"I don't know if it's political so much as embracing the fact that people should be more aware."
There's no question that Rihanna has become a force to be reckoned with in both the fashion and beauty industries. The singer-turned-mogul has been busy, between building Fenty Beauty into an industry-disrupting, inclusive brand and creating Savage x Fenty, a body-positive lingerie line which celebrates a diverse range of sizes and body types.
In launching her luxury fashion line Fenty, Rihanna now takes on the historic role of the first woman of color — and more specifically, the first Black woman — to helm an LVMH Maison. And she's paying tribute to this major moment in the debut Fenty campaign: Alongside each collection look shot against a dark turquoise backdrop is a black-and-white photograph by Kwame Brathwaite, a major figure in the "Black Is Beautiful" movement that was propelled by Black creatives in New York City in the 1960s.
Rihanna told Vogue that she and her team had been looking around for a concept for the brand's debut and found the photographer's archive. Within it, there was a documentary about the Grandassa Models, a group of young Black female activists who used fashion as a vehicle to honor and elevate Black culture. In an interview with The New Yorker earlier this year, Brathwaite discussed the thought process behind bringing together the Grandassa Models, explaining, "We said, 'We've got to do something to make the women feel proud of their hair, proud of their blackness.'"
"It was a really strange and powerful parallel," Rihanna told Vogue of Brathwaite's images. "And he gave me permission [to use the imagery], obviously that is a big deal."
Rihanna also found another striking similarity: Brathwaite is not only from Barbados, like herself, but he also shares her grandfather's last name, which was her mother's name before it became Fenty.
When asked whether she wants to send a political message with Fenty, Rihanna tells Vogue, "Well, I don't know if it's political so much as embracing the fact that people should be more aware. But definitely, we want people to see the parallels between what was then and what this is now, in a modern way."
In an exclusive first-look at Fenty's first collection in The New York Times' T Magazine, Rihanna discussed stepping in to her role as a young, Black woman navigating this unique and, quite frankly, rare space: "[Being young, Black and a woman does] come into play, but I will not apologize for them, and I will not back down from being a woman, from being black, from having an opinion. I'm running a company and that's exactly what I came here to do."
See the gallery below for the images from the Fenty campaign.
View the 4 images of this gallery on the original article