Earlier today, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury group, officially confirmed not only that Rihanna’s fashion line was becoming part of its gilded stable, but also that the first products from the new company would be unveiled – in a few weeks.
Rihanna will become the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH, the first woman of colour at the top of an LVMH maison, and her line will be the first new house created by the group since Christian Lacroix in 1987. It joins such storied heritage brands as Dior, Givenchy, Celine and Fendi and positions Rihanna as a breakthrough designer on a number of levels.
The brand will be based in Paris, and include ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories, and “is cantered on Rihanna, developed by her, and takes shape with her vision,” according to a statement from LVMH.
It is, in other words, the first brand of the Instagram age supported by one of the three big groups that have defined the global luxury era.
“Designing a line like this with LVMH is an incredibly special moment for us,” Rihanna, 31, said in the statement. “Mr [Bernard ] 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.”
The news of a deal between LVMH and Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was originally leaked in January, but this is the first time either party has spoken about their agreement.
“Everybody knows Rihanna as a wonderful singer, but through our partnership at Fenty Beauty, I discovered a true entrepreneur, a real CEO and a terrific leader,” Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH, said in the statement, referring to the partnership Fenty has had with LVMH since 2017 to create and distribute its beauty line.
“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.”
The Group resources are notably large – LVMH reported first quarter revenues in April of 12.5 billion euros ($14.1 billion), an increase of 16 per cent – and the emphasis on “multicultural,” in a time when many luxury brands are suffering from charges of cultural insensitivity and discrimination, is significant.
LVMH has been making strides in recent years to right the gender balance in luxury, appointing the first female designers of Givenchy in 2017 and Dior in 2016. It has also begun to address the need for diversity, naming Virgil Abloh as the first African-American to head Louis Vuitton men’s wear in 2018.
Fenty, however, has made inclusivity of all kinds – size, race, gender identity – part of its identity from the beginning.
Founded in 2016 under an agreement with Puma, which was then owned by the LVMH rival Kering (the brand was originally called Fenty x Puma), Fenty had its debut at New York Fashion Week before moving to Paris for two seasons.
In 2017, it returned to New York for a show at the Park Avenue Armory that featured freestyle motocross racers zooming around a runway and doing tricks over mounds of sparkly pink sand. Last year she expanded the line to lingerie with Savage x Fenty.
Both Rihanna and LVMH declined to comment further on the plans for a show or stores, but the inclusion of a website – fenty.com – in the statement suggested that the focus, for the beginning at least, would be digital, yet another departure for a group that practically invented the concept of the flagship as brand temple. (New York Times)