Rihanna Makes History as First Female Designer of Color at LVMH With Launch of Fenty Fashion Brand

Chesnot/WireImage

On May 24 in Paris, the long-anticipated Fenty luxury label will debut ready-to-wear, shoes, sunglasses, jewelry and other accessories.

Could Rihanna be the Coco Chanel of the 21st century? Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton LVMH, the parent company of Dior, Givenchy and Fendi, may think so. Today it announced that it has closed a deal to back her new Paris-based Fenty fashion brand, making her the first female designer of color at the largest luxury conglomerate in the world and marking the first brand launch by LVMH since Christian Lacroix in 1987. 

Rumors of a forthcoming Fenty fashion line were first reported from anonymous sources by WWD in January after Rihanna was photographed on the street in Manhattan wearing a pair of visor-like Fenty-branded sunglasses, hinting at what was to come.

The new Fenty label will present its first collection of ready-to-wear, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and other accessories in Paris on May 24.

“Designing a line like this with LVMH is an incredibly special moment for us,” Robyn Rihanna Fenty said in an LVMH press statement. “Mr. [Bernard] Arnault has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits. I couldn’t imagine a better partner both creatively and business-wise, and I’m ready for the world to see what we have built together.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

@fenty .

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, said, “Everybody knows Rihanna as a wonderful singer, but through our partnership at Fenty Beauty, I discovered a true entrepreneur, a real CEO and a terrific leader. She naturally finds her full place within LVMH. To support Rihanna to start up the Fenty Maison, we have built a talented and multicultural team supported by the Group resources.”

The move is particularly significant since the pop star has no fashion design training per se. But she does have plenty of hands-on experience. Rihanna has created capsule collections for British fashion retailer River Island, served as the creative director of Puma from 2014 through 2018 and, last May, she debuted a Savage x Fenty size-inclusive line of lingerie with El Segundo-based TechStyle Fashion Group. Of course, in 2017 she also launched the game-changing LVMH-backed Fenty Beauty line, which set a precedent with 40 shades of foundation (since expanded to 50) to match a variety of diverse skin tones.

The combination of Fenty and LVMH may be the clearest expression yet of how celebrity and social media have redefined the power balance between culture and consumption, changing the way brands of all kinds relate to their audience. Rihanna's immense global influence and large social media following (including 70.5 million followers on Instagram and 90.8 million on Twitter) were clearly a huge draw for the luxury conglomerate, which has largely made a name for reinventing well-known heritage fashion brands.

May 20, 11:10 a.m.: Updated to reflect Fenty's launch in Paris will be May 24.