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  • Claire Kalikman

LVMH recruits Rihanna to start new brand

Yale Fashion House

JANUARY 24, 2019

Rumors are swirling in the fashion world that top fashion multinational LVMH is joining forces with Rihanna to start a brand from scratch. Rihanna, the popular singer, sometime actress, and new fashion designer has had wild success with her Fenty brand underwear and makeup.

This move makes her the first female designer of color at the largest luxury conglomerate in the world.

This collaboration is the latest example of Instagram’s revolutionizing how  the fashion world relates to its consumers. The 10-year old app has changed the power structures of a centuries-old industry. Rihanna has had success with her targeted Instagram ads featuring models of diverse looks bypassing traditional fashion magazines. This collaboration makes sense since there is an increasing demand for clothes in more diverse sizes and styles.

Rihanna, who once complained of running out of clothes, has risen to become a fashion darling. She graced the cover of Edward Enninful’s British Vogue last year with an incredibly striking image reminiscent of vintage Vogue issues. Rihanna has also had the ability to put designers on the map, such as when she wore a Guo Pei design to the Met Gala, fashion’s biggest event, and sparked thousands of memes.

She is not the first celebrity to start a major brand. Look to the success of the Olsen twins and their clothing lines The Row and Elizabeth + James. They stopped working in Hollywood to focus on their fashion brand. Victoria Beckham too translated her name recognition to start an eponymous brand. (But it’s been reported that the company has never turned a profit.)

This venture with Rihanna has surprised some in the fashion industry for a variety of reasons. LVMH normally prefers to take on already established brands.

Also, Rihanna has no formal fashion training. She has worked with stylist Mel Ottenberg for a number of years to put together the show-stopping ensembles she’s been worn at the Met Gala and other events. He once said, “Her love of fashion, her becoming such a genius at using fashion as a creative expression, that's sort of blossomed in the last couple years. I saw the potential there. I could take that and really do something with that." How much of her style has been self-driven and how much has has been directed by outside forces? How much creative control will Rihanna have in this new brand? How much is just name recognition versus actual designing? Should we be promoting people in the fashion world who haven’t gone the Central Saint Martin’s path, but have come from the outside? The fashion world has been quick to denigrate Kanye - another singer turned luxury designer. Will Rihanna be received differently?

It also remains to be seen what kind of clothes she will market. So far she has focused on underwear and streetwear, and some collabs with other brands. Will this new brand be everyday wear? Gowns? How will makeup be incorporated?

With so many unanswered questions, the fashion world must be eager to see if and how this venture changes the industry.

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