PARIS — Rihanna has provided the first glimpse of her Fenty fashion collection and revealed the LVMH-backed line will debut in a pop-up store in Paris on May 24 and online on May 29, operating outside of the conventional fashion show schedule under a system of see-now-wear-now drops.
WWD broke the news on Jan. 17 that the pop star was working with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton on the high-profile fashion project, an extension of their wildly successful Fenty Beauty line.
The “Work” singer and the French luxury conglomerate confirmed the project in a brief statement on May 10, saying the new luxury maison would be based in Paris and launch for spring 2019 with ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories.
In a statement on Monday, the label named Robyn Rihanna Fenty as its chief executive officer and artistic director.
“Women are forces of this earth. We are multifaceted, complex, vulnerable yet bulletproof, and Fenty speaks to all of our intricacies,” it quoted her as saying.
“The collections are easily worn together and meant to be staples in our wardrobe. I’m just hyped to see people in my clothes, man,” Rihanna added.
In a preview clip posted on Instagram, a diverse group of models sports a range of utilitarian-inspired, mono-toned looks, such as suits with wide-leg pants offset with streamlined fanny packs, ultra-short corset dresses and oversize denim jackets. It shows Rihanna darting in and out to adjust the outfits, underscoring her hands-on approach to the fashion line.
It was the first post on the @fenty account, which has amassed more than 265,000 followers since it was launched earlier this month. Visitors to Fenty.com can sign up for notifications.
“Reflecting Rihanna’s own style, her character and experiences, Fenty seeks to empower our audience and customers, transforming their attitude through our clothes and silhouettes,” the statement from the label said.
It touted the brand as marking a “new evolution in luxury — created from simple yet elevated materials, engineered with a modern take on classic silhouettes.”
The product releases will include special editions, items available for limited time-periods and core products. They will be available on the label’s e-commerce site and pop-up stores aimed at offering a “unique experience for both a physical and digital audience,” Fenty said.
WWD was the first to report that LVMH had handpicked a clutch of employees from within, including some from Louis Vuitton and Celine, to work in tandem with Rihanna and some of her key associates. Among them are Veronique Gebel, previously rtw director at Louis Vuitton, who has been named managing director of the Fenty label.
This marks the first time LVMH — whose forte is modernizing legacy brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Bulgari and Dom Pérignon — has launched a fashion brand from scratch since it set up a couture house for Christian Lacroix in 1987.
Only this time, it’s with a celebrity — who will also be the first black woman to head an LVMH brand — and the development could change the future of Hollywood dealmaking in the fashion space, according to marketing experts.
The project significantly raises the bar for celebrity-led fashion brands, given LVMH’s mighty finances, access to prime retail space, expertise across an array of luxury goods, and penchant for directly controlling production and distribution.
Rihanna, who boasts more than 70 million followers on Instagram and is expected to release new music some time this year, gives LVMH access to a new demographic.
Her proximity to the luxury group stretches back to at least 2015. After attending shows for Christian Dior, one of Arnault’s most treasured fashion properties, she appeared in “Secret Garden IV,” a campaign and short film shot by Steven Klein inside Versailles.
A year later, she created a range of futuristic sunglasses in collaboration with Dior as part of her brand ambassadorship. Earlier this year, she test drove a pair with her Fenty brand splashed across the temples, dropping a colossal hint about the upcoming project with LVMH.
Rihanna has demonstrated a serious interest in, and influence on, fashion — along with formidable design chops and acute instincts — with her tenure as the creative director of Puma, energizing the German activewear brand with her Fenty by Puma project, and following it up with successful forays into beauty and lingerie — the former with LVMH-controlled Kendo; the latter with California-based TechStyle Fashion Group.
Kendo, which functions as an incubator making products that end up being retailed by LVMH’s Sephora perfumery chain and other outposts, signed on Rihanna in 2016. Her Fenty Beauty products racked up sales north of $100 million in a matter of weeks, and was hailed as a transformative brand, generating revenues of about 500 million euros last year.
For LVMH, the Rihanna line signals a further move outside its comfort zone as it continues to diversify its holdings, having recently invested $2.6 billion in luxury travel operator Belmond Ltd., owner of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train and hotels including the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro.
Rihanna’s talent and beauty have made her a favorite of fashion designers worldwide. The Barbados native has previously modeled for Gucci, Emporio Armani and Balmain.
She made her debut in design in 2013 with British high-street brand River Island, creating a collection of clothing and accessories.