Pop fashion is hard to pin down. Trends seem to come and go faster than a Pepsi endorsement. Lady Gaga’s red meat dress literally turned stale. Rita Ora is almost too impossibly glam to be real, while Cardi B and Nicki Minaj seem to be vying for their own cartoon show.
Then there’s Rihanna. A lover, like us, of the leather outfit.
Her look changes as much as her musical direction. She even has a reggae album, referred to as R9 by her fans, due at the end of 2019. But through the years, one thing’s stayed the same: the leather wardrobe we all wish we had. Rihanna’s leather looks are timeless and exquisite.
It was the first megahit for the 19-year-old singer, who was straying beyond her Barbadian roots on Good Girl Gone Bad, the album you couldn’t escape in 2007. ‘Umbrella’ remains her coup de grace: the set closer, the anthem, and the reason a thousand teenagers were kicked off their school buses for singing along too loudly.
The video’s aesthetic is at least as iconic as the track itself. And a large part of that is the leather plunge dress with matching black hat. As she twirls in the rain, we see how she could always flip between several identities – the flapper girl, the prom queen, and when she dons a leather skirt for the first chorus, a woman of impeccable power.
The Immortal red carpet
Music videos are good, but a premiere is showmanship in the flesh; you can’t fake it. Rihanna’s visit to The Immortal World Tour theater show in 2012 proved that she could be more badass than the entire cast, crew and guestlist put together.
She was snapped in a studded leather biker jacket with maze-like patterns on the arms. Below, black pants clove to her thighs, while gold necklaces sparked fiercely off the dark materials. Rihanna’s leather look only served to tighten her leather-clad grip on the wardrobe hall of fame.
Rihanna’s leather look isn’t just about attitude though. She can get behind something other than a mic stand. In 2014, she founded her own charity – the Clara Lionel Foundation – to aid impoverished countries, created a special t-shirt for Hard Rock Café and went to Paris for the launch party.
True to form, a high-collared black jacket and matching mini skirt gave her an air of perceptible fortitude, gleaming in the lights of the paparazzi. No one could forget how strong, sleek and confident she looked. Cross-strung heeled boots rounded off her statement of intent.
Even now, Rihanna still confounds style-watchers – and hangovers. Fresh off a taped drinking session with Seth Meyers, Rihanna’s presentation slot at the BET Awards (to Mary J. Blige, no less) went off without a hitch. Some of that could be down to her clothes, which soaked in a lot of the attention.
You need to see this jacket. The cut is trim at the waist and shoulders. Her sleeves, by contrast, puff out. Again, she has no qualms about staying in leather trousers for hours. It must be something to do with her kinesthetic routine…
Another Rihanna album means one thing – another style phase. Whether reggae overtones spill into her stage getup remains to be seen, but she’ll doubtlessly return to her favorite, leather-bound look for social events. Judging by this list, we’ve a lot to look forward to.