Rihanna Shares Her Secret to Being Sexy and The Inspiration Behind The Next Savage x Fenty Show

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From the street, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles is all glass and glitz. A symmetrical jumble of reflective towers, its postmodern silhouette juts from the downtown skyline like a giant, mirrored fist. It looks exactly the same from every angle and side. It’s nearly impossible to find the way in.

Designed by John C. Portman Jr. in the mid-1970s, the building’s interiors are just as intriguing— an undulating maze of terraced walkways, spiral staircases, and circular catwalks that rise Blade Runner-like over geometric reflecting pools in a massive central lobby. Somewhere up above, there are also cavernous banquet halls, a rooftop swimming pool, and a helipad. It’s disorienting and captivating; very MC Escher retro-futuristic.

And also, it’s the backdrop for Rihanna’s third installment of the Savage x Fenty show, which premieres September 24 on Amazon Prime. “The inspiration really came from this venue,” Rihanna explains to a group of reporters who have gathered at the hotel one weekend in late August after multiple temperature checks and Covid tests. She’s between shots and has changed into a canary yellow sequined mini dress—not part of the collection—to chat with us on a fake red carpet that’s been set up in a sectioned off hallway. “When I saw this place, I got so excited about what we could do here. It just made me get inspired and creative. We’re using the entire space—inside, outside, rooftop, helipad,” she says. “The beauty of the space is so intense that we didn’t want to hide anything.”

Erykah Badu
Kevin Mazur
Irina Shayk
Irina Shayk
Kevin Mazur

“Not hiding anything” could very well be the theme of the collection, which will be available through Amazon as well. Not just because the collection features crotchless panties, body-skimming chainmail, and a snakeskin catsuit (which Rih winkingly calls her three “naughty-naughty” favorites), but because, much like in the previous shows, there’s a huge emphasis on inclusivity—or as Rihanna puts it, showing off “the different bodies that are in these pieces and bring it all to life.” Alongside the usual trove of supermodels (Irina Shayk, Joan Smalls, Behanti Prinsloo, Soo Joo Park) there are performances by Nas, Daddy Yankee, Ricky Martin, and Jade Novah. Erykah Badu walks the show, as does actress Jojo T. Gibbs, artist Princess Gollum, drag performer Gottmik, and dancer Leiomy. And there are men, too—Lucky Blue Smith, Troye Sivan, Jeremy Pope, Nyjah Huston.“Men of all different sizes, different races. I think men have been left behind in terms of inclusion and curves,” Rihanna explains.

Rihanna says she is more passionate about inclusivity now than ever. After every show she asks herself who she may have left out, and who else she could include in the next round. She wants everyone to feel sexy and important. “I’m always rooting for the underdog, and there’s always someone left to represent. Everything that’s been going on in the world has influenced not just this collection, but the way we look at our talent,” she tells me quietly after all the other reporters have left. “It’s really influenced the way we look at representation—which, I think, is actually more important than even the collection. It’s a fashion show, yeah, but when people see someone like them, they suddenly feel represented. It brings a lot of confidence out in someone; it gives them a lot of reassurance that they have a space in this world. And that’s something that we push ourselves to expand every single year.”

Lola Leon
Lola Leon
Kevin Mazur
Gottmik
Gottmik
Emma McIntyre
Sabrina Carpenter
Sabrina Carpenter
Kevin Mazur

She’s had a lot of time to think about it. Like so many of us, she spent the last year and a half getting quiet, reflecting. “It was tough. Tough for everyone—mentally, especially,” she says. “The world wasn’t making sense. I was able to be still for a long time. Inspiration finally came when I remembered the little things that I love to do, the simple things that make me happy: grocery shopping, taking walks, going on bike rides, cooking. Those little things that I’m trying to incorporate into my lifestyle now that the outside is opening up again and we’re about to get right back into what things used to look like. I’m trying to make sure that I still keep those things in my life.”


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