Singer, fashion trendsetter, philanthropist and entrepreneur Rihanna has become the first black woman to launch a brand under Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH). Furthermore this will be the first time Chief Executive officer, Bernard Arnault, will launch a new brand under the parent company since Christian Lacroix in 1987.
She may not be releasing music but Rihanna is making history with every business move she's been making recently. Branching out of the music world to release her ground-breaking and inclusive Fenty beauty make up line she has only gone on from entrepreneurial strength to strength. Her subsequent SavagexFenty lingerie line seems to have been her stepping stone into the fashion world, but this time not as the muse but the creator.
The announcement that she would be creating a luxury brand is really not a surprise given her history as a fashion icon and trendsetter but how she has gone about it is nothing less than impressive. Rihanna is set to become the first Black woman to create a luxury brand with Loius Vuitton, arguably the world's biggest luxury brand.
Since signing on Ghanaian-American designer Virgil Abloh as its creative director, Louis Vuitton is finally making strides into the present. The old fashion house is shaking off its outdated and shrouded design systems to for the first time since 1987 launch a new house and under a black woman to boot. It will join such heritage brands as Dior, Givenchy, Celine and Fendi.
On the other hand LVMH's first foray into original couture with Lacroix in 1987 did not end well at all. From that year to its purchase by Falic Fashion Group from LVMH in 2005, the fashion house had cumulative losses of more than €44 million. In fact throughout its history, it never turned a profit and reported a €10 million loss in 2008. But Lacroix unlike the black girl magic that is Rihanna was always criticised for creating designs that were fantastical and magical but unwearable.
As he told Time magazine in 1987, couture should be "fun, foolish, almost unwearable". A sentiment that although idealistic cost him his label in the end when Paris's commercial court ruled that the fashion house cease making haute couture.
Rihanna's personal brand however currently has as much global currency, name-recognition and influence as any top designer. Her inclusive, multi-cultural, diverse and most importantly digital imprint will lend its weight to all her ventures including this one.
The fashion brand whose logo features a graphic representation of Fenty in white letters against a blue background with a reversed "N," will be based in Paris and will include ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories, and "is centred on Rihanna, developed by her, and takes shape with her vision," according to a statement from LVMH.
"Designing a line like this with LVMH is an incredibly special moment for us," Rihanna is quoted saying by the New York Times. "Mr. Arnault has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits. I couldn't imagine a better partner both creatively and business-wise, and I'm ready for the world to see what we have built together."
Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH referring to the partnership Fenty has had with LVMH since 2017 to create and distribute its beauty line, said in the statement. "Everybody knows Rihanna as a wonderful singer, but through our partnership at Fenty Beauty, I discovered a true entrepreneur, a real C.E.O. and a terrific leader."
"She naturally finds her full place within LVMH," he continued. "To support Rihanna to start up the Fenty Maison, we have built a talented and multicultural team supported by the Group resources."
Although there have been no hints yet regarding what the collection will look like, the style icon is known for taking risks, from her own Met Gala outfits to her high-fashion streetwear forays. There has been some speculation however that she may include African inspired designs, an idea that isn't too much of a reach given the inclusion of African prints and accessories into pop culture the last few year.
This is however yet to be confirmed and may not be well received by many Africans who would see it as further exploitation of an already over exploited people and culture.