rihanna’s new puma collection, phresh out the runway
Rihanna is queen, and one of her royal appointments is as the women's creative director and global ambassador for Puma. As with everything she does, she carries out this duty to regal standards while making it look like the most fun you could ever imagine having. When you see Rihanna wearing the black suede Puma creepers she designed, you know it's because she truly loves them and because she rightly knows they are fire. It makes you love them too.
At the runway show for her first full Puma by Rihanna clothing collection last night, Rihanna's sovereign power was clearer than ever. Seated around a mirrored podium in a cavernous former J.P. Morgan building on Wall Street were Anna Wintour, Travi$ Scott, Young Thug, and a Naomi Campbell (head-to-toe white fur), who Rihanna later kissed. Smoke drifted moodily between black- and white-painted tree trunks across runway as people prepared their iPhones.
The clothes delivered the same punch as Rihanna's finest musical efforts; they were pop-y but fierce and unabashedly sexy. They were also as sportswear-inspired as the collaboration implies. If you were in any doubt that oversized hooded sweatshirts are the defining look of contemporary fashion, this collection was proof.
The silhouettes stayed close to Puma's athletic roots — boxing shorts, sports bras, sweatpants — but the proportions were turned up to eleven. Graphic-adorned sweatshirts ended well below the waist and hands, leaving the models trailing their sleeves as they pounded the runway with Rihanna-worthy ferocity. Laced white boxing boots extended high above the knee and met hemlines at the thigh (eliminating the need for pants). Baggy track pants, poppers unfastened up the sides, hung loose over lace-up leggings.
The counterpoint to this extravagance of fabric — see: giant chunky faux-fur coats, voluminous sheer pullovers covered in Japanese characters, floor-sweeping kimono jackets — was skin. Bare legs (up to the butt) complimented chunky platform creepers, and one male model wore a rosary-turned-harness in place of a shirt. Bella Hadid, looking vampirical, her hair slicked back with white paint, modeled a tight black bodysuit that laced up the front in a sinuous curve, leaving generous amount of flesh on show.
Beyond sportswear, the collection's touchstone was Japanese street culture. The recurring tracksuit elements and traditional symbols gave powerful Kill Bill vibes. "It's Japanese street culture with a haunting twist," Rihanna explained in a statement. "I wanted to take Puma to a new place with something unpredictable and unexpected."
And as Gigi Hadid led the finale march over the shining black runway, the models strutting in pointy needle-heeled boots and glowering from under billowing hoods, it was clear this was certainly not a place Puma had been before. This is Rihanna's world and we are all just living in it.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Getty Images for FENTY PUMA