The show — “Savage x Fenty Show Vol. 4” — lands on Prime Video on Wednesday and includes a cast of top models, musicians and a few celebrity cameos.
But it seems that not even Rihanna can live up to the hype of Rihanna these days.
Previews and other leaks of the show revealed Johnny Depp as the celebrity face of the event, which quickly sparked a backlash across social media. Savage X did not respond to requests for comment as to why the brand decided to use the star. What is known is that Depp was recently at the center of a very high-profile defamation lawsuit involving claims from ex-wife Amanda Heard that the movie star had physically assaulted her, with Depp being awarded $10 million in damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Rihanna is also a domestic violence survivor.
The connection between Rihanna and Depp (and why the megastar chose to cast Depp, when she could have worked with nearly anyone) is unclear. As for the brand — what impact Depp will have on its menswear division is yet to be seen.
But he already has helped at least one brand. Depp has been the face of the fragrance Dior Sauvage since 2015. Despite the controversy surrounding him over the last year, the actor signed a multi-year contract this past summer to continue the deal with Dior. And, during and after the Heard trial, Dior Sauvage was the best-selling fragrance of the summer, according to market research firm The NPD Group.
It could be that Rihanna is hoping for the same halo-like effect for her brand. Even if the brand is receiving negative attention, at least consumers are talking about it or watching the show.
Yet Depp’s presence in the production is fleeting. Halfway through, the movie star appears at a distance behind a tree before the camera zooms in with a spotlight to reveal it’s him. Dressed in mossy green-colored Savage X Fenty men’s sleepwear, Depps walks through what looks like a mystical forest, with dancers in the background for about 30 seconds, displaying the wares with a half smile before stopping at another tree to hug it. And then he is gone.
As for the entire 40-minute fashion show, it would be better described as a 40-minute music video with a few digital product presentation scenes thrown in to highlight the looks.
None of it feels like a typical fashion show in the sense of models sporting looks from the brand as they strut down a runway. Rihanna, of course, can be credited with reinventing many long-held norms, including what a fashion show should look like in the case of the lingerie world. And at a good time too, as many consumers are waiting for lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret to release its updated fashion show.
However, Rihanna’s fashion show does have a few elements that stay true to the brand’s DNA, such as a diverse cast of performances with various body types across different ethnic, gender and age groups. There’s also Rihanna’s unapologetic take on sexuality. A few notable alumni reappearances include models Joan Smalls and Irina Shayk.
The show opens with a cartoon animation of the star in all her bare-foot glory, sans clothes. Rihanna’s long hair is used to shield her lady parts. The cartoons are later used throughout the show as sort of place cards to help separate different segments.
The first glimpse of the non-cartoon world appears in what looks like an enchanted forest with trees, life-sized mushrooms and lots of deep hues, such as hunter green, violet purple, magenta, gold and galaxy blue. About two minutes in Rihanna appears in Savage X Fenty lingerie, dancing to the beats of another musician. The dancers around her are carefully choreographed to follow her lead.
Throughout the entire show, in fact, there are several dance sequences (just without Rihanna), many of them overtly sexualized, including an all-male set. There is also Spanish music sung by Anitta (she sings in both Spanish and English), various outfit changes, lots of booty shots, plush fabrics and bodysuits, a girl swearing at the camera and a yoga set, perhaps as a reminder that Savage X Fenty recently expanded to include sportswear.
Later on, viewers are transported to what can only be described as a luminescent diamond-like cartoon castle with sharp daggers protruding to the sky. Models walk uniformly around the structure in leopard-print pieces and glittery eye makeup.
Close-up product shots, revealing detailing, are scattered throughout. There is also a segment that looks a lot like a typical fashion presentation — where models stand in the clothing and have spectators walk around them — except in digital format, reinforcing the point: that it’s a marketing tool.
The winds down in another alternate fantasy-like dream world. Except this time one that looks like a deserted beach with mountains and flying fireballs in the background, with satin-like materials the dominant fashion trend. And then the show is over just as fast as it started, in mid-dance sequence.