Fashion Obscura: A Designer for the 21st Century

A few weeks ago, Rihanna’s latest collection with Puma was shown at Paris Fashion Week, an event whose reverberations seem to have been felt just about everywhere. Case in point: I walked into my homeroom the morning after the show and was almost immediately met with questions from friends asking if I had seen it and expressing their dismay over the fact that many of the items were already sold out.

Right away, it was clear that this was the power of Rihanna at play: her stardom, undeniable signature style, and the admiration she attains from practically her every move. While all of these things she may have, I was surprised to find myself walking out of homeroom and wondering if she truly deserved the title of designer. In reality, behind each celebrity (the “face”) is the real designer, who combines the vision of the celebrity with their own ideas and skill set. Rihanna’s wonderful and very seasoned Fenty designer is named Melissa Battifarano, and her presence and influence is pretty constant if you examine behind-the-scenes pictures of and articles about the collection.

For one reason or another, this topic remained on my mind for the following days until I eventually came to a conclusion. The thing I was reminded of is that the world we live in today is a changed one, and the same could not be more true for the world of fashion. Now, we see bloggers sit front row next to seasoned editors and models as social media mavens known for much more than their faces—unprecedented things in a once-elite community. Although a good portion of the fashion community has embraced these changes, many are wary of new concepts like the celebrity-turned-designer, and I can understand those who argue that there is a lack of authenticity. However, condemning those who push boundaries seems counterintuitive for an industry that prides itself on this exact thing. I am hard pressed to find something more authentic and inventive than a collection like Rihanna’s, one that blurs the lines between celebrity and creator and all while doing it in style.

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