Rhianna - the only girl (in the world) with her own French fashion house
- BY: RACHEL O'BRIEN
- Jun. 26, 2019
There is no doubt that Rhianna is the ultimate slashie. Her list of achievements would probably be longer than the train on the Big Bird yellow Guo Pei gown that she wore to the Met Gala in 2015 – singer, serial collaborator in music and fashion, social media maniac, cosmetics queen, lingerie visionary, champion of education for girls, actress and trend setter. And now, with the announcement by LVMH in May of a new fashion house to be called Fenty, with Robyn Rhianna Fenty in charge. This is the first brand launched from scratch by LVMH since Christian Lacroix in 1987, will offer ready to wear, shoes and accessories.
Now, I don’t know about you, but something tells me that Rhianna hasn’t spent too much time behind the wheel of a Janome. So when a luxury brand behemoth like LVMH makes a decision like this, is it important that she can sew, draw or design? And should it matter?
In the past, the trajectory of head designers has included stints at textile and design schools such as Central St Martin’s in London (Stella McCartney, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen), Parsons School of Design in New York (Donna Karan, Alexander Wang) or winning a prestigious fashion award such as the International Woolmark Prize (Valentino Garavani, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent). Followed by years of honing their craft, being apprenticed to a fashion sorcerer, learning the ropes in other designing areas such as in accessories (Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino) and as assistant (Phoebe Philo at Chloe).
Clearly, Rhianna didn’t get the memo. Perhaps we should have seen this coming when Louis Vuitton approached DJ, entrepreneur and Off-White designer, Virgil Abloh, to join forces last year on a mens wear collection that had just as many women clamouring for a piece as men. With degrees in civil engineering and architecture, his work with Kanye West and his vision at his label Off-White, which combines ideas of streetwear, luxury, art, music and travel, Abloh is certainly a jack of all trades. For a French fashion house that began 160 years ago making trunks, Abloh’s T’shirts were the coveted items from his first show.
Inspiration comes in many forms – history, music and art are some of the influences seen in some of the most memorable fashion designs of modern times. The radical femininity of tight fitted jackets and padded hips following the austerity of WW2 in Christian Dior’s New Look and Yves Saint Laurent’s geometric designs in his 1965 collection, an homage to Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian to name just two. So it’s a little alarming when, talking about sources of inspiration, Rhianna said at the Fenty launch: “You can have an idea. It could literally be a rubber band on someone’s wrist.”
Whilst LVMH are achieving some Neil Armstrong-like firsts with this collaboration, Rhianna is the first woman to start a fashion line with LVMH as well as being the first woman of colour to have reached this goal, we will have to wait and see whether her designing skills match her business acumen. Fenty will debut in September 2019.