A year ago Rihanna took her fashion line Fenty x Puma, only in its second season, to Paris — perhaps in search of some design legitimacy; perhaps because Puma is owned by Kering, which is based in the city; or perhaps because she’s Rihanna, and she can.
Whatever the reason, she had a surprisingly successful run (surprising because when her fellow musician-cum-designer Kanye West did the same, it did not go so well; France has a healthy skepticism of the celebrity style arriviste), and on Sunday night she rode that success back into New York. Literally, thanks to three freestyle motocross racers who somersaulted their way over giant mounds of sparkly pink sand to start her show. Which was … a celebration of extreme sports clothes! Vroom.
O.K., subtle she is not.
Also scuba suits, bike shorts, track pants, moto leathers and body-baring maillots combined in a nylon, neon and navy blue mash-up of strut-your-stuff sports and attitude. Did her Paris sojourn make a difference in her clothes? Nah. Rihanna changes the city; the city does not change Rihanna. Among all the examples of that strange contemporary phenomenon known as the celebrity designer — and their numbers are growing — she is something of a law unto herself.
Unlike Kanye, she did not equate herself with the geniuses of silhouette, and drown her clothing in bombast. Unlike Victoria Beckham and unlike Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, she did not humble herself before the experts and work diligently to gain their respect, giving up her other career to toil away in the atelier. Indeed, she seems to be acquiring more careers practically every month (as of last week: beauty mogul). And yet she doesn’t seem to be dialing it in. She’s having fun. She certainly looked like it, anyway, riding around the runway on the back of a dirt bike and blowing kisses for her bow.
It’s an underrated dimension in fashion of late, though not entirely absent.