If New York Fashion Week has been any indication, Rihanna is reclaiming the world for her own. Between the launch of her highly anticipated (and hella diverse) Fenty Beauty line, the showing of her Spring/Summer 2018 Fenty x Puma collection, a fresh October cover for ELLE US on top of building a girls school in Malawi with her Clara Lionel Foundation, designing collaborations with Manolo Blahnik and Chopard, and hype still building around her role in next year's all-female Ocean's Eight; it's easy to see why. Oh, yeah, don't forget she's still one of the most successful recording artists in the world. The multi-hyphenate Barbados-native has many talents, but above all is the unmatched power to both do her own thing - giving zero fucks - and be a philanthropic advocate for human rights and education without a shred of hypocrisy. Not since Cher has a public figure had the brassiness to ever evolve, test fashion limits, speak out for change, speak their mind, and be totally uninterested in the public's perception. Case in point: the now classic ponytail flip and grin during her Harvard Humanitarian of the Year acceptance speech earlier in 2017 that broke the internet and became the ultimate GIF of attitude, confidence, and sass. To be Rihanna is to be totally unapologetic.
Nowhere is this more apparent than her personal style. She has it down to a science. It's practically instinctual. Many of her looks have become iconic - there's this year's Met Gala look, as well as last year's, that CFDA ensemble, the "Wild Thoughts" look... I could go on for days. But it is when she's pounding the pavement when the real looks are served. Credit has been given, in large part, to Rihanna for propelling street wear into the the high fashion stratosphere, and that is greatly due to her singular ability to make the street incredibly couture and couture very street. Anything she puts together has a certain lived-in quality to it that only her attitude can produce. Mixing Off-White, Balenciaga, and Dior with distressed boyfriend jeans or Maison Margeila sweats, Louis Vuitton, and an Alexander Wang fur coat with an oversized hoodie, Rihanna crafts looks with the most enviable sense of blasé. As of late, she's ventured into proportion play - opting into oversized, structured blazers and trousers, exaggerated, silhouettes with designers like Céline, Y/Project, Matthew Adams Dolan, and Vêtements. Example: the pre-fall 2017 grey Céline jumpsuit and black blazer number she wore to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and First Lady Brigitte.
There are some hallmarks to Rihanna's uncanny sartorial aesthetic - many of which have parlayed into very successful collaborations. First, some serious leg action is a major key. RiRi is a big fan of short shorts, minidresses, t-shirt dresses, and high-low hemlines. Plus, I'm pretty sure they're insured for like $1 million, so why not show them off. All of that stem action is met with a pair of statement shoes - sometimes dainty and strappy, other times think and chunky. Cue her collaboration with Manolo Blahnik where the duo created stiletto chaps in fabrics like denim and suede as well as strappy gem-encrusted heels with names like 'Poison Ivy' and 'Stones'. And let's not forget those furry Puma sandals and creepers which ushered a sea of low-price lookalikes. Then, as the song goes, no look is complete without her shining bright like a diamond. Be it rings on rings on rings, layers of bracelets, earrings, or tiers of necklaces (sometimes all of the above), jewels add that "bad gal" effect to already impeccable looks. Tee up her collaboration with Chopard, featuring a bevy of Rihanna approved pieces.
Then there's her collaboration with Puma, which showcases Rihanna's aforementioned craft at marrying the high end with the street, and avant-garde with the casual. Celebrity collaborations have come and gone. But what each Fenty x Puma collection offers is something that satisfies a careful curation and artful display of Rihanna's coolness, which seems to never go out of style, but rather is arguably one of its defining forces. This season's show saw BMX riders flying over magenta glitter dunes. Think Burning Man Festival-meets-X Games-meets-Mad Max: Fury Road. The collection as a whole took heavy influence from the world of motocross. Bike shorts, rash guards, buckles, harnesses, windbreakers, track pants, and swimwear all in technicolor hues like hot pink, safety yellow, and hazard orange with black and navy as a base. Each model, of course, glowing in Fenty Beauty. As the finale parade filed down the runway, three BMX bikes trailed behind. In true Bad Gal form, there was Rihanna on the back of the final bike to take her bow.
There is something to be said about one's level of style influence when a mere image of them carrying a wine glass makes it the coolest new accessory. That is the power of Rihanna, and the definition of a true modern icon.