Rihanna’s last Savage X Fenty show went down in history as a benchmark of how fashion shows should be: inclusive and electric. Featuring a diverse cast of women presented, as RiRi herself said, as “works of art” rather than as clothes horses, the game-changing business woman revolutionized how lingerie is presented on the runway in one show. Following up the 2019 “fashion musical”, which was broadcast to millions, therefore would appear to be a tough ask. Or would it?
“Inclusiveness for me has always been instinctive. The only thing I could think of was to include everyone”. This phrase uttered by Rihanna on the Savage x Fenty Vol.2 show, perfectly describes the essence of her lingerie brand she created in 2018. Her second televised show, now available on Amazon Prime Video, is an ode to diversity, with models of all sizes and ages sporting daring lingerie sets while they walk to the rhythm of seductive music that manages to catch the viewer.
Savage x Fenty only takes fifty minutes to make us forget about Victoria’s Secret universe. The show begins with the artist on her back, with her brand new ‘mullet’ haircut and dressed in one of her black designs. Fishnet stockings stand out, an accessory that is present in most looks.
Black is the color with which Rihanna starts a parade in which the play of light and shadow creates that aura of mystery, very suggestive, that accompanies the entire show. The first ‘curvy’ girls appear, proudly showing their imperfections on their bodies and boys with the brand’s new satin pajamas. And suddenly Cara Delevingne enters, with a very punk hairstyle and striking makeup that seduces the camera.
After some energetic dancing, it’s Rosalía’s time. The singer puts the Spanish touch to the show dressed in pieces of the brand. A few minutes in which the artist becomes the absolute protagonist, something that also happens with the musical performances of Miguel or Travis Scott. Unlike the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, at the Savage x Fenty the artists perform alone, with no models walking as they perform their songs.
Throughout the entire show, some videos are included that show the creative process of this new line, a process initially carried out through video calls, which is also reflected in the different scenarios created for the occasion, each one with different colors that mark each part.
Bella Hadid soon appears on the scene in striking XL boots and matching vinyl gloves. A segment that shares the limelight with Demi Moore, which shows that age is not an impediment when it comes to feeling sexy while posing with a black lace bodysuit.
The song ‘Yo perreo sola’, by Bad Bunny, begins the third part focused on blue, with an empowered Lizzo, moving sensually. Then the stage is transformed into a forest that is pure fantasy that serves to present the designs in shades of gray, pink and green. A much more colorful part that has the presence of Irina Shayk, with very long lashes in fuchsia pink, the same accessory that Rihanna wears, which marks one of the most shocking moments.
The final part is moved to a production workshop, the last step before putting the underwear on sale. The explosion of color comes from the hands of Paris Hilton, dressed as a Barbie with matching glasses, and drag artists Gigi Goode, Shea Couleé and Jaida Essence Hall. A few final minutes of vertigo in which Irina Shayk brings out her most daring side with a black lingerie set and Rihanna appears, dressed in leather effect shorts, a plumeti blouse and XL gloves, to put an end to her most spectacular show up to the date.
Rihanna’s lingerie show set design is an architectural “mash up”:
Canadian designer Willo Perron created a a “mash up” of architectural iconography for the set design of Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show at New York Fashion Week.
Singer-turned-businesswoman Rihanna presented her fashion show as an hour-long music and dance performance on a stage filled with exaggerated architectural elements. As creative director, Perron took his cues from the the lingerie brand’s latest look book, which was shot on location in Morocco. “We looked at architecture there and from a lot of southern Europe and north Africa – the iconography of the stairs and arches,” Perron said. “It’s a mash up of a bunch of different things.”
For the Fenty x Savage show, lines and shapes were simplified and modernised by Perron to create a backdrop. Celebrities, including Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid and Laverne Cox, and models were cast to represent a diverse range of ethnicities and sizes.
The set – which is mostly a facade supported by a elaborate construction of scaffolding behind the scenes –was an all-white backdrop that could be changed in an instant by shifting the lighting angle and colours. “For us it was taking something theatrical and having verticality to it, and the feeling that you’re in another place”, said Perron.
It also had to accommodate the choreography, with stairways arranged strategically and platforms reinforced for the performers to dance on. Perron, who has also designed sets for musicians including Drake, Jay Z and St Vincent, has collaborated with Rihanna on her live shows for years.
For the Savage x Fenty show they decided to make something that would break the mould of a traditional catwalk presentation, producing a hybrid show closer to an arena tour performance.”The fashion show is so archaic,” said Perron. “We used to have [John] Galliano with the train coming into the station, these mega theatrical pieces, [Alexander] McQueen shows.”
Instead of the current standard 15-minute-long event with fashion elites and celebrities seated either side of a catwalk, the Savage x Fenty presentation was an hour long and opened with a performance from Rihanna, spotlight on a central podium.”The opening piece with the plinths was actually retrofitted into the existing set,” said Perron. “Rihanna saw the choreography and loved it and wanted to be a part of the opening segment.
Phones were banned from the venue and the live show was recorded and streamed via Amazon Prime a week later. “I think it’s great that someone can sit down and watch an hour-long fashion show,” says Perron.
Despite the tech ban, the show is still divided up in a way that makes it consumable in the social-media age. “It is done in bite-sizes. If you take the show apart it can be consumed in four or five-minute segments, so it still works for the attention-deficient generation,” jokes Perron, referencing a fashion-conscious audience used to the endless scroll of Instagram.
Perron finds a lot of his inspiration online. He keeps a folder on his computer desktop of images that interest him, collected by his magpie-like approach to visual inspiration.”I scour the internet. Anything I’ve found that I like or inspires me for some strange reason I pull aside. I have a constantly evolving book library at the office. Everything from snapping photos on the street, travel and random social media stuff”, he said.
Yesterday the Architect’s Newspaper published an opinion piece suggesting that Perron and Rihanna were referencing the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana – a building in Rome commissioned by Benito Mussolini considered an example of Fascist architecture.
However, the colosseum-style arrangement of arches also appears in a lot of Mediterranean modernist buildings, including Maltese architect Richard England’s Aquasun Lido in Paceville, Malta.
Parris Goebel choreographed a ‘thrilling adventure’ for Rihanna’s new fashion launch event:
Choreographer Parris Goebel is receiving high praise for Savage X Fenty Vol. 2, the runway event to launch the new season range in Rihanna’s fashion line, which has launched on Amazon Prime Video.
Far from a classic Fashion Week show, the launch is a glossy, star-studded performance, featuring over-thetop styling and elaborate sets (and choreographer Goebel herself). For the film Goebel choreographed moves for celebrities and performers including Demi Moore, Lizzo, Bella Hadid, Christian Combs and many more.
The show was also widely praised for its inclusivity, with performers from across the spectrum of races, body types, and genders represented, as well as its positive approach to female sexuality.
Goebel, who was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit at the last New Year’s Honors, said in an Instagram post she had “poured my whole heart and soul into this show.