I walked into the mail room today, expecting to only find a letter or a coupon from Spitz in my box. I was surprised when I found the bright blue slip that indicated I had a package. Having not ordered anything for myself lately, I was buzzing with interest as to what it could be. Maybe I had gotten a care package with my favorite things? Maybe I had forgotten about an Asos.com purchase?
The reality was better: The thick, glossy March edition of Vogue. I quickly unwrapped the dingy plastic around the heavy magazine and gazed upon Rihanna’s face. Ah, yes, the fashion bible had arrived.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Rihanna. I think that she is pretty and talented and makes incredibly catchy music but ultimately is not a great role model. I also often think that her style choices are more than a little off: sweatpants with a bra top does not an outfit make, no matter how incredible the designer heels she adds to the look. However, it appears that I am outnumbered on this front, for if notoriously difficult-to-please Vogue Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour wants her on the cover, then Rihanna must be doing something right.
I happily flipped open the 648-page magazine to look for Rihanna’s pictorial. I was excited to see what they had done with the tall Barbados native who is undeniably a fashion risk taker. I got distracted along the way, admiring and scowling at the advertisements running in the magazine. I was horrified to see an utterly commercial Old Navy ad alongside decadent spreads of Etro prints. I found peace in the images of Vera Wang’s dresses and home collection and in Vionnet’s gauzy fabrics on display. The advertisements alone in a Vogue magazine are enough to stimulate the mind. I had full pages of ones I especially liked covering a section of the wall by my bed in my dorm last year.
I finally arrived on the Rihanna spread. The first image is a beauty shot, close in her face which looks pretty and free of major make up being piled on minus a bright red lip. She wears a one-shouldered top by Saint Laurent (no “Yves” anymore now that Hedi Slimane has taken over) that is bold and fun: it is all white sequins with sequined red lips imposed on top. The opposite page involves more sequins, but this time is a full-body shot. An oversized jersey top with a midriff cutout covers Rihanna’s arms and chest, while loose trousers in chocolate-colored sequins hang off her hips. She looks dead on the camera, but it is not a confident expression. Rihanna instead appears to have soft eyes and relaxed jaw, looking at the reader with something unreadable in her eyes.
The next set of images are very much the Rihanna the world sees in the press. She wears another oversized top, this time a dark jacket with white stitching. Matching shorts go with it, and the whole look is by Alexander Wang, the edgy young designer Rihanna has worn many a time. Opposite to this black and white image is a full color one, yet the Rodarte outfit is muted in all white with a brown plaid button down. A snap back is perched atop Rihanna’s hair, her facial expression like that of a stubborn child. Thus far, I’m not entirely impressed with the styling. It appears they simply adopted her look and made sure to put her in trendy designers.
The article that follows is a profile by British writer and fashion-world standby Plum Sykes. The two go to lunch and then on a shopping spree. Sykes has offered herself up to Rihanna’s whims, trying on outfits that truly only Rihanna could pull off. Rihanna and her entourage deck the writer out in racy Tom Ford high heels and mini dresses. I am insanely jealous that Sykes had the opportunity to go shopping with someone who is so brave in her fashion choices, and the more I read about Rihanna, the more I like her. She proclaims in the interview, “You need to be sassified! You will never be stylish if you don’t take risks.” The comment is at once mature and silly, for Rihanna obviously loves fashion and is quite knowledgeable about it, but approaches it with a joie de vivre that is fabulous.
The article is short but the images are plentiful. The pictorial continues with Rihanna all figged out in battle-ready designs by Alexander McQueen. Her tattoos accent the look and she has an appearance of delicate intensity. Next, Rihanna wears a white cropped wig and a belted Tom Ford suit. Rings adorn all of her fingers. Henna designs grace her hands. Finally, for the last two pages of the pictorial, Vogue works it’s magic and pulls out an embellished bra top dress that features beaded fringe. The final look is a metallic Versace dress with an impossibly short hemline. Dramatic makeup and no jewelry complete the look. Though the silver mesh dress is undeniably sexy and fierce, Rihanna looks more elegant than ever.
I don’t know how she does it, but Rihanna is a fashion chameleon. Vogue didn’t push the limits when dressing her, but they certainly made her look beautiful. The interview is fun and Plum Sykes wrote it well, but the real draw of this magazine is Rihanna in all these vibrant looks.
If this Rihanna feature is any indication, I am going to devour every page of this March Vogue.
Noel Hemphill is a junior ECLS major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WklyNHemphill.