As well as being a multi-platinum selling singer with 14 number ones, a budding actress and a modern-day style icon – who can forget the Met Gala when she came dressed as the Pope? – Rihanna is a savvy entrepreneur. She’s the creator of the astonishingly successful make-up line, Fenty Beauty, and the lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty. Conclusion: she’s the ultimate multi-hyphenate. Now, she’s adding another career to her already bulging CV, that of creative director of her own fashion brand. According to WWD, Rihanna is in talks with LVMH, the luxury conglomerate which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy, over a deal reportedly worth $10 million.
So why has it taken a punt on Rihanna – a superstar, albeit one with no formal design training? Established designer names within the LVMH portfolio have reportedly expressed interests in having their own brand but such wishes have not yet materialised, which only adds to the intrigue. Meanwhile, unemployed designers such as Alber Elbaz and Peter Copping are without a house to helm.
Rihanna Gathered A True Badgal Crew For Her Savage x Fenty Lingerie Show
But Rihanna is no risky investment for LVMH. A celebrity in no need of a surname, Rihanna — with over 67 million Instagram followers — is a global household name, more instantly recognisable than any heritage fashion label. That most eight-year-olds will know at least one of her songs is especially relevant — the eight-year-olds of today will become tomorrow’s luxury consumers. Where luxury brands are struggling to find relevance among a younger, less label-loyal audience, Rihanna guarantees it.
LVMH became aware of her unique selling power in 2017 when Fenty Beauty (owned by LVMH’s beauty incubator Kendo) launched. Amongst a circus of media appearances in London and New York to promote the line, Rihanna ensured $72 million of product flew off the shelves within a month of launch. A walking, talking, self-promoting advertising campaign, Rihanna’s fans are 3.7 times more likely to buy her products than those of other celebrities, according to research conducted by marketing consultancy firm NPD in 2016. No doubt LVMH chiefs will be hoping she sprinkles her Midas touch over her fashion label — and group revenues, which totalled €42.6 billion in 2017.
Rihanna’s appeal lies in the fact that it is universal. Her inclusive attitude towards both size and skin tone have won her an army of new female fans: Fenty Beauty launched with over 40 shades of foundation, the most extensive offering ever, prompting widespread discussions about the lack of diversity in the industry. It was a similar story with Savage X Fenty, which was unveiled during New York Fashion Week on a varied cast of real women. Central to the lingerie line is its offering of multiple shades of “nude” — and sizes go up to XXXL.
Crucially, her style also shifts. @Badgalriri is as comfortable in a slinky little slip dress with strappy sandals as she is in a big baggy mannish suit or a sweatshirt and sneakers. That element of relatability sells: when images emerged of her celebrating her 30th birthday in a hot pink Saint Laurent dress, it promptly sold out worldwide. Conversely, when she wore a Gucci balaclava to Coachella, it caused a 19 per cent search spike for balaclavas online.
Exactly what the clothes will look like remains to be seen. But it’s likely the offering will be extensive — there will be something for all kinds of woman, no matter their shape, size or racial heritage. Cues from her own wardrobe suggest there will be an abundance of ripped denim in a range of cuts and washes and a fit to flatter everyone. Functional T-shirts at an entry level price point could sit alongside more expensive oversized jackets and suits. Having debuted a line of sunglasses in January – a metallic face-framing style with ‘Fenty’ carved on the arm – it’s to be expected that there will be a plethora of lower-priced accessories, too, with caps and cute bags that her Gen Z and Gen X following can buy into.
The brand — expected to take the name Fenty, which is the Bajan singer’s surname — will be the first the French conglomerate has created since Christian Lacroix in 1987. (Lacroix was later sold, in 2005.) Due to the huge costs involved in setting up a new brand, conglomerates like LVMH instead prefer to buy or invest in smaller fashion houses and rapidly expand them.