Rihanna Champions Greater Diversity in Fashion

Rihanna Champions Greater Diversity in Fashion

With her Fenty Beauty launch and her Fenty x Puma line, Rihanna sheds light on the fashion industry's stunning lack of diversity.

With her Fenty Beauty launch and her Fenty x Puma line, Rihanna sheds light on the fashion industry's stunning lack of diversity.

Text: Cassidy Morrison

Rihanna brought her Fenty x Puma line to New York Fashion Week in perfect motocross style complete with scuba suits, leather and neon biker shorts. No, she is not subtle. She is no Victoria Beckham nor is she Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen of The Row. She does not demurely toil in her studio. She does not bow to the fashion hierarchy. She climbs to the top and she has fun while she does it.

As of last week, Rihanna became a beauty mogul with the launch of Fenty Beauty. The range of cosmetics celebrates women of all skin tones. Beauty ambassadors and celebrities alike have already celebrated the campaign. But underneath the early acclaim lies dormant her deeper message. We need greater diversity in fashion. In 2015, Rihanna became Dior’s first black model, a step forward to be sure, but a late one at that. Why is it that so many other industries have embraced diversity in the same way that fashion has not? The music industry welcomes artists globally, yet in 2014, 567 white models were chosen for cover pieces while 119 models of color were chosen.

Rihanna’s foray into fashion represents exactly what the industry has been missing: multiculturalism. The models used in her Fenty Beauty campaign, though still sample-size thin, were diverse. “There’s so many different shades… you want people to appreciate the product and not feel like ‘Oh that’s cute but it only looks good on her’,” Rihanna said at the launch event.

Rihanna is ushering in a new era for New York fashion, which, for years, seemed like it was only for certain models who fit very specific standards of beauty. Now, we have a new icon in Rihanna. One who is not afraid to come as she is. One who will arrive in pink fur or Manolo Blahnik chaps. One who will include multicultural models on her runways and 40 colors of foundation for her dedicated beauty fans.

She is just as much a sartorial risk-taker as she is a musical superstar. But she does so with purpose. She represents one of the few powerful women of color in the fashion industry. She barrels into the fashion world much like she did at the Fenty x Puma show: on a motorbike without a helmet.

Credits: Photo courtesy of Dara Kushner/Instarimages.com, Vince Flores/Startraksphoto.Com

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