Rihanna's Naked CFDA Dress: 'You Will Never Be Stylish If You Don’t Take Risks'

Rihanna CFDA Award - P 2014
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Rihanna CFDA Award - P 2014

Such was the wisdom dispensed by RiRi on the red carpet at Monday's CFDA awards, where Greta Gerwig, Monique Lhuillier and Zac Posen also strolled. We agree.

It's officially the dress seen round the world. And given the dress, it may be a miracle that the nipple-averse Instagram won’t implode as a result.

Never one to approach a red-carpet moment with safety or timidity in mind, Rihanna turned up at the CFDA Awards Monday night in a shimmering, ultra-sheer fishnet gown that left little to the imagination. Crafted by her longtime costume designer Adam Selman, the gown and its matching headwrap featured more than 216,000 Swarovski crystals (fitting, given that the crystal house is a major sponsor of the awards), as well as a pink mink stole the singer used for the occasional strategic placement.

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And why not? Rihanna was the unequivocal star of the event — which took place at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall — there to accept the CFDA’s Style Icon award, so all the better to showcase the daring attitude that has come to embody her fashion sensibility. As she said on the red carpet, “You will never be stylish if you don’t take risks.”

This annual event to honor fashion’s best and brightest indeed offered its share of risk takers: Lupita Nyong’o, who did not garner positive reviews on social media for her disappointing choice of a cropped top and pants by Suno, while Christian Siriano’s hat-bedecked look for Coco Rocha seemed a tad disjointed-meets-space-alien.

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Such looks were the exceptioN rather than the rule, however: Sleek gowns ruled the night, including Karlie Kloss in Band of Outsiders, as well as Jaime King in ivory Calvin Klein. Working a bouffant that put one in mind of Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, Blake Lively was gorgeous in a bronze beaded minidress by Michael Kors, while Emmy Rossum too made a great choice with a pleated chiffon gown in muted lime and accented with black beading by Gilles Mendel for his fall/winter 2014 J. Mendel collection. Both Lively and Rossum were accompanied by the designers of their dresses, always the norm at this event.

Zac Posen turned up with Greta Gerwig, who wore a sleek tangerine crepe column gown with front draping from Posen’s fall/winter 2014 show.

“He chose me, and I was thrilled, because I’ve been a fan of his for so long,” Gerwig said when asked about working with Posen. “Living in New York, we have a lot of mutual friends; so many filmmakers I know also know Zac, and he always felt like someone I’d get along really well with, so it’s exactly as it should be.”

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Monique Lhuillier, meanwhile, said she loved working with Chanel Iman, who wore a beaded black gown with an open back from Lhuillier’s fall/winter 2014 collection, because she appreciated the idea that they’re both L.A. women. “Chanel is so gorgeous and such a great person overall, and to me a great representative of a gorgeous L.A. girl, and as an L.A. designer I really liked that idea,” Lhuillier said. “Of course, the fact that she looks amazing in the dress, from the second she put it on, also made that an easy decision.”

Without question, the night belonged to the nearly nude singer who hit the red carpet after everyone else – her look was a little Gatsby and a little Jean Harlow, but given the sheer audacity, it was all Rihanna. “She marches to her own beat, and she takes risks, and that should be applauded,” Posen said. “She came to my studio before her first album came out, and I’ve always loved working with her. Watching her has been, and I think always will be, nothing less than amazing.”