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Rihanna's Show Slayed, Making PUMA Relevant Again

If there’s a new, trending designer, then Rihanna has worn them—and, in doing so, has made an incontestable case for them. Yes, it’s true, Rihanna is almost always being dressed by her BFF-cum-stylist Mel Ottenberg; but unlike the average celebrity, you can tell Rihanna isn’t unconsciously wearing whatever her stylist picked out for her. Mel may have picked out an oversized shearling jacket for her to wear to a surreptitious Nobu date with Leo, but Rihanna will emerge from the temple of miso cod with the jacket lazily draped off her shoulders in such a way that could only be described as stylistically conscious and accomplished.

So it was only a matter of time until the disobedient gal came out with a clothing line of her own. Yesterday was that time; Rihanna, who was named PUMA‘s global brand ambassador for women’s training and the Women’s Creative Director in December 2014, showed her Fenty x PUMA collection at 23 Wall Street last night for New York Fashion Week. The collection may have been made in collaboration with PUMA, but it was clear that the sneaker company had given Riri full reign to do whatever she well pleased, so long as she included the occasional PUMA insignia every once in a track pant. And I’ll be honest: I want most of it.

At first glance, the collection seemed to scream “chill girl at Super Bowl party, feigning interest in football, but really there for the blunts and bacon wraps.” Backstage after the show, Rihanna apparently said of the collection, “If the Addams Family went to the gym, this is what they would wear.” And I see it—I do. But I also see a collection designed for the girl who doesn’t play soccer, but like wishes she did? Because she knows she’d look like really cute in the soccer gear? Sort of like that scene in Clueless, when Cher and Dionne go to gym class in really cute spandex-sweatband getups, but then look appalled when they’re expected to actually move. All of which is to say: the sportswear influences were a-plenty.

Hoodies were manifold, and took many forms. Like the oversized teddy bear-like hoodies that looked less like clothes and more like big, warm hugs—and which will undoubtedly be at the forefront of everyone’s minds for some time. Almost every model was varnished in chokers—though it’d be more accurate to call them detachable turtlenecks. Garments slouched every which way and sparkly garters glistened bright like—you guessed it—diamonds. There were black, Tim-looking boots and stiletto sneakers, as well as multiple hoodies that extended to oversized, Vetements heights. In addition to the very obvious stylish-but-lazy-gym-student motif, there was also a visible medieval influence, evident in the corset details, rosary-style crosses, and pointed-toe shoes. PUMA was stamped on the clothes in Medieval lettering, and shirts laced up at the front in what one might call Renaissance style.

Showing a day after Yeezy’s ambitious and grand-scale show, Rihanna’s collection had a lot riding on it. Yet in true Anti fashion, she delivered. Wale told Vogue.com that his brain was currently enduring “inspiration overload” after Kanye’s and Rihanna’s shows. And Pete Wentz, the perpetual voice of reason and always an authority when it comes to fashion, said it was “inspiring to see someone execute their vision.” Indeed, Pete Wentz. Indeed. It’s worth noting that Rihanna didn’t get too diva on us either; the only reason the show started 15 minutes after the intended time was apparently because Naomi Campbell was running late. And it’s a good thing they waited too—the payoff was well worth it and came in the form of a very intimate kiss between her and Rihanna.


A photo posted by michelgaubert™ (@michelgaubert) on

All in all, this was a successful run for the Fenty x PUMA collaboration, and a triumphant career move for Ri. I smell a Wang x H&M level sellout on the horizon. And I’m sure everyone last night at the show would have smelled it too—if they had taken out their septum rings.

Photography by Sonny Vandevelde.

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