Rihanna's New Fashion Line Is Like Marie Antoinette at the Gym

Today's show in Paris was just the latest step in Rih's full-court press on the high-fashion industry.
September 28, 2016, 8:41pm
Screencaps from 'Rihanna' Stream on Tidal

In 2014, Rihanna launched a veritable full-court press on the fashion industry at Paris Fashion Week. She partied with Olivier Rousteing at Balmain, cheesed with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, and sat front row at Dior. If her aim was to get the industry's attention, then it was clear today in Paris, at her latest showing for Puma, that she's succeeded.

Kanye West seated at Rihanna's show in Paris

Ms. Fenty is a part of a new cadre of celebrity designers, most closely related to Kanye West. While he has taken the reigns at adidas by creating a company within that athletic brand to produce his Yeezy line, Robyn has become the creative director of Puma's womenswear line. For the brand itself, the move was an attempt to bolster the women's business (which has reportedly done well, having also signed on the likes of Kylie Jenner and social media influencers like YesJulz). For Rihanna, though, it was just the latest step in a continued courting of the high-fashion industry.

Rihanna stands as the first ambassador of color for Dior—A$AP Rocky is her counterpart in Dior Homme. She furthered her groundbreaking status by becoming the first ambassador for the label to collaborate on products when she released shades with the brand this summer, adding to a glowing stable of collaborations that include a capsule collection of footwear with Manolo Blahnik. All of this, combined with fronting other brands like Balmain, make it clear that Rih is going for the upper crust of the fashion industry.

Today's showing, which was screened live on Tidal, was similarly elevated. Backstage in Paris—the fashion capital known for its exclusive haute couture ateliers focused on craftsmanship and artistry as opposed to American studios typically thought to be based on commercial viability—Rih told the press her collection was as "if Marie Antoinette was going to the gym and needed something to wear." The approach respected Puma's athletic base with sweatpants and hoodies, but injected an experimental and seemingly lingerie-inspired thread that was appropriate for Paris.

To be clear, the collection felt very now, featuring crop tops and chokers on both men and women. A guy in a drab-colored negligee slip top, a girl in a pink do-rag, and a five-panel Puma cap with a logo-ed veil all went down the runway alongside lace-up sweats. Those laces reoccurred throughout the range as corsets were integrated into a variety of pieces. Even the fanny pack got a redux as an oversize bow.

Elsewhere, pastels and olive swirled together. The looks appeared to focus more on the styling than the actual design prowess. While that might read as a slight, it's actually a reality of the times. The industry's foremost designers are all essentially merchandisers and stylists: Alessandro Michele at Gucci, Marc Jacobs at his own brand, and so on. The best designers increasingly, like Rih, are curators who build worlds around their respective brand's core businesses.

In that respect Rihanna has done well. In a range that could have been pulled from the best VFILES Made showcase's collections, she provided enough of a world for fans to cop the hot ticket slides, flat-form creepers, or trainers from the line. She's curated the perfect range (essentially using her own personal style as a template) to cause fans to look at an established brand in a whole new light.

And for that, this latest showing was a success.

For more photos from the show, see below.

Follow Mikelle Street on Twitter.