On Saturday evening, with 200 million people looking on, Madonna took to the Eurovision stage in Tel Aviv, Israel to perform two songs, old and new: Like a Prayer, which turns 30 this year, and Future, released only a few days ago featuring Quavo. For the occasion, she donned an outfit by Istanbul-born, London-based designer Dilara Findikoglu: a monastic hooded cape embroidered with the letter ‘X’, in reference to her upcoming album Madame X. Earlier in the evening, she wore another of Findikoglu’s designs – a sun-embroidered corset – to be interviewed by the evening’s presenter Assi Azar. (Her recently ubiquitous bejewelled eyepatch was worn throughout)
“I was imagining Joan of Arc as a dark, romantic queen who was reincarnated in Madonna’s body,” Findikoglu tells AnOther, explaining how the two pieces came about. “For example, the corset we made is a talisman of female empowerment, as it’s embellished with coins featuring goddesses such as Athena. I wanted to combine the armour elements from Joan of Arc with a corset to emphasise Madonna’s powerful, womanly body.” Armour-like sleeves, worn atop, were designed by Lara Jensen.
It is not the first time that Madonna has worn Findikoglu’s designs: in 2017, she wore her ‘Garden of Eden’ suit to perform in St Tropez, more recently, she donned one of her blazers during the promotion for her new album. Findikoglu herself has been open about her love of the musician – on Instagram she has called her “eternal inspiration” – and last year created a series of ‘cone bra’ T-shirts evocative of the iconic Jean Paul Gaultier-designed look Madonna wore during her during her Blond Ambition tour in 1990.
“I feel that myself and Madonna are both trying to be inspirational to women and girls and encourage them to speak up and be strong, independent people,” Findikoglu says. In this spirit, the Eurovision look – her first custom-made design for the artist – aimed to capture “the idea of an unconventional female warrior”. Other inspirations came from Milla Jovovich in The Messenger, and found photographs of turn-of-the century exotic dancers.
The perfomance itself, which took place on a vast set of stairs like those outside a cathedral, also came with a political statement: mid-way through, two dancers appeared arm-in-arm with the Palestinian and Israeli flags on each of their backs, in a nod to the ongoing conflict in the region (the move flouted Eurovision rules, and was added after the dress rehearsal). Though Madonna did not specifically comment, she later wrote on her Instagram: “Madame X is a freedom fighter… I am grateful. For the opportunity to spread the message of peace and unity with the world.