There’s no question that Normani is a star. Formerly Fifth Harmony’s best dancer, she broke out with her debut single “Motivation” in 2019. Rihanna has clearly taken notice. First she asked Normani to dance at her Savage X Fenty runway show this September—if you missed the footage, please watch it on Amazon Prime Video ASAP. Now she’s signed Normani as Savage X’s first-ever brand ambassador. Chief among Normani’s ambassadorial duties is appearing in the brand’s holiday campaign, debuting exclusively here.
Just before heading into a recording session for her new album—yes, it’s coming in 2020!—Normani chatted to Vogue Runway about Rihanna, lingerie, and feeling empowered.
What does it feel like to be named Savage X Fenty’s first brand ambassador?
I was very excited and really honored, especially that the ask came from Rihanna herself. I know that this is her passion project, something she genuinely and wholeheartedly believes in and cares about, and the fact that she wanted me to be a part of that meant a lot to me. She is somebody I’ve looked up to for a very, very long time. She’s had so much influence on me in terms of pop culture and as a woman, but also in terms of how she’s able to do things gracefully while being cutting edge, being bold, pushing the needle, and changing the narrative.
I think that being a part of Savage X Fenty is an amazing opportunity for me to show women that I’m also here for them too. I love how inclusive the brand is. Being a part of the show and being able to have the opportunity to dance and do what I love was so powerful. It was great to be among so many amazing human beings who deserve to be celebrated because they’re all beautiful—all shapes, all sizes. The show represented everybody. I just love how inclusive [the brand] is and how it gives everybody the opportunity to feel sexy and beautiful and empowered—which is everything that I stand for as well. I thought it would be the perfect partnership.
The show in September was easily the most fun I’ve ever had at a fashion event. What was the energy like backstage?
Honestly, it was the most fun for me too, and I don’t think I’ve been to very many—I can’t even call it a fashion show. It was a full-on experience. It was a concert, it was very artistic. You could feel the energy, it was really infectious. I was really excited to be a part of it. The crowd and the models were supporting each other.
What was it like to perform in your lingerie?
To be completely honest, that was my first time performing in lingerie, but [the fact that] everybody around me—the dancers, the models—felt empowered really helped. Also the pieces themselves help boost that confidence. Yes, I perform on stage almost every night and performing is something I’m used to, but like I said I’ve never performed in lingerie, so I had to commit. I did have a conversation with myself: OK, all you can do it commit because you are in lingerie in front of people you don’t know! All you can do is really commit because you are going out there. [Laughs.] That’s exactly what I did. I love to dance and I feel like it came from my heart. Rih specifically asked for me to dance, and so I was just really, really excited to be a part of that moment. I feel like it was really revolutionary and really very special. I’m just really excited to watch the growth of Savage X and hopefully continue to be a part of it.
What are some of your favorite pieces? I know in the holiday campaign you wear a lot of red lingerie.
I think that is actually one of my favorites. Also the pieces that I wore in the show. Her bras—I am a heavy-chested girl and that’s the only reason I was able to go 110%, because I felt supported and I didn’t feel like I was going to come out of everything. Everything is very, very durable, and you can tell that Rih herself and also the Savage team takes time out to make sure it’s the best quality possible.
One of the things I like is that the lingerie is very much about being sexy on your own terms.
I definitely agree. I feel like it’s not about having to conform and fit whatever the standard definition of sexy is. Rih does a really amazing job of making it universal and having something in the collection for everybody, even down to the way the bra cuts you. I have a hard time, like I said, walking into any store and finding something that I feel comfortable in, but also sexy in, and something that I can also wear all day. I feel like she has done that with Savage X, for sure.
So much of your recent work has been about the women and the artists who have inspired you, can you tell me a little bit about the ways that Rihanna has impacted you?
Honestly, I think it’s her fearlessness. I think that she has made it sexy to be yourself. I feel like she pushes the needle, she’s always creating her own narrative and helping move music forward. I think that she has empowered women all over to embrace their sexuality as well. She doesn’t shy away from it, I think that’s what we love about her. She’s so transparent with us and unapologetically herself, which is very, very hard, especially as a woman, especially when society tells you what its standards of beauty are and what we’re supposed to be. I feel that she has broken so many barriers, which is something that I hope to do and I’m very, very inspired to do. I think she gives women the opportunity to feel sexy, even on their worst day, you know? She really is writing her own story.
There are so many people who look up to you in the same way we look up to Rihanna. What message do you want them to get from this campaign?
I want all individuals to feel empowered and to embrace who they truly are. I don’t always wake up the most confident, but I think that’s why Savage X is so important. Being around so many beautiful women and so many beautiful individuals at the show gave me the confidence that I needed to go out there and let my light shine. To the people who see this campaign I would say: Believe in yourself, know that there’s only one you. I wake up not confident sometimes and Savage X gives me the opportunity to feel great, empowered, fearless, and beautiful. So you should definitely cop your lingerie! Also! Do it for yourself, not for anybody else. Last night I wore mine and I was like, “This is real cute just for going to sleep, but for myself!”
Then you wake up happy.
The year 2020 is going to be a huge year for you. What are you most excited about?
I sure hope it’s a big year. What I’m looking forward to most is releasing my album. I’m really excited for my fans to hear it because they’ve been very patient with me and they’ve been there since the beginning of my journey—and my new fans too. I’ve been using these new sessions as therapy and as an opportunity for me to know myself in a different way. I can’t wait for everybody else to be able to tap into that and get to know the real me.
Originally Appeared on Vogue