Rihanna’s first ready to wear collection for British high street retailer River Island debuted at London Fashion Week today.
While some critics applauded the bold brassiness of the clothes, others think that only the pop star’s “Navy” fan base would consider wearing them.
Here’s a snapshot of what the fashion critics are saying:
Tom Sykes of Daily Beast Fashion, in a piece entitled “The Horror! The Horror! Rihanna’s Porny Debut At LFW,” said:
“There were few who anticipated a fashion triumph, but, even allowing for the limited expectations, Rihanna’s collection for River Island as brought forth in London tonight was a horror show.The clothes were hideous and without an ounce of panache or style between them.”
“True, there were some consolations. For example, if you really, really like belly buttons, if you are totally nuts for navels, then this could be the collection for you. If you only feel capable of wearing clothes on the lower half of your body if they are slashed up to your waist, then again, you are in luck.”
The Associated Press were kinder, writing:
“No one went to Rihanna’s Saturday night debut as a fashion designer expecting demure dresses set off with tasteful pearls. So no one was surprised by the double-volume hip-hop music, smoke machines and champagne that greeted guests at the unveiling of her Rihanna for River Island collection.”
“And few were taken aback by the bad girl, rock chick styling of some of her clothes, with tight-fitting jersey outfits and dresses cut to show more than a bit of leg. It was a fun, flattering collection aimed at young women, containing nothing shocking or outrageous from a singer who has been known to bring those elements to her live performances.”
While over at Pedestrian TV, the snark pen was out with a full load of ink:
“The collection itself was kinda basic, but perhaps that was the point. Like the singer’s seventh album in as many years, the collection was never going to reinvent the wheel, so the major discernible incentives for Rihanna in presenting a collection for a high street retailer are obviously a) commerce, commercial appeal and b) clothes for Rihanna herself to wear on various super yachts while being her usual blunt self.”
On the flipside, heavy hitter Elle Magazine loved it, enthusing:
“We should have known she wouldn’t disappoint. Her London Fashion Week debut was more of a party than a show – the bass heavy soundtrack had Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn (huge models) dancing front row throughout. And there was no catwalk – instead, stacked boxes that the models strode up and through.”
“As for the clothes? Pure Rihanna, from the striped cropped bra top and hot pants to the sporty jumpsuit, the super sexy sheer maxi dress to the denim dungaree bra top and two tone, high waisted jeans.”
Likewise handbag.com called the show “amazing,” and praised the:
“Sleek black silhouettes dominated the line-up, including side-split maxi lengths, that denim jumpsuit and all things crop tops.”
MTV Style also found little to fault in the collection, raving:
“We’re totally on-board with her comfy girly-yet-grunge pieces. She kicked off her show with Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “Clique” blasting to a light show on a multi-level platform stage, and then sent out a two-piece denim ensemble for her opening look. She remixed traditional denim overalls but cutting them into two pieces and adding an extra layer of baggy jeans (literally) on top of a lighter pair, which we’ve never seen before.”
Yahoo Lifestyle said the collection packed “a real statement” noting:
“The star’s influence was clear from the start, as black hooded jumpsuits, box-shouldered crop tops and a thigh-high split maxi skirt hit the stage, oozing her urban style… Monochrome came in the form of a striped short suit and trousers in a smudge-print – also seen on a sheer, flowing maxi dress that we’re predicting will be the hit of the collection.”
Company magazine also heaped laurels:
“Satin dresses, jersey skirts and dresses with thigh-high splits, denim, crop tops, varsity jackets and fine knits were among the collection, which was actually amazing – those of you who worried that a singer couldn’t design a clothing range have nothing to worry about!”
The Independent highlighted:
“Zesty silk dresses tied at the waist, grey marl jersey, crop tops, and denim-on-denim made up a wardrobe that was urban and casual in its look, and which mixed high and low references in an homage to its creator’s own style.”
“If you want to dress like Rihanna, this is what to buy – but be warned, steel abs don’t come as standard.”
Reuters noted the “boyish, casual designs” and quoted Los Angeles model Tolula Adeyemi, as saying:
“I loved it, it’s so Rihanna, it’s got Rihanna’s name all over it. I kind of want the whole collection, it’s got plenty of swag.”
Sober judges at the best of times, The Guardian, compared Rihanna’s bid for fashion fiefdom to Mary and Kate Olsen’s debut years ago — the sisters were named as Womenswear Designers of the Year by Council of Fashion Designers of America last year — concluding:
“For keen fashion enthusiasts who look to London for innovative ideas this 120-piece collection undoubtedly fell short. There is little doubt the collaboration, which is supported by a marketing campaign featuring Dunn, will be a winner when it hits the shops next month.”
Which, to be frank, is the point of selling clothes in a high street store.
But if there is an overall verdict on Rihanna’s collection, it’s that there isn’t an overall verdict.
Some thought the singer “hit the nail right on the head,” others found the whole thing a “tiresome, underwhelming, and uninspired marketing exercise.”
In short, the show was very much like the singer herself. Unapologetic.
For her part, Rihanna — wearing an Alaïa little black dress — took her bow at the end of the packed show, along with co-designer Adam Selman. The Bajan star reportedly beamed at the reception she received.
The full collection hits River Island stores on March 5 and the true indicator will be how fast the clothes get pulled off the shelves. Take a look at the footage from London Fashion week and let us know what you think of Rihanna’s debut.