Vogue's Rihanna cover story offers the sage wisdom we all need
When Vogue’s November cover profile of Rihanna landed online Wednesday, much of the internet objected to writer Abby Aguirre’s choice of quirky, relatable intro.
“Normally I bring a list of questions, but I didn’t have time to prepare one, which I make a split-second decision to confess,” Aguire wrote. “‘I’m winging it, so you have to help me,’” she confessed to the richest woman in music. Rihanna handled things in the most typically Rihanna fashion, however. “Aren’t we all?” she replied.
Journalistic Twitter was incensed. Aguirre got the chance to interview Ms. Robyn Rihanna Fenty, and she couldn’t be bothered to prepare questions beforehand? To be fair, Aguirre mentioned at the top of her piece that Rihanna bumped up their interview by some 36ish hours, but girl, still…
Controversy aside, Vogue’s interview with Rihanna is peppered with fascinating tidbits about the Bajan multi-hyphenate, focusing on her rise to fashion powerhouse as founder of Fenty Beauty, Savage x Fenty, and now Fenty maison, her Paris-based couture line. Heading up the brand for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton makes her the first black woman to lead a major luxury fashion house, according to the Vogue article. Here’s what else we gleaned from Rihanna’s cover story:
Rihanna smells like a goddess
“She sweeps in quietly, enveloping the area and probably the swans outside in an invisible cloud of her famous scent—an intoxicating olfactory assault that, in the words of Lil Nas X, ‘literally smells like heaven.’ (The internet has decided it’s a Kilian fragrance called Love, Don’t Be Shy, which contains notes of neroli, orange blossom, and marshmallow.)”
Rihanna gets what she wants, when she wants it
Fenty maison does pop-ups but eschews traditional retail; it’s focused on direct-to-consumer online sales with a Supreme-like “drop” every month or so. “This is because when Rihanna sees something she likes — which at the moment includes a lot of Balenciaga, which is getting on her nerves and giving her designer envy — she wants it now. Not in six months. Rihanna does not want to buy winter coats in August,” Aguirre wrote in Vogue.
Fenty maison is “all over the place,” like she is
Rihanna’s style is hard to pin down. “It can be tomboy one day,” the singer told Vogue. “It can be a gown the next. A skirt. A swimsuit.” Jahleel Weaver, Fenty maison’s style director, said his team initially had trouble capturing Rihanna’s aesthetic, but a breakthrough came when the singer herself reacted to the divergent energy of early designs. “Really casually, not even making eye contact, [Rihanna] said, ‘It’s kind of all over the place. But I get it ’cause I’m all over the place.’” The team decided to embrace that aesthetic and not limit the scope of Fenty maison to just ballgowns or clubwear or swim, for example.
She’s getting close to finishing R9, her forthcoming, untitled reggae-inflected album
Aguirre asked why it’s a good time for an island-inspired album, and the star responded, “Reggae always feels right to me. It’s in my blood. It doesn’t matter how far or long removed I am from that culture, or my environment that I grew up in; it never leaves. It’s always the same high. Even though I’ve explored other genres of music, it was time to go back to something that I haven’t really homed in on completely for a body of work.”
And she’s lowkey scared of the Navy, aka her super fans
“When I ask about a release date, Rihanna’s face morphs into a grimace, equal parts amusement and terror. ‘No, oh my God, they’re gonna kill you for that!’ she exclaims. [...] For a moment I have no clue who she’s talking about. Wait—Vogue? Your record company? The international reggae police? ‘I’m talking the Navy—my scary fans,’ Rihanna clarifies. ‘But they’ve earned it,’ she is quick to add. ‘They got me here.’”
Rihanna’s philanthropy focuses on women’s health and climate resistance
Proceeds from Savage X Fenty and Fenty Beauty support the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna’s nonprofit named after her late-grandmother and grandfather. The organization was set up to fund education and emergency disaster response efforts, mostly in the Caribbean. The foundation has shifted focus lately to women’s health and climate resistance, after its leadership toured Puerto Rico a year after Hurricane Maria and witnessed the unmet health needs there. (Unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy complications, and HIV rates spike after natural disasters.)
She called Trump the “most mentally ill human being in America right now”
After the president said that back-to-back shootings in Texas and Ohio were the result of a “mental illness problem” Rihanna clapped back and tweeted, “Um . . . Donald, you spelled terrorism wrong!” She elaborated on the incident with Vogue. “It’s completely racist. Put an Arab man with that same weapon in that same Walmart and there is no way that Trump would sit there and address it publicly as a mental health problem. The most mentally ill human being in America right now seems to be the president,” she said.
She turned down performing at the Super Bowl
Rihanna notably passed on the opportunity to perform at this year's Super Bowl — the league ultimately landed on Maroon Five and Travis Scott — and in her interview she gave a hearty defense of her decision.
"I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people," Rihanna siad. "I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler."
The NFL has been in hot water over a slew of issues, from their handling of concussions and sexual assault among players to the effective blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick, who many believe wa benched, and ultimately cut, for being outspoken about racial injustice.
"There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way,” Rihanna continued.
Cardi B bought a copy of Rihanna’s coffee table book for $111,000
The “Ultra Luxury Supreme” edition of Rihanna comes with a 2,000-pound Portuguese marble stand designed by twin artists the Haas Brothers. “First of all, the money is going to charity,” Cardi B told Vogue. “Second, I know my business. I know the worth of the book!” Regular editions of the book cost $150 and do not include a marble stand.