Rihanna Talks Lingerie, Body Positivity and Her ‘Battle’ With Social Media

By September 14, 2018Lifestyle

The singer and designer wants to broaden the fashion community while also disorienting it.

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Rihanna, at her Savage x Fenty lingerie show, aims to broaden the fashion community.CreditCreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times

Last year Hamish Bowles, a writer for Vogue, asked Rihanna in an interview about her big-picture plans for her fashion brand. “I know where I’m going next,” she said. “But I can’t tell you that. What’s the fun in that?”

After her Savage x Fenty lingerie show last night, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Rihanna’s strategy seemed clear: She plans to broaden the fashion community while also disorienting it.

She wants to entertain herself, too. “I get bored. I get very bored,” Rihanna said backstage after the show. “It’s like a pair of shoes, you know. They’re only good until tomorrow.”

Already, the singer and designer has shown that restless daring with her personal style, turning an ever-present wineglass into an accessory and wearing a dress by a young designer fresh out of Pratt Institute in a music video.

With Fenty Beauty, the makeup line she introduced last year, she created a truly diverse makeup brand, offering products in dozens of shades across the color spectrum.

The crowd, too, felt more diverse than the typical celebrities and fashion regulars, many of whom were on their way to the airport to catch flights to Europe for the shows there.

As for the disorientation, the presentation paid little attention to fashion show protocol. Models emerged unannounced in dim light until the milling crowd took notice that the show had actually started; cellphones were then whipped out.

The elevated stage was more built installation than runway, with a pond, a “growing station” and tropical-plant-filled botanical domes that blocked sightlines. Unless you moved around the room (there was no seating), you missed half the looks. The vibe was less lingerie-show gawkfest than performance art piece, with models moving in slow motion, crawling on all fours, executing fierce choreographed dance moves.

Backstage, Rihanna said the concept was about mixing the organic with the futuristic, “or what we hope to see in the future. Women being celebrated in all forms and all body types and all races and cultures.”

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Bralettes, undies and pajamas were shown amid tropical-plant-filled botanical domes at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. CreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times
The atmospherics were less lingerie-show gawkfest than 1970s performance art.CreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times

She added: “It’s a shame that women have to feel insecure or self-conscious about how their bodies look.”

The crowd included the model Stella Duval (left) and the hip-hop artist Christian Combs (center). CreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times

“I get that it helps the brand and it’s a way of communicating your events and your new products to your fans and to the world,” Rihanna said, before adding, “there’s a battle between what you genuinely want to share and what people care to know.”

She laughed. “I respect it. But, you know, I’m not going to put my every meal” on it.