20 Aug The Rihanna Effect
Whether she’s on your playlist or on the cover of your magazine, Rihanna’s whirlwind of success over the past decade has branched further than the charts. In the recent years she has taken the fashion industry by storm, and earned her place on the boards of many brands. Here is a detailed timeline on how the name Fenty is being worn as much as Fendi.
It all began in 2011 when Rihanna became the face of Italian fashion brand Giorgio Armani’s two lines ‘Emporio Armani Underwear’ and ‘Armani Jeans’. The public responded positively to the Barbadian’s ad campaigns signally the next step in her career, as the two partnered up to create a mini line combining both lingerie and denim. The collection was made up of lace underwear, a leather biker jacket, jeans, a rucksack and t-shirts. She continued as the face of the brand for two more seasons and then began designing for Armani again, however this time with her laid back, tomboy style in her mind-set.
In 2012, Rihanna embarked on a journey over to the UK to work alongside close friend and designer Adam Selman in a collaboration with British high-street brand, River Island. The two creatives revealed their first collection during London Fashion Week the following February. That month also saw the release of their ad campaign, which featured models such as Jourdan Dunn and Charlotte Free; as well as the launch of the collection in seven cities. Adam and Rihanna placed their feet on the accelerator, and just three months on revealed the ad campaigns for their second collection in the May of 2013. That August the third collection was revealed with a whopping 80 pieces to buy, which incorporated her urban yet sporty style with the phrase ‘G4life’ being printed among most of the pieces. Finally, that October, they revealed their last campaign and collection for River Island.
Some may argue 2013 was the year that the fashion industry finally fully recognised Rihanna’s impact and started to take her seriously. She fronted the Parisian brand Balmain’s Spring/ Summer 2014 ad campaigns shot by world renowned Inez and Vindooh. The campaign was directed by Franck Durand, however styled by her very own Mel Ottenberg, keeping the images within the brand’s aesthetic yet with her personal touch.
Rihanna did not stop there. She teamed up with the notorious cosmetics brand MAC in 2014 for their exclusive VIVA GLAM campaign, that aims to raise funds to stop the spread of AIDS and help those living with the disease. The two followed up with a second make up collection named “Riri hearts MAC”, being released in four seasonal collections over that year. Having created her perfect red shade “RiRi Woo”, she sold out the lipstick worldwide within 3 hours, and collectibely raising $60 million.
You do not need have to be a part of the Rihanna navy to be a follower of Rihanna’s street style. Over the years, she has made mouths drop with the provocative outfits on stage to the ball gowns on red carpets, to her private jet attire. Through all of this, she has always been draped in new season attire whether that be Vetements or Prada, or lesser known brands. So it was to no one’s surprise when CFDA awarded her the ‘Style Icon’ award in 2014, given to her personally by Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. If the night itself was not memorable enough, Rihanna accepted this honour wearing a custom made Adam Selman gown that was embezzled in 230,000 Swarovski crystals, leaving her practically nude, yet unbelievably chic and glamourous. But what else would you expect?
“Growing up I didn’t have a lot of access to fashion. But as far as I could remember, fashion has always been my defense mechanism. Even as a child I remember thinking, ‘She can beat me, but she cannot beat my outfit.’ And to this day I mean, that is how I think about it. I can compensate for all my weaknesses with my fashion. And so really, you really can.” Snippet of Rihanna’s acceptance speech
“That Rihanna reign just won’t let up” are very true words, as in December 2014 it was announced that Rihanna would take over as creative director of the womenswear section of German sportswear company Puma. She is said to have revived the athletic brand with her unique touch, enabling the company to reach new heights. The now famous ‘creepers’ have been seen on the likes of Cara Delevingne, Travis Scott and Future; the fashion trainers went from selling out within hours to 45 minutes. This exposure and shared love for the shoes helped the firm achieve a 11.5% rise in quarterly sales to rocket the usual figure to £679 million, with profits rising 2.6% to £8.4 million.
Rihanna went from good to great in 2015 when Dior announced her as their new spokeswoman for the brand, making history as the first black spokesman they have employed. This was soon followed by the ‘Secret Garden’ collection ad campaign shot in the historic Palace of Versailles by Steven Klein.
And her repertoire does not end there. Later that year it was announced that Rihanna would become Contributing Creative Director of Stance Socks. Moving forward in time a year, and she just launched her third sock collection for the brand, with a range of 19 different styles from over-the-knee to ankle socks.
Back to Puma, and Rihanna blazed her way into February’s elite New York Fashion Week schedule to present her first ready-to-wear ‘Fenty X Puma’ collection. It featured oversized furs, maxi dresses and statement sweats; recently all modelled by Naomi Campbell for Vogue Italia. Moreover, in the same month Rihanna’s first original shoe design was launched, THE TRAINER. The singer turned designer proceeded to launch furry summer slides in pink, black and white. Of course, these immediately became the No.1 must have item, and sold out in 30 minutes.
In British Vogue’s April issue 2016, Manolo Blahnik announced his all denim inspired collection created alongside Rihanna. After years of wearing Blahnik’s heels religiously, whether it be on the red carpet or just out to dinner with friends, the partnering up seemed effortlessly natural and the outcome was rather spectacular.
Rihanna’s latest fashion statement was with Dior. She created a small sunglass capsule collection entitled ‘Rihanna’; it features one frame with the choice of six colours. High fashion comes with a high price, and it was no surprise that the must-have sunglass would break your bank account. The Star Trek inspired shades cost a whopping £540 ($706), and are argued to likely only look good on the star herself.
That was the Rihanna Effect in a nutshell. Her effortless style and her creative ability is endless, and at the age of 28 she has achieved success that many strive for a fraction of. Her sense of awareness in fashion is admirable (let’s think back to the overly iconic Met Gala moment in 2015 when she wore the Guo Pei couture dress/coat that took 2 years to hand make), and it is hard to truly pin point her best moment fashion-wise. As a fan myself of everything she does and makes, I am excited to watch on the side lines for what her future in fashion leads to. – I