Taraji P. Henson, Marsai Martin and more on the ‘incredible’ experience of Savage X Fenty Vol. 4
Being invited to walk in the Savage X Fenty Vol. 4 show proved an empowering moment for many of its Black celebrity models.
Savage X Fenty Vol. 4, out now on Amazon Prime Video, is as “wild” as Rihanna promised, literally taking place in nature. For those included in the star-studded lineup, it was reportedly also an empowering experience, according to a release to theGrio.
On the show’s red carpet, Rihanna noted she has tried to level up the production each year since launching in 2019. Staged in a forest in Simi Valley, California, Savage X Fenty Vol. 4 featured performances by Burna Boy, Maxwell, Don Toliver, and Anitta. Along with live snakes, Rih’s latest Savage X Fenty lingerie, and the introduction of Savage X Fenty Sport, this year also introduced an exciting cast of new and returning models, many of whom found the experience deeply affirming.
Designed to evoke a “fashion fever dream,” Vol. 4 delivered a sultry, dark, and nature-based aesthetic. Sheer and strappy lingerie and loungewear in black, deep reds, vivid pinks, and a multicolored leopard print in just about every size imaginable kept the wild and seductive themes pulsing throughout the show, punctuated with otherworldly performances in smoky forest settings.
”Black Panther” franchise star Winston Duke astonished in a blue velvet robe and short set amid a tribe-like circle of performers. In another scene, actress Taylour Paige, modeling a black velvet bodysuit and sheer black gloves, was surrounded by scantily-dressed dancers, joining in their choreography. Taraji P. Henson, and one of this year’s most anticipated models, recent Emmy winner Sheryl Lee Ralph, were seductive in futuristic silver catsuits during a scene featuring performers conjoined by a massive braid. And of course, Rihanna, mother of both the brand and show, made a stunning appearance as the show’s proverbial Mother Nature, wearing a pale blue corset evoking gothic Victorian.
Available to shop now on Savage X Fenty and the Amazon Fashion Store, Savage X Fenty’s latest collection plays with textures and cutout silhouettes. The new sportswear line, which is arguably just as sexy as the lingerie, is distinguishable by its everyday wearability. Fall trends such as bodysuits, catsuits, and coordinating gloves are also plentiful in the collection, along with on-trend references to ‘90s fashion.
At the premiere, many of the show’s newest participants dished about what it felt like to be in one of fashion’s most anticipated annual events, from receiving the call from Rihanna to actually appearing in the show. On the red carpet, Henson said when she received an email inviting her to walk in the show, her immediate answer was “F— yeah.”
“I feel like I’ve finally arrived. I’ve been waiting for the call,” she said.
Henson also praised Savage X Fenty for its inclusive ethos.
“For a long time, when you thought fashion, you thought one body type. What I love about Rihanna and her messaging is that beauty is everywhere. Beauty is in all humans, all shapes, and sizes. Representation is very important,” she said.
Hollywood wunderkind, Marsai Martin, said she received the ask to walk shortly after her 18th birthday.
“I was ecstatic from the very beginning. I feel like I had to get mentally prepared from the very start even though it was like almost a month out from when I first found out,” she said, adding, “it was completely incredible.”
During the show, the “Black-ish” star shone in a multicolored leopard print catsuit, paired with dark futuristic hair and makeup. Speaking on the significance of the moment, Martin said the experience of getting to work with someone she admires as much as Rihanna was amazing.
“Even looking up to someone like her that is an amazing Black woman that is supporting and inspiring other Black women, it’s amazing,” she said. “While being completely universal at the same time and touching on everybody all around the world; it’s an amazing thing to see and an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Actress Aida Osman, one of the co-stars of Issa Rae’s latest comedy for HBO, “Rap Sh!t,” said she was so excited she hadn’t slept since she got the offer.
“It’s my first modeling thing for real, which is crazy to even say, that the first thing I’m modeling for is the woman, like the woman in the world, the best woman in the world,” she said, adding, “I still don’t know how it happened. I decided one morning to check my email for the first time in weeks and it was worth it.”
Osman modeled a hot pink and black sheer set from Savage X Fenty Sport during the show, and noted that the level of inclusivity in both the brand and showcase is not only rare but personally validating.
“I would be fooling myself if I said I would be modeling somewhere else. Like if Rihanna didn’t exist, they wouldn’t be like ‘pansexual nonbinary Muslim girl from Nebraska—here’s her shot,’” she said. “Like, that wouldn’t f— happen unless Rihanna existed. I’m honored that I get to be my full self and show up.”
Inclusive sizing and representation have long been hallmarks of the Savage X Fenty brand, which offers bra sizes ranging from 30 – 46 in band size and A – H in cups (up to 46DDD/42H). The brand also offers gender-inclusive underwear, sleepwear, loungewear, and now sportswear ranging from XS – 4X/XS – XXXXL.
Nevertheless, drag queen Kornbread Jeté, a competitor on season 14 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” admitted she was still nervous about how pieces in the line would fit after accepting the offer to walk in the show, adding that it was shocking to have everything fit the way it was supposed to.
“Everything fit. It made me feel ten times more comfortable here,” she said. “When I can wear the same thing as somebody that’s half my size and it fits me perfectly, just like it fits them, then we’re good; we’re on the same book. The brand makes us all feel inclusive. That makes anybody feel confident and definitely me.”
As has become its custom, the show was a hot menagerie of Rihanna’s latest inspirations. Showcasing the bold and daring aesthetic with which Savage X Fenty has become synonymous, its latest presentation elevated the effect through new fashion motifs brought to life in a surreal and delightfully nightmarish way—beating this year’s show will be a challenge perhaps only Rihanna can conquer.
For social media personality, actor, and model Rickey Thompson, being a part of the show was the fulfillment of a dream.
“It just feels so great that Rihanna did this. She is allowing everybody to look sexy and that’s something that we were missing,” he said. “Everybody can look good and sexy, and that’s what we need.”
Kay Wicker is a lifestyle writer for theGrio covering health, wellness, travel, beauty, fashion, and the myriad ways Black people live and enjoy their lives. She has previously created content for magazines, newspapers, and digital brands.
TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. TheGrio’s Black Podcast Network is free too. Download theGrio mobile apps today! Listen to ‘Writing Black’ with Maiysha Kai.