Rihanna is easily one of the most iconic, influential and trend setting celebs in the game. So much so that her star power has only skyrocketed since she took a hiatus from music to focus on other creative endeavors, a risky move that often doesn’t pay off for less prolific artists.
But as the Rihanna Navy (and even Chris Brown) continue to leave messages in her comments section asking her to finally drop a new album, the founder of the quickly expanding Fenty empire is in no rush to return the studio. Instead she has her eyes set on birthing her newest baby, a groundbreaking luxury fashion line with LVHM that already has fans and industry insiders clamoring for a first look.
This week the 31-year-old Barbados-born songstress made time to sit down with a New York Times writer in London, where she now lives, and dropped some gems about her career, what drives her and her plans to disrupt the fashion industry without apology.
The interview, albeit intriguing, was also quite long. But no worries, below we’ve compiled the top 5 takeaways.
She had no idea she was making history
There has been a lot of press about Rihanna’s trailblazing as the first Black woman in charge of a major luxury house in Paris. But fans would be surprised to know that she had no idea that was the case until Fenty Corp.’s junior creative director, Jahleel Weaver pointed it out months into the endeavor.
“I didn’t even know that until months into our relationship, when Jahleel brought it to my attention,” she confesses. “And I’m like, ‘Are you sure about that? Did you do your research? ’Cause I don’t wanna state a claim that’s [expletive].’ Because I still couldn’t believe it. It made me feel proud.”
When the subject of Blackness in general comes up, as usual Rihanna refuses to see it as a handicap or shy away from her culture just to get ahead. But she also makes it a point not to exploit it either.
"You’re going to be Black wherever you go. And I don’t know if it’s unfortunate or fortunate, because I love being Black. So, sorry for those who don’t like it — that’s the first thing you see before you even hear my voice." – @rihanna
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) May 20, 2019
“You’re going to be black wherever you go. And I don’t know if it’s unfortunate or fortunate, because I love being Black,” she explains. “So, sorry for those who don’t like it — that’s the first thing you see before you even hear my voice. There are also other factors: I’m young. I’m new to the family. I’m a woman. Those factors do come into play, but I will not apologize for them, and I will not back down from being a woman, from being black, from having an opinion.”
She doesn’t fear failure.. or anything really
It’s been said time and time again that most people who ascend to greatness have to make peace with the concept of failure, and it appears that RiRi is definitely one of those people.
“You know what’s crazy, I have a tattoo that’s written backward so I can read it in the mirror: ‘Never a failure. Always a lesson,'” she reveals. “How you gonna learn without making mistakes? Did you believe your mom when she said, ‘Don’t touch the iron’? You had to touch it, right? You had to get burned.”
When asked what she’s afraid of she responds, “I am afraid of being afraid, because I know that means it’s wrong. If I feel fear, that means it’s not right.”
i feel truly blessed to live in a time where i get to watch Rihanna exist
— Amber Scholl (@AmberScholl) May 21, 2019
“But I did get fear one time in my life,” she adds. “I can’t remember exactly about what: I remember my mom saying, like, “I see something in your eyes I’ve never seen before.” And I was like, “What?” And she was like, “Fear.” And I started crying. So any time I get that anxiety feeling, I literally try to shove it right back down to nothing.”
Her new line is gender bending and size inclusive
By now we all know that being equal parts edgy and inclusive is a no brainer when it comes to anything associated with the Fenty brand. So it should come as no surprise that pushing the envelope is what she plans to do with her new fashion empire which will feature feminine clothes executed in masculine silhouettes and will go up to an American size 14 which is unheard of for most luxury fashion houses.
“I use myself as the muse,” said Rihanna. “It’s sweatpants with pearls, or a masculine denim jacket with a corset. I feel like we live in a world where people are embracing every bit of who they are. Look at Jaden Smith, Childish Gambino. They dare you to tell them not to.”
She also explains how letting her body become curvier in recent years has influenced how she designed this collection.
“It just changed how I dress in terms of my proportions. You wear what looks good on you and that’s it. I’m thick and curvy right now, and so if I can’t wear my own stuff then, I mean, that’s not gonna work, right?”
Rihanna is the first Black woman to run a major luxury fashion house.
“I’m thick and curvy right now, and so if I can’t wear my own stuff then, I mean, that’s not gonna work, right? And my size is not the biggest size. It’s actually closer to the smallest size we have.” pic.twitter.com/LTsfDSGRov
— Makeup For WOC (@MakeupForWOC) May 20, 2019
Growing up she wanted to be darker
Black female singers in America are sometimes called out for their light skinned privilege, given that most of the women at the top of the charts in this country could easily pass the infamous “brown paper bag test.” So it may surprise some to know that the Bajan superstar not only doesn’t subscribe to that thinking, growing up she actually wanted to be darker, a desire that fueled her to create the 40 shades of foundation that put Fenty on the map.
“In my own household, my father is half black, half white. My mom is black from South America. I was seeing diversity. That’s all I knew. Growing up, I wanted to be darker, always,” she explains.
Why do I feel like Rihanna is my sister and everything happening for her right now is just so pic.twitter.com/nQ0UD8f6rs
— Kim J (@therealkimj) May 20, 2019
“So, making makeup, it wasn’t even a thing I had to think about. I didn’t even really know how bad it was, the void in the market for dark foundation, because all I’d seen was black women put makeup on. I don’t even think 40 shades is enough! And so I added 10 more recently, and we’re not gonna stop there.”
Money isn’t what drives her or her collection
Even though Rihanna’s name is synonymous with glamour and songs like “B–tch Betta Have My Money” at this point in her career money isn’t what motivates her to do any of the amazing things she’s accomplished recently.
“I never thought I’d make this much money, so a number is not going to stop me from working. I’m not being driven by money right now,” she admits. “Money is happening along the way, but I’m working out of what I love to do, what I’m passionate about. Work will change when my life changes in the future but an amount of money is not going to stop that.”
When pushed to share what money does mean to her she concludes the interview by responding, “The money means that I can take care of my family. The money means that I can facilitate the businesses that I want to. I can create jobs for other people. My money is not for me; it’s always the thought that I can help someone else or, in the future, for if I have kids.
“The world can really make you believe that the wrong things are priority, and it makes you really miss the core of life, what it means to be alive,” she continued. “It could literally be walking outside in the sun. That makes me happy. Like going to the grocery store — you know, there’s a cute little Jamaican market near where I live right now.”
so excited to be on @tmagazine’s first digital cover!! here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come from @FentyOfficial?? Written by @JeremyOHarris, photographed by Kristin Lee Moolman,
makeup: Lauren Parsons, hair: @yusefhairnyc, manicure: @JennyLongworth, set design: Andrew Tomlinson pic.twitter.com/ukNhvfYHY8
— Rihanna (@rihanna) May 20, 2019