Rihanna is more than a Pop star; she is an icon that turns whatever she touches into not gold, but diamonds, that shine bright. Sometimes that can be literally, like when she wore a Swarovski crystal gown, or figuratively, when she makes brands or trends popular. She has released eight studio albums, sold over 200 million records, pursued countless fashion adventures, and started her very own makeup company: Fenty Beauty. Is there anything she can’t do?
Rihanna has amounted herself to undeniable greatness within the last 13 years. Not only musically, but across a broad range of excellence, that weaves in fashion, makeup, clothing, and female empowerment. Who would’ve predicted the star’s wide amount of achievement based off of her first single “Pon de Replay”? And yet, here she is, sitting upon a throne years later, with multiple awards and accomplishments to add to her already striking resume.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty was a different woman in 2005, or at least, she seemed to be. She had burst onto the scene with her first album, Music of The Sun, after impressing Def Jam Records’ president and C.E.O. Jay-Z in an audition at just 16. She had a “good girl” image that consisted of a shy smile, modest clothing, and flirtatious lyrics. “I wasn’t 100 percent or even 75 percent in control of my image or my sound,” Rih revealed, “I said, ‘If you guys keep this perfect image of me, people will never notice me.’” Growing up in Bridgetown, Barbados, she had a different vision for herself, and she wanted to make it a reality. In 2007, things changed for the Pop star, who decided to take control of her look and attitude with her third work: Good Girl Gone Bad.
This release felt more honest to RiRi, whose look was not modest but daring, and whose voice was not a whisper, but instead a roar. Her authenticity showed in the sales; people were loving it. Good Girl Gone Bad was responsible for putting out the song that eventually introduced the world to Rihanna: “Umbrella.” Featuring rapper Jay-Z, it was an international success, hitting #1 in multiple countries, including the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. “I really got rebellious and just did everything the way I wanted to do it,” she said of her new look and album, “…I just want[ed] to have a little more fun with my music and be a little more experimental in terms of my image and my sound.”
Fast forward to nine years after her confident proclamation, to the Grammy-nominated album, Anti (2016). It’s her most recent work, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200; her single “Work,” featuring Canadian rapper Drake shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well. “Needed Me” made it into the Top 10 and stood on the charts for 42 weeks, breaking her previous record of a 41-week streak with “We Found Love.”
After Anti, Ms. Fenty began to set her mind on other goals that would later be deemed groundbreaking. Her fans (The Rihanna Navy), and the rest of the world had begun to regard her as a style inspiration. She took huge wardrobe risks that often paid off, like at the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards. On the red carpet, she emerged wearing nothing but a sheer dress covered in 230,000 Swarovski crystals, holding a pink Pologeorgis fur stole as her sole coverage and accessory. It was only fitting that she would show up wearing something so grandiose; she was accepting the 2014 Fashion Icon Award after all! In a touching speech, she stood on stage, blinding the audience with her crystals as she proclaimed, “Growing up I didn’t have a lot of access to fashion. But as far as I could remember, fashion has always been my defense mechanism. Even as a child I remember thinking, ‘SHE CAN BEAT ME, BUT SHE CANNOT BEAT MY OUTFIT.’”
The shocking outfit choices certainly didn’t stop there. A year later at the 2015 Met Gala, Rih had jaws dropping to the floor again. She waltzed down the red carpet in a stop-what-you’re-doing-and-look ensemble that was an imperial yellow, fur-trimmed gown, trailing several feet behind her. It was embroidered with carefully detailed flowers, and the whole look was completed with a gold headdress, making her look like absolute royalty. She was one of the few celebrities that night to give a Chinese fashion designer credit where it was due. The theme for the Met Gala that year was “China: Through The Looking Glass,” but many celebrities chose to go with Western designers who created Chinese inspirations. Rihanna went straight to the source, attaining her dress from Chinese designer Guo Pei, who had taken two years to handcraft it.
Due to her extreme influence, Rih finally decided to take her first professional dive into the fashion world in 2011. She teamed up with Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans to create a line of denim, basic T-Shirts, and lingerie. Two years later, she designed a High Street Collection line for River Island, a company with hundreds of stores in the U.K. The clothes were snatched off of the racks almost immediately, allowing companies to realize that having Rihanna’s name on anything would increase sales.
In 2015, before her extravagant Met Gala appearance, Rih was introduced as Dior’s first black spokesperson. She became the face of the Secret Garden campaign for that year among other actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman. RiRi felt honored to collaborate with the brand,
“IT IS SUCH A BIG DEAL FOR ME, FOR MY CULTURE, FOR A LOT OF YOUNG GIRLS OF ANY COLOR. I THINK, TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED BY DIOR IS JUST… IT MEANS A LOT AS A WOMAN TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL, AND ELEGANT, AND TIMELESS.”
A year later, Rihanna proceeded to work harder at her new passion. She had previously been announced as Puma’s creative director, and put out several sell-out shoe collections, but her most notable came out in 2016. The Trainer shoe by Fenty was her first original design created for Puma, followed by her creeper-style trainers that sold out online in 35 minutes. Undeniably the comfy shoes of the summer, her fur Puma pool slides sold out relatively everywhere as well. It was determined that Rih was able to raise Puma’s sales by 7.3%, providing proof that her touch on anything is nearly magical.
That same year, she joined forces with Dior again, announcing a line of posh sunglasses titled “Rihanna” that became trendy. She continued to excite fans by broadening her reach to even socks! She paired with Stance socks to create 19 different styles that ranged from sheer sexy to cute ankle socks. She busied her schedule even more when she took her valued opinion to fragrances as well. She has sold nine other perfume lines before, but it was in 2016 that she released “RiRi,” which became her most successful scent to date.
2017 is where real barriers were broken for the Pop star turned fashion mogul. She started off the year bold with a jewelry line in collaboration with Swiss jeweler Chopard, that featured bold, chunky and colorful designs that served as high-end statement pieces. However, RiRi’s biggest triumph was yet to come… September 8th Fenty Beauty was finally revealed to the world, after many rumors and teasers. It arrived boasting 40 shades of foundation, countless highlighter options like the metallic “Trophy Wife,” adorably packaged blotting papers, and of course, lipsticks and lip glosses galore.
In October, it was reported that her Fenty Beauty line had summed up a total of $72 million sales in just one month. Beauty brands anxiously tried to catch up by releasing their own version of darker foundation shades months after, but to no avail. Rihanna had done it first. TIME announced that Fenty Beauty had earned a spot on their “25 Best Inventions of 2017” list, and with great reason. Rih had created makeup that could work on any skin tone, and on any face, centering her whole brand around inclusion. With the slogan “Beauty for All,” and with models like Duckie Thot leading the campaign, it’s clear that she designed this line for anyone and everyone. “It was…important that every woman felt included in this brand. We are all so different, with our own unique skin tones, so we started with the 40 foundation shades out the gate,” Rihanna gushed,
“SOME [WOMEN] ARE FINDING THEIR SHADE OF FOUNDATION FOR THE FIRST TIME, GETTING EMOTIONAL AT THE COUNTER. THAT’S SOMETHING I WILL NEVER GET OVER.”
At the end of 2017, she was listed as the most powerful celebrity fashion influencer in Lyst’s 2017 Year in Fashion report. They discovered that Rih had increased searches and sales of multiple brands after being spotted wearing or advertising them; brands like Puma, Off-White, Gucci, and Molly Goddard.
RiRi has been busy the past two years with her fashion undertakings for sure, but she’s only about to get busier. She has continued to work on her beauty line well into this year, launching a new summer collection in April titled, “Beach, Please!” Her second project that has her engaged is surprisingly, acting! She has starred in films before; fans will recall her comedic role as herself in This Is the End in 2013, as well as a part in Battleship (2012). Last year she played the role of Bubble in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which also featured big names in Hollywood like Cara Delevingne, Ethan Hawke, and Dane DeHaan. This June she’s set to play the role of Nine Ball in Ocean’s 8, alongside talented actresses/actors Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and others.
It’s also expected that Rihanna will be dropping new music soon, and she has confirmed herself that she’s starting a lingerie line called “Savage x Fenty” that will release later this year! Recently, she was awarded a place on TIME’s “100 Most Influential People of 2018” list, causing her fans to become ecstatic with approval & support. Whatever RiRi decides to pursue next, her Navy will surely back her, as long as she puts in work, work, work!
By Selene Rivera