When the behemoth of luxury LVMH announced that it would be collaborating with Rihanna on more than just cosmetics (the conglomerate currently owns Fenty Beauty), it made sure that the artist would be the first black woman to run a major luxury fashion company. Not that Rihanna is averse to making history – in the last couple of years alone, she has prioritised inclusivity with the brands she has developed. First came Fenty Beauty, which transformed the cosmetics industry thanks to its 40 different shades of foundation, followed by Savage x Fenty, a size and gender inclusive approach to lingerie. In one fell swoop, Rihanna drastically altered the landscape of two of the least diverse elements of the fashion and beauty industries.
Fenty, Rihanna's latest foray into clothes, footwear and accessories, officially launched in May this year but has already made such waves in the industry that it just won the Fashion Award for Urban Luxe, beating the likes of Marine Serre and Moncler Genius (responsible for the enormous puffer gowns seen on the red carpet).
Janet Jackson presented Rihanna with the award, telling her 'You're loved for your style, your boldness and your strength as a woman. You're respected as a successful artist, fashion designer, activist, entrepreneur and for being the first black female at LVMH. Congratulations.' Taking to the stage, Rihanna said 'Thank you so much to the entire British Fashion Council. I want to thank Mr Bernard Arnault [the CEO of LVMH]... thank you so much for believing in me as a young black woman and my talent. Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to prove what I want to do.'
Proving that she really is her own best advert, Rihanna was wearing a mint green (or 'wasabi-green' as Fenty calls it) satin mini dress with an oversized sheer shirt she wore over it and matching satin shoes. Each piece launches in Selfridges shortly, meaning that by Friday 6 December, fans will be able to shop the entirety of Rihanna's Fashion Awards outfit.
The Fenty collection is comprised of Rihanna's inimitable mix of traditionally masculine tailoring and softer design elements. A sharp-shouldered blazer, for example, comes in sugary pink, while there are puff-sleeved stripe shirts and oversized denim jackets. There's an interesting mix of materials, too, with denim, leather and a fabric called 'Weapon', to which Rihanna referred in a recent interview with the New York Times:
"One of [the fabrics] is called Weapon.19 That’s what we ended up making our suits in. Even making clothes in luxury is different. All the techniques are, like, ridiculous... I use myself as the muse. It’s sweatpants with pearls, or a masculine denim jacket with a corset. I feel like we live in a world where people are embracing every bit of who they are. Look at Jaden Smith,20 Childish Gambino.21 They dare you to tell them not to."
Rihanna also spoke of the inclusivity of Fenty Beauty, saying: "In my own household, my father is half black, half white. My mom is black from South America. I was seeing diversity. That’s all I knew. Growing up, I wanted to be darker, always. So, making makeup, it wasn’t even a thing I had to think about. I didn’t even really know how bad it was, the void in the market for dark foundation, because all I’d seen was black women put makeup on. I don’t even think 40 shades is enough! And so I added 10 more recently, and we’re not gonna stop there."
Similarly, Rihanna has ensured that Fenty is more size inclusive, as most luxury brands fail to cater to sizes much bigger than a UK 14: "I’m thick and curvy right now, and so if I can’t wear my own stuff then, I mean, that’s not gonna work, right? And my size is not the biggest size. It’s actually closer to the smallest size we have: We go up to a [French size] 46 [the equivalent of a UK size 18]. We’re saying we can meet you at any one drop that we put out."
In terms of the drops, there will be new product each month, available exclusively online as Rihanna wanted to build a direct-to-consumer brand. Given that it's a luxury brand, the clothing won't be cheap (A suit jacket is $1,100, which is around £865, while there are those puff-sleeve shirts for $600 – around £470) but there's also footwear and accessories at a slightly more accessible price point. But whether or not you actually buy into the Fenty brand, one can't help but be impressed by Rihanna's tenacity, her work ethic and the fact that she's blazing a trail for so many other young creatives to follow.
SEE: All The Best Looks From The Fashion Awards Red Carpet
Fashion Awards Red Carpet Arrivals 2019
Newly pregnant Millie Mackintosh opted for a pistachio, high-neck dress with blouson sleeves by Emilia Wickstead rented from My Wardrobe HQ.
Model and activist Arizona Muse wore an elegant three-piece suit, in head-to-toe white by sustainable fashion brand Deck rented from My Wardrobe HQ.
British rapper Little Simz in a navy suit, printed blouse, heeled Gucci loafers and an eye-catching orange hat.
Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, wore an elegant, off-shoulder gown by Emilia Wickstead.
Charteris wore a glittering gold gown by Giambattista Valli rented from My Wardrobe HQ, featuring a cut-away detail and bows on the sleeves. She carried a bag by Mulberry, and wore a necklace and earrings by Missoma.
Supermodel Stella Maxwell chose a paisley printed gown.
Naylor-Leyland chose a colourful Peter Pilotto dress rented from My Wardrobe HQ with exaggerated sleeves.
James Blunt arrived with his wife, Lady Sofia Wellesley, who wore a sequin dress by Needle & Thread rented from My Wardrobe HQ.
The designer duo behind fashion label Palmer//Harding.
The British singer wore an emerald silk dress that's part of a collaboration between Flannels and Vivienne Westwood.
The Gossip Girl star wore a camel roll neck with his suit.
The rapper wore a pair of custom Nike trainers designed by MattB Customs.
The Insta-famous Doina paired Monica Vinader earrings with her own take on the classic tux.
The designer naturally wore a dress of her own creation.
The model wore one of the puffer skirts from her collaboration with Moncler and Valentino's Pierpaolo Piccioli.
The Youtube star wore a silver Gyunel gown.
The actress wore a striking red ensemble.
This year's host opted for an ethereal white outfit complete with impressive jewels.
The TV star wore a floral print dress.
Paget wore a repurposed, up cycled dress by Ssōne and jewels by Swarovski.
The actor also wore one of the amazing puffer creations from Liya Kebede's capsule collection with Moncler Genius and Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Parsons wore Osman.
Chiara Ferrigni wore a gown designed especially for her by Etro.
Lady Amelia Windsor wore a dusty-pink gown by PHILOSOPHY DI LORENZO SERAFINI.
Joining Armani on the red carpet, Blanchett wore a gown from his couture collection, Armani Privé
The actor wore a black off-the-shoulder Burberry gown.
Chung wore a dress inspired by Jane Birkin and created by her own label, ALEXACHUNG
The actress wore J W Anderson
Wearing Patrick McDowell and upcycled Swarovski crystals
The supermodel wore Burberry
Wearing Monica Vinader
Batgio wore a black dress by Richard Quinn
The singer wore bespoke 16Arlington
Carrying a Roger Vivier clutch
Wearing Simone Rocha
Oh wore Erdem
Wearing Atelier Swarovski x Stella McCartney
The supermodel wore Alexander McQueen
Smalls wore Atelier Swarovski x Stella McCartney
The supermodel wore Atelier Swarovski x Stella McCartney
Wearing Monica Vinader
Wearing Monica Vinader and David Koma
Wearing Messika Jewellery
Wearing David Koma
Angela wore a custom pink velvet dress, by high street brand Warehouse. She accessorised with a clutch bag by Tyler Ellis, and necklace by Missoma.
Lottie Moss wore a black layered gown by ALBERTA FERRETTI.
Obviously, Donatella wore Versace.
Susie Bubble wore a tulle dress by Molly Goddard.
The supermodel wore a green Valentino gown.
The designer wore one of her own colourful creations.
The superstar wore a green mini dress and sheer shirt over the top, both from her own label Fenty.
Wearing Messika Jewellery