Rihanna strolled into The Webster in New York City to celebrate her new Fenty collection at 9 p.m., some two hours after the cocktail party at the boutique had begun and just as it was drawing to a close.
Fortunately she was chatty with the press, who stood around for said two hours for their five-minute interviews with the multihyphenate superstar about her digitally driven Fenty collection.
Fenty’s new limited-edition collection of clothing and fashion accessories is having its U.S. debut at The Webster at 29 Greene Street, starting today. The Webster is the first store in the world to carry the collection on a temporary basis through June 30. It was introduced last month in Paris at an art gallery, and is available at Fenty.com.
Asked what made her decide to launch at The Webster, Rihanna told WWD, “I am a huge customer of The Webster. When I ask myself, ‘Where would I shop?’ That’s where I want my stuff to be. There’s just this really special vibe here. It’s small and intimate and you can see everything. You always feel you can find something exciting.
“When I come to The Webster, I know I’m going to spend money,” she continued. “You know you’re going to find something new and exciting. That’s the experience I want my customers to have. Not just physically and online — every release, I want them to feel excited.”
Among Tuesday night’s guests were Jordan Barrett, Kitty Cash, Char Defrancesco, Imaan Hammam, Stella Lucia, Selah Marley, Renell Medrano, Dascha Polanco, Akeem Rasool, Ellen Rosa and Clark Sabbat.
Graphic-heavy and political T-shirts; body-hugging dresses created from knit, satin and jersey; sexy, strappy sandals; white denim jeans; eyewear; bangles; beaded earrings; belly chains, and roped ear cuffs were positioned throughout the two levels of the six-story multibrand retailer. The “see-now-wear-now” collection is a mix of Season 1 and Season 2, which was being unveiled at 1 p.m. today at The Webster. (Season 1 was available at the store opening at 11 a.m.) Limited in availability, the focus is on investment pieces and those that can be mixed and matched over time to build a wardrobe.
Casual in oversize fits, some of the T-shirts champion the immigrant experience, and visualize artistic director and chief executive officer Rihanna’s birthplace of Barbados and another says “No More Music.” Among the pieces, jewelry retails from $190 to $450; apparel is $230 to $810, shoes are $560 to $700, and eyewear goes from $420 to $500.
The 31-year-old Rihanna made history this spring by being the first woman to create a brand for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the first woman of color to sit atop an LVMH maison and the first new house created by the group since Christian Lacroix in 1987.
The strategy behind Fenty is to have “drops” several times a year, at unspecified times, surprising the customer.
“I get bored easily,” said Rihanna, wearing a hot pink, body-hugging minidress. “I’m the muse of my collection. They want to get excited, they don’t want to know when things are coming out. They don’t want to wait for it to come. They see it, they love it, they want it. You don’t want to tease people. When I’m ready for them to find out about the collection, that’s when they know about it. And when it’s done, it’s done. And that’s the unique thing about it. Once it’s done, we move on to the next thing, the next drop,” she said.
Would she ever consider selling at a major retailer like Barneys or Bloomingdale’s on a more prescribed schedule?
“You never know. Right now we’re teaming with little boutiques like The Webster,” she said.
Turning to her collection, Rihanna explained her inspiration for Season 2, which highlights the female form with conviction, is travel-friendly, and features printed summer dresses, corseted jackets and colorful knitwear.
“I get inspired by everything really: different textures, different smells, different cultures. I wanted something really, really vibrant and classic,” Rihanna said.
For Season 2, she used a lot of classic fabrics, including knits, jerseys and satins, and wanted the collection to be comfortable enough to wear day to night. She also wanted it to travel well. Everything can be mixed and matched together, with the different silhouettes and colors. “You can take the same shoes and accessories and you can wear them with every piece,” she said.
Rihanna said she’s enjoying the experience of working with LVMH, which also does her Fenty Beauty line in partnership with LVMH incubator Kendo.
“It’s incredible. I have a brand new playground. You get to play in a bigger sandbox and a more serious sandbox. It’s still fun, I still get to express myself creatively, but it’s at a whole new level You respect it in a different way almost. It’s just this incredible opportunity to make a mark while making history at the same time,” she said.
Becoming a fashion designer wasn’t such a far-fetched idea for the singer, who has always enjoyed fashion and has dabbled with numerous collaborations before striking out with her own label. “I’ve always been in love with fashion and style and daring pieces, buying something crazy and trying to figure it out. There’s this kind of decoding thought process that happens with me when I’m shopping and dressing, so it was only right that I propelled myself into creating things from scratch. I started small and I started collaborating and I wanted to not only get my feet wet and learn, but also have the credibility as a fashion designer before I stepped up with something on my own.”
Finally, she talked about how she plans to build the “inclusive” brand and bring more people into the fold. “The collections are all so versatile. They’re also meant to wear and work together. Each one is so different than the next. That’s just who I am. I’m very moody when it comes to my style. One day I can be all tomboy and one day I can be super-girly. I’m just being selfish and making my wardrobe what I want it to be, and as colorful as I want it to be. All women are multifaceted in that way.”
Watch: Look Back at Rihanna’s Career in Fashion
In discussing the pop-up, Laure Hériard-Dubreuil, founder and creative director of The Webster, said that the first two floors of the boutique are devoted to Fenty. Aside from fenty.com, the collection is currently exclusive to The Webster, and whether they get another drop down the road is to be determined. She said they’ll have to see how it sells. She described the clothes as “very empowering, feminine and different.”
Expected bestsellers are the T-shirts, tailored items, denim and sunglasses.
The Webster, which has five full-price locations — two in Miami, and one each in Houston, Costa Mesa, Calif., and New York, plans to open another store in West Hollywood, Calif., at the end of the year.
Véronique Gebel, managing director of Fenty, said of her choice of The Webster: “We wanted to create an intimate relationship with our customer and not to be lost in a department store.“
“What the Webster is doing is, there is pleasure, there is fun, there is quality, but above all, they know how to present the garments differently,” she said. She explained that with Fenty, you don’t wear it in a specific way. She said each person will wear it differently. “We’re not trying to create one brand, one woman. It’s not a total look, it is you are what you are. People wear the clothes differently. It’s the way woman and men are dressing right now. It’s more what you feel when you wake up in the morning,” she said.
The collection is made in Italy, France and Portugal. Rihanna designs everything out of France. Already available online in the U.S. and Europe, on Wednesday, the company is launching Fenty.com in Canada.
In addition to her numerous roles at Fenty, Rihanna photographed images revealing how the fashion pieces come to life on the body, while security camera footage observed the creative process behind the scenes.