Fenty x Puma Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

Fenty x Puma Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Paris Fashion Week

As one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, Rihanna isn’t a woman who is easily impressed. And yet, there is something about Paris that has her starstruck. It’s partly why she chose to show her new Fenty x Puma collection at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, a stately 19th-century mansion in the Eighth Arrondissement of the city, today. You’d have to travel about 45 minutes west to hit the starting point for her inspiration: the Palace of Versailles. It’s in those gilded hallways, once inhabited by Marie Antoinette, that Rihanna shot her campaign for Dior back in 2015. Like many visitors to the grounds, Rihanna left feeling completely enchanted by the place and the extravagant lifestyle of France’s last queen prior to the Revolution.

Rihanna filtered those regal, 18th-century references through a thoroughly modern lens for Spring 2017. As the singer put it, these were clothes that Marie Antoinette might wear in a parallel universe, where state-of-the-art gyms and whale-boned corsets lived side by side. There was plenty of corsetry thrown into the mix in the same opposites-attract way that the singer styles herself in real life—sometimes it whittled the waist of a baggy brocade boilersuit; other times it bound the sides of skintight flared track pants. When it comes to street style, Rihanna is an expert shape-shifter, and is constantly toying with proportions at both ends of the spectrum: She’ll happily step out in an amorphous tracksuit one moment, then turn up with a sexy body-skimming slip the next. After the overtly gothic beat of last season, the new collection spoke to that alluring duality of her style in much softer, coquettish tones—think: pale pink lace gym shorts, pale pink sheer anoraks covered in ruffles and worn with matching pink killer heels; pink baseball caps tied up in ribbons and pink peplum hoodies. Cast your mind back to Rihanna’s VMA performance, and you might remember the pretty pink subversive costumes with which she chose to open the show.

She struck the same tension between tender and tough with her menswear pieces, including a floral brocade boilersuit that was draped off the shoulder of one bleach-blond male model. Hitting that gender-neutral sweet spot with convincing streetwise attitude—think: a do-rag fashioned from lilac lace and jumbo pearl necklaces in place of traditional gold dookie chains—isn’t easy, but it’s something that comes as second nature to Rihanna, who confidently flirts with all aspects of a cool guy’s wardrobe. And after her best-selling unisex Puma creepers, there was a whole new shoe wardrobe to play with that ran the gamut from delicate pointed mules to full-on platform stomper boots.

Sometimes when a famous person tries his or her hand at another discipline, the results can be uneven. Trusting a real-estate developer with, say, the future of a country sounds like a dubious proposition even in hypothetical terms. And yet there are those special cases when making the switch leads to a good surprise. When it comes to fashion, Victoria Beckham and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have certainly proved their worth. Judging by the collection she showed today, we can add Rihanna to that list.

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