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May 6, 2009

She Is Legend

beyonce knowles tour costumes

SASHA WAY FIERCE Mugler says his costumes were inspired by the words feminine, free, warrior, and fierce.

Photo Credit: Gilles Bensimon

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Before getting married, Beyoncé had endured fewer serious relationships than most college sophomores. And while her courtship with Jay-Z could not have been more public—immortalized in a multimedia scrapbook of duets and video clips of them popping champagne corks in speedboats—they made the decision not to let it define them, opting for a private wedding in New York with 40 guests in April 2008. Clearly, this potentially blingiest of couples wants to keep a little something for themselves. At one point, while telling a story about her hard-to-impress 4-year-old nephew, Beyoncé refers to the boy's "Uncle Jay," only to retract it in a fit of giggling. "Oh Lord, I can't believe I just said that! That slipped. 'Cause I don't do that."

Maintaining the balance can't be easy, given the amount of time she spends in the spotlight—collecting Grammys, high-kicking with Hugh Jackman on the Academy Awards, serenading the Obamas with the Etta James hit "At Last." Beyoncé says she was so overcome by the sight of Barack and Michelle that her throat seized up and she nearly blew a crucial note. "I had to tell myself, 'They asked you to do this. You have to do a great job. This is their history. Calm down. Calm down.' I barely made it. Literally seconds before the song started, I was crying like a 5-year-old." But she got through it; no doubt the O-B-A-M-A spelled out in acrylic on the singer's left hand had a calming effect.

And so does the knowledge that there's more to life than monster fame. "I think she has learned that you have to work hard but you need your time off," says Gatson. "It's like, 'I'm not gonna go through this life doing all this and not have any fun.'"

In other words, catch a basketball game with your man whenever possible; have dinner at that out-of-the-way candlelit pizzeria in Brooklyn. "We try to sync our calendars," Beyoncé says. "I started working on my tour a year ago just to make sure that I had time at home. But you know, that's part of it. Any other woman who has to go to work and pick up the kids and make dinner—that's way harder than what I have to do. At least I can say I'm taking two weeks off and really take two weeks off."

Beyoncé smiles slightly to herself. "My priorities are slowly changing. So after this tour I might be tired and want to take two years off. I've worked hard enough to be able to do that. I'm in a very good place."

Mark Healy is the director of editorial projects at GQ.

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