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Sep 30, 2020

Vogue: Rihanna on Savage X Fenty’s Epic New Show

The upcoming show is sure to be a treat

by Janelle Okwodu | Sep 30th, 2020

In case you were wondering, Rihanna has been doing just fine during lockdown. At times it feels like the beauty mogul, fashion designer, multiplatinum musician, and occasional actress has done everything a person can do, but 2020 allowed her to tackle a new challenge: relaxation. “What I’ve appreciated most is having a still spirit,” she shared over Zoom from Los Angeles. On set into the wee hours doing promos, Rihanna still manages to look Fenty fresh in a black belted leather jacket and lacy bra top. The vibe is glam-goth and arguably the chicest thing to ever grace Zoom. Though she’s clearly mastered above-the-waist dressing, she’d rather discuss the advantages this year’s reset has provided: “Just quieting my spirit and listening to what God and the universe are presenting me.” The calm is enviable—her glow is evident even through the pixilation of a video chat—but even more impressive is how the star put her months of quiet to good use. After simultaneously breaking the mold for lingerie-themed television events and revitalizing New York Fashion Week with her first broadcasted Savage X Fenty show last year, Rihanna was ready to do it again. Her second streamed extravaganza (and third runway show) promises to break the internet when it debuts on Amazon Prime this week, but raising the bar for entertainment in the middle of a global crisis is no small feat. “It’s definitely been an unusual process,” she says. “We’re in wild, uncharted times right now, and we’re all just trying to figure it out [because] everything has been flipped on its head.”

The restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have forced everyone in fashion to think outside the box when it comes to presenting collections. Fashion month has had its mini films, interactive look books, and even puppets. Still, Rihanna wanted to preserve the thrill of a live-action experience, while keeping things safe for cast and crew. With multiple sets, performances from Travis Scott, Rosalia, and Bad Bunny, along with an array of dance sequences, the show merges concert and catwalk seamlessly. The logistics of the shoot at the Los Angeles convention center required months of consideration to bring the international array of performers together. Normally, Rihanna would tackle each step personally, but COVID-19 made that impossible. She says: “I want to have my hands physically on everything, and now it’s all being sent by email, pictures, and video, so it’s different,” she says of the shift to digital. “It’s kind of annoying for a control freak like me!” Whereas the planning for last year’s event was handled in person, this time around all preproduction took place via Zoom and FaceTime. “Whether it was rehearsals or meetings for the creative, dancers, and models, everything had to be done virtually,” she explains. “There are a lot of moving parts, and we wanted to make sure everyone was healthy first and foremost. With the global pandemic, it’s tough, but we’re tough cookies, and we love a challenge!”

That mentality carries over into the star’s daily routine; if anyone can espouse the virtues of working from home, it’s Rihanna. “I’m just lounging around, bumming out, and loving it,” she says of her time in lockdown, which she’s spent between California and Mexico. Of course, the Rihanna version of a lazy day is wildly productive. In 2020, she’s expanded into skin care, launched her fashion brand’s first shoe collaboration, and teased her highly anticipated ninth studio album—a lot to accomplish from the comfort of a living room. Naturally, she wore Savage x Fenty throughout, but her staples are more low-key than one might expect. “Robes are my new uniform,” she says with a laugh. “It’s comfortable, flexible, and easy. You can have thin ones, thick ones—why do anything else? You’re at home, no makeup, no weave. [I’m] chilling and doing what I have to do. Of course, I’ll put on clothes for a Zoom meeting every now and then.”

Robes may be Rihanna’s current default, but Savage x Fenty’s sexier pieces have still been an essential part of her at-home wardrobe. On Instagram, she regularly updates with peeks at the label’s latest wares, showing off lacy bra tops or posing on her balcony in nothing but transparent briefs and an emerald necklace. Far from contrived, the selfies project effortless sensuality. The ease she brings to those images connects with what she wants all women to experience while wearing one of her creations. In the past, marketing for lingerie was all about unrealistic fantasies, but Rihanna’s vision centers on making everyone feel desirable. “We always want to include women who haven’t felt sexy by society’s terms and expectations,” she explains. “We want them to feel like this is their safe space and hub, that we get it, and are one with them.” To that end, she filled this year’s Savage x Fenty show with even more diversity, and enlisted body-positive superstar Lizzo and 57-year old screen icon Demi Moore to model. “It’s always about being inclusive,” she says. “[The casting] is about who gives me what I want to feel. I don’t care about size, shape, or color; I embrace all types of women.”

For the countless Savage x Fenty fans drawn to the brand for its inclusiveness and bold design, the upcoming show is sure to be a treat. Filled with music, dance, and unapologetic sex appeal, the event arrives when many could use a pick-me-up. The boost that comes from small pleasures like watching a good fashion show on your laptop or wearing a cheeky piece of lingerie isn’t lost on Savage x Fenty’s founder. The year 2020, for all its faults, has found her in a moment of peak creativity and joy—something she’s eager to pay forward. “I’m paying attention to what makes me happy, appreciating the little things and taking advantage of them now that I have time to do them,” she says. “It’s been inspiring [finding] my peace and my happiness; everything flows beautifully from that.”

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