Hours before Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, Beyoncé delivered the first major Oscars moment of the night. The singer opened the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday with her highest-profile televised performance in nearly two years. Beyoncé transformed a tennis court in Compton, Calif. (where the tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams trained as children) into a tableau of neon-yellow and Black pride.
She sang “Be Alive,” her first Oscar-nominated song, an anthem featured in “King Richard,” a biopic centered on the father of the Williams sisters. Beyoncé wore a tennis-ball-yellow feathered dress, paired with elbow-length gloves and a crystal garter. She was surrounded by scores of dancers and an orchestra in vibrant neon yellow looks of their own.
Beyoncé’s gown immediately made the rounds online. (“Beyoncé looking like a haute couture tennis ball this is incredible,” one viewer tweeted.)
The designer behind one of last night’s most talked about looks? David Koma, who lives in London and was the creative director of the fashion house Mugler from 2013 to 2017. He also has his own namesake line.
Mr. Koma has long been a go-to for Beyoncé. The singer first wore a dress by Mr. Koma, 36, in 2009, for the MTV Europe Music Awards, which was pulled from his Central Saint Martins graduate collection.
Mr. Koma said he received a personal invitation to one of her concerts shortly after, where he met the singer. Since then, Beyoncé has worn a number of his designs on and offstage, including a sleek, leotard-adjacent creation featured in the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, which kicked off in 2013, and a sequin-heavy Brooklyn Nets courtside look last year.
“I was just so happy to see her onstage,” Mr. Koma said on Monday, speaking by phone from London. The designer, who is Georgian, said Beyoncé first contacted him about last night’s performance about a month ago. (The singer’s performance was officially announced only a few days before the ceremony.)
“The color was the first thing we decided we would go for,” Mr. Koma said. “Then it was more about the silhouette and what the dress was supposed to look like. We combined looks from two collections that I’ve done. One was the fall that we just presented, and the other one was the spring collection that I showcased on the Olympic swimming pool designed by Zaha Hadid.”
His designs have also been worn by Dua Lipa, Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansson. Mr. Koma worked with the stylist Marni Senofonte on last night’s look. Once the particulars were determined, Mr. Koma said, constructing the dress took only a few days.
The eye-catching design is steeped in technical expertise. “The main thing about this dress is the material,” Mr. Koma said. “It’s made of these recycled transparent sequins that we have. And it drapes incredibly beautifully.” He said his goal was to deliver a feel of “deconstructed glamour” for the singer, who has performed as “Sasha Fierce,” her brash alter-ego, in the past.
This is not the first time Mr. Koma has taken inspiration from tennis, which he has played since he was 3 years old. A number of the looks featured in his spring 2021 collection last year were inspired by the sport.
“Throughout the years, I’ve worked with many different tennis players,” Mr. Koma said, noting the sport’s “strength” and “power.” “How can it not be inspiring?” he said.