What Will Rihanna Bring to Paris Fashion Week?

You and everyone is invited!

09.21.16
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On Monday, Rihanna revealed she’ll be presenting Fenty x Puma’s Spring ’17 collection, her second with the sportswear brand, in Paris a week from today. Obviously we’ve logged too many hours pondering the future of fashion shows to file this away as an everyday announcement.

Rihanna, a quadruple-platinum-certified pop star and Puma, the near-100-year-old athletic brand that probably made your high school soccer jersey, will live-stream the show on Tidal (with additional bonuses like behind-the-scenes footage). They’re doing two viewings, at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., which hints at a small show venue. According to Vogue, it will be “very different from a traditional runway show format.” Curious! Rihanna said they had to show in Paris because it best suits the “the theme and concept” of the collection.

Okay. It’s not that this flavor of commercialism doesn’t have a place in high fashion — in fact, we’re seeing it does with exponentially increasing virility (just look at Kanye) — it’s that seeing it set against the backdrop of Paris Fashion Week (considered by many in the industry to be less commercial; the fashion week that sets the tone for the next season) feels especially surprising. Remember when Kanye showed in 2012? He was laughed off.

It’s all quite fitting, though, on the heels of Leandra and Amelia’s debate last week about whether fashion shows have become basic, isn’t it? Their question still stands: As the way in which buyers and critics interact with collections changes, what is the point of the shows? Are they about the clothes, the consumer, the spectacle? THE FANS? Are they about brand equity? Are they necessary?

Fenty x Puma’s approach next week, paired with the reaction to it, will certainly take a stab at answering some of those questions. It’s not hard to imagine it being well-received; Rihanna’s reputation precedes her. She’s cool, she’s got taste, she’s authentic, she’s near-universally loved. (Love you, Rih.) The show will probably be really fun — I’m personally hoping for shoulder-high boots and fur capes reimagined for Spring and ideally a surprise performance by John Legend. No one can deny Rihanna’s position in the pop cultural mainstream or her fashion influence. The question is whether there’s a place for that in Paris. I guess we’ll find out.

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