COVID cancelled everything from parties and concerts in 2020. But it wasn’t enough to stop Rihanna throwing the sexiest party of the year.
Only Rihanna could create a fashion show that rivals the Oscars and Met Gala on its sophomore year. After the success of last year’s showcase, Rihanna announced in September that the show was set to return.
The Savage x Fenty Vol.2 show is an immersive experience that is seductive and fascinating. Streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Rihanna celebrated the launch of the brand’s fall ’20 lingerie collection with an action-packed performance.
Opening the show, the S&M singer strutted through a colourful James Turrell inspired tunnel wearing a black bra and thong, fishnet stockings and a chain belt around her waist. Adhering to COVID rules, filming took place in early September at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.
There was no audience in attendance and the show had many sets including the Garden of Eden (a psychedelic jungle), the Black Widow Room and Dear Diary. Everyone was social-distanced 6 feet apart, including the dancers. Paris Goebel’s choreography brings a lively energy to the show despite the lack of an engaging audience.
There were non-stop celebrity cameos, incredible set designs, invigorating choreography and luxurious lingerie. Directed and produced by Rihanna, she upped the ante with stellar performances by Travis Scott, Ella Mai, Bad Bunny, Rosalia, Miguel, Mustard and Roddy Ricch.
Bella Hadid and Cara Delevingne returned to walk the runway alongside the fresh faces of Normani, Lizzo and Laura Harrier. It was a star-studded show from start to finish with unexpected celebrity appearances. Paris Hilton popped-up in a Barbie-esque pink bodysuit paired with Amina Muaddi heels.
The real star of the show is the diverse range of models that strutted on the Fenty runway. It is impossible to discuss the Fenty empire without mentioning inclusivity. This value is core to their popularity and has allowed Rihanna to take modern fashion to a whole new level.
Rather than employing the same skinny, euro-centric with a side of exoticness, white models, the show destroyed boundaries by including models of different sizes, races, ethnicities, ages, gender identities and disabilities. Replacing the white-washed and airbrushed fantasy that Victoria’s Secret prescribed us, her daring display of diversity lingerie pushed the industry in a new and exciting direction.
The hour-long production’s message is that every woman is a fantasy and deserves to feel sexy. Shot through a female lens, we are exposed to less voyeurism than we are used to. Instead, it focusses on women owning their sexuality. At one point, Lizzo, adorned in a royal blue lingerie set and white trainers, danced in front of a mirror. Training her eyes on herself, she seduces herself with her movements. At this moment, she is feeling herself completely. After debuting in 240 countries, the millions of women watching felt invincible.
Adding another broken barrier to the list, more men appeared in this year’s fashion show. Savage x Fenty launched its first men’s collection with Christian Combs. The son of stylish hip-hop legend, Sean “Diddy” Combs, created a luxury capsule. It includes lavender and black patterned robes, silk shorts and boxers, for men of all sizes.
The show received praise on social media for including plus size men in their line-up. Oouizz, one of the male plus-sized models, thanked Rihanna in an Instagram post, “WE MADE HISTORY!” The #SAVAGEXFENTY SHOW Vol. 2 is oozing with inclusivity and I’m so proud to be a part of this!”. The body diversity and positivity conversation often ignore men. Yet, we are all held against unrealistic body standards.
Despite this, Rihanna received online backlash after using a controversial song during the show. Whilst introducing Rico Nasty, a track titled ‘Doom’ by Coucou Chloe was blasted out out of the speakers. The song is a remix that includes a sacred Islamic text known as a Hadith, which discusses Judgement Day and the end of time.
A Hadith is believed to be the words spoken by the Prophet Muhammad. They are considered as important religious texts alongside the Quran. Rihanna apologised to the Muslim community on her Instagram stating:
“I’d like to thank the Muslim community for pointing out a huge oversight that was unintentionally offensive in our Savage x Fenty show, I would more importantly like to apologise to you for this honest, yet careless mistake. We understand that we have hurt many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and I’m incredibly disheartened by this”.
The business mogul continued:
“Moving forward we will make sure nothing like this ever happens again. Thank you for your forgiveness and understanding, Rih.”
The grand finale was a spectacular show with more than 50 dancers across the screen in lingerie. As Travis Scott closed the show, Rihanna stood on stage in a sheer polka-dot blouse and Alexandre Vauthier leather shorts. After everything 2020 has thrown at us, Rihanna knew just how to inject the joy and lust back into our lives.