Rihanna recently debuted her runway collection with Puma. She has been a creative director and global ambassador for the brand since January 2015, recently collaborating with them on footwear, but it was only this February that she released her first full collection with them.
The fashion set made their way to 23 Wall Street for the show, a departure from the regular locations of Midtown and Soho. Inside had been transformed into a digital forest: electronic music blasted from the speakers, lights danced on the overhead mirrors, smoke billowed as the models took to the runway, and stark, bare trees lined the catwalk, caging the models in.
“The Black-and-White Forest,” confirmed the set designer, Stefan Beckman. The goal, he said, was “turning nature on its head.”
The clothes mixed streetwear with gothic elements such as corsets, velvet brocade and lace. The result was a punchy army of models; each who looked as though they could be wearing an exact replica of an outfit seen on Rihanna in a paparazzi shot.
Many of the pieces were emblazoned with bold Japanese characters or Olde English Script, bearing either the words ‘Puma’ or ‘Fenty’ – Rihanna’s surname, which she has used as the label name for her collection in homage to her father.
The models’ hair and makeup was innovative and striking, as is expected when Pat McGrath is in charge. Lips painted coal black and hair scraped back with stark white paint to set it in place created a witchy, gothic vibe perfectly suited to the winter forest setting.
Rihanna’s hand in designing was clear; displaying a mix of both the slinky, sexy silhouettes and sporty streetwear she favours; with a sports luxe mix of slip dresses, creepers, hoodies, heeled boots, and mesh crop tops. The collection did not only cater for women, with Rih showing she is equally capable of designing and styling menswear. Male models wore hoodies, baggy sport pants and puffa jackets that perfectly complemented the looks adorning the female models. The colours were suitably muted for the autumn/winter clothes she was showcasing, focusing mostly on grey, black and navy tones. One notable exception was a pair of canary yellow lace-up boots.
“If the Addams Family went to the gym, this is what they would wear,” Rihanna said backstage after the show.
Overall, the result definitely had Rihanna’s stamp on it, but left a little lacking in terms of imagination. Oversized hoodies and coats, body chains, nipple-exposing sheer fabric and stacked creepers all reminded us of who the designer was, and this was perhaps the downfall of the collection. As a collection showcasing her personal style, it was perfect. However, as a design attempt, it took a little too much inspiration from other designers.
The clothes will definitely sell – there are no shortage of people who covet Rihanna’s wardrobe, and this is likely as close as you can get to it without dipping into designer dressrails. This, having people actually wear the clothes, seems far more important to her than critical acclaim:
“The only thing that can make me feel better than tonight is to see somebody else wearing my stuff on the street. Down the street, on Instagram. Instagram’s pretty much down the street at this point. To see anybody, especially if I think they’re cool, and they chose to wear it, that’s a big deal. That’s a big deal. Like somebody buying your music. But better. Because they have to do it in public.”
Of course, no-one will wear it more publicly than Rihanna. Closing the show in a printed faux-fur hoodie that grazed her mid thighs and a pair of lace-up heeled sneakers, she exuded the attitude needed to pull off such a look. After all, no-one can wear Rihanna’s clothes quite like Rihanna.