One year ago, most would have described Rihanna as a “singer.” Now, her title is a little more complicated. Sure, she’s released eight albums (another is on the way, she promised on Twitter this week), but now the Barbadian-born star has entered mogul territory.
After launching her inclusive Fenty Beauty line in September of 2017, Rihanna debuted a lingerie label called Savage in May of this year, and appeared in Ocean’s 8 one month later. It seems like she can do anything—except maybe get a full eight hours of sleep with that busy schedule.
Dancing alone in one’s underwear is about as life-affirming as it gets. Perhaps no one knows that life truth better than Rihanna, who nixed traditional fashion week staging in favor of a supermodel slumber party that reinvented what a lingerie runway show can look like.
In their frilled, traditionally feminine robes, with feathers bouncing from the seams of their bras or panties, models that included surprise guests such as Joan Smalls, Leonie Anderson, and Gigi and Bella Hadid danced around in celebration of an uninhibited femininity.
Though the cast featured both VIP and professional dancers, not all of them moved with the coolness you’d expect to see on the floor of an exclusive club. Some jerked with abandon, like many women do alone, in front of dusty mirrors all over the world.
But it was the appearance of pregnant 22-year-old model Slick Woods that sent an invigorating, palpable energy through the crowd.
It’s rare to see baby bumps on the runway. When pregnant models are used, like Lily Aldridge in Brandon Maxwell’s recent show, their stomachs remain covered. Fenty went one step further, not merely just casting a mother-to-be to, but giving her full permission to be hot, too.
In a strappy black bodysuit (that was more body than suit) and matching pasties, Woods was among one of the least-covered models of all. It was a reimagining of what maternity wear can be; there were no sexless, elastic-waistband jeans in sight.
Like everyone else on stage, Woods and another expectant mother moved with a slinky grace, finding power in their womanhood (despite wearing stratospherically high stilettos).
Such is Rihanna’s style ethos: sensuality is yours for the taking, and is just as much of a state of mind as it is what you put over your body. Much like when she wore a pope-esque get-up or meme-able Guo Pei pizza gown, the designer enjoys subverting expectations of glamour.
Woods was not the lingerie pin-up bra ads have trained consumers to expect to see. Her casting proves that Fenty’s dedication to diversity is not just lip service; it is an active effort to reinvent outdated aesthetic standards of beauty pertaining to body shape and ethnicity.
True, Rihanna’s stans are so loving that whatever she pulled off this fashion week would have been lauded. But the multi-hyphenate is not one to rest on her laurels, which is another reason her presentation felt so genuine.
When Rihanna took the customary designer’s victory lap at the end of the show, the models stood at attention. With any other celebrity, it could have felt like militaristic idol-worshipping.
Not so with Rihanna. Clad in a simple brown mini dress and tiny sunglasses, the star walked tall, but with a fast gait that dismissed attention. It seemed as though she was trying to get off the runway as fast as possible.
Maybe, this was just so she could go party (after all, she deserved a glass of champagne). But it could also have been because the Fenty ethos has never been a self-serving one.
The label is gloriously giving, existing for those revelatory moments when a women finally finds a base that truly matches her skin tone, or slips on a comfortable bra that actually fits. It feels like Rihanna will not stop advocating for those minor miracles to become commonplace—and she'll do so with her signature flair.