even look at me,” Moody recalls. “I felt she had issues with me, my age, my race, and the fact that I was selected for this job. Whatever it was, she was not happy, and she wanted the world to know it.” Though the moment was frustrating at first, Moody realized that this woman’s attitude couldn’t change the fact that his talent got him in the room.
“To this day, that campaign is still up on the hotel’s website,” Moody concludes with a smile before reiterating the mantras that have kept him focused. “You may not be center stage, but you are on the platform! Yes, you are learning, following an experienced lead, and love having great mentors; but you are also ready to work and add your own creative viewpoints to that collective canvas.” Moody’s unwavering spirit amidst the politics and emotional toll of the industry has taken his career to new heights, including styling runways for Dolce & Gabbana and ensuring the hottest musical performers look as amazing as they sound. That knack for letting his work speak for itself has kept him steady and prepared for anything life throws. Like, say, a world tour with six acts, 56 shows, and some of the largest stadiums this planet has to offer.
Ten years ago, Moody had recently quit a cushy celebrity styling gig to go off on his own and, since then, he’s accomplished things most stylists only dream of. How does one follow successfully styling the highest-grossing tour by a Black artist in history? Though he has visions for more editorial fashion and creative directing, Moody doesn’t want to rush himself and, instead, will allow for things to unfurl organically. “I haven’t even turned 30 yet, so I’m currently enjoying every relationship I’m building, every young person I am inspiring, and every creative thought I’m still dreaming,” he notes. It’s actually quite refreshing to not be bombarded with an aggressive 10-year plan full of lofty ambitions. Moody is grounded—perhaps a testament to those slower, Southern ways—and his quiet confidence makes him irresistible.
Brea Baker is racial and gender justice activist working locally and nationally towards the liberation of all oppressed people with an emphasis on Black people and women. When not organizing, you can find her traveling the world, listening to Beyonce, or manifesting the life her ancestors deserved.