( Vogue.com )
Every fashion show’s focus is what happens on the runway—unless Rihanna happens to be in the audience. As a musician, beauty founder, creative director, and muse, the star has experienced the fashion industry from multiple perspectives. Still, she indulges her inner fan when it’s time to take in the collections. The designers whose shows she frequents are friends, colleagues, and fellow artists whose creations have found their way into her wardrobe. As such, she and her stylist Jahleel Weaver approach her front row appearances thoughtfully, finding ways to merge her distinctive look with the mood of each brand.
The nexus point between Rihanna’s POV and fashion’s biggest designers has led to boundary-breaking style moments. Currently expecting her first child with her boyfriend A$AP Rocky, Rihanna has become the toast of the fall 2022 season thanks to the belly-baring maternity looks she’s worn at shows like Gucci and Dior. Few could strut through the streets of Paris in nothing but a thong and a transparent tulle dress, but such daring is what makes Rihanna unique. When Maria Grazia Chiuri debuted the party frock in the brand’s pre-fall Lookbook, the designer paired it with bike shorts and combat boots. Rihanna amped up the sex appeal by adding Fenty lingerie, patent leather boots, and layers of rockstar-worthy necklaces from Chrome Hearts.
Rihanna’s personal approach to runway pieces has been a key element of her red carpet strategy, but she goes all out during fashion week. Her front-row highlight reel reads like a designer who’s who, and the chameleonic way she’s able to adapt her style to each aesthetic is admirable. For Raf Simons’s refined Dior spring 2016 show, she transformed into a society doyenne in a pastel opera coat and gloves, while an early trip to Gareth Pugh in 2010 meant a choppy blond pixie cut and see-through striped LBD. Givenchy’s fall 2014 required a borrowed-from-the-boys blazer from Riccardo Tisci worn with a backward baseball cap. A year later, she was all business at Altuzarra in a suit with a plunging neckline that reflected her status as a budding music mogul. Each look is entirely different, but she imbues them with the same alluring swagger.
That spark of personality is evident even during Rihanna’s earliest trips to fashion week. Back in 2005, when “Pon de Replay” was hitting the airwaves, she attended the afterparty for Tommy Hilfiger’s 20th-anniversary collection alongside mentor Jay-Z, then headed to her very first show a day later. The bold playfulness of Baby Phat spring 2006, where models sported faux hawks and diamond grillz, stuck with the star. She’d later reference the event when discussing the first events for her Fenty x Puma collaboration then go on to purchase the entirety of fashion historian Gabriel Held’s Baby Phat archives in 2019. Compared to her current outfits, the bronze sequin embellished dress she wore to take in Kimora Lee Simmons’s collection is subdued, but in its girlish design, one can already see the beginnings of a style icon.