When Adam Selman launches his collection Sept. 5 at a presentation at the Algus Greenspon Gallery during New York Fashion Week, it will be among one of the smaller venues in which his designs have made their debut. As Rihanna’s primary costume designer for the past two years, Selman’s work has not lacked for exposure, even if he has labored somewhat anonymously. Rihanna has 31.2 million followers on Twitter and 9.4 million on Instagram, where she regularly posts suggestive selfies that show off custom pieces by Selman, such as the barely there bikini — which featured a bejeweled cage for her breasts — she wore earlier this month during Carnival in her native Barbados. “The crazy thing is that every girl from 18 to 30 is wearing a costume like that,” said Selman, who accompanied Rihanna on the trip. “It wasn’t as scandalous as it looks in pictures, but after going and seeing Carnival, the bikini that I first made for her made a lot more sense.” He was referring to his first design for the singer, a Swarovski Elements bikini that looked like candy that he worked on with Tom Binns.
Not coincidentally, Selman is obsessed with swimwear because it can be “a little bit more ridiculous.” There’s a swim component to his spring collection, worked in a wearable way, along with soft lingerie and athletic references. There are boxy tops based on hockey jerseys, sweatshirts and pretty satin pastel robes and slip dresses. A kicky cotton twill skirt is paired with a matching jacket. Two of his main points of reference are the 1981 HBO special on supermodels called “Beautiful Baby, Beautiful” and the soft-focus sexpot glamour of Seventies Francesco Scavullo Cosmopolitan magazine covers. “It’s sexy. It’s that fantasy woman but it’s also sporty,” said Selman, surrounded by examples of vintage Cosmo covers, the models tan, toned and mostly clad in some form of spandex. “I really respond to that.” RELATED STORY: NYFW Newcomers — Nellie Partow >>
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A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"