rihanna had no idea what ‘free the nipple’ was pre-cfda awards

'I have always freed the nipple.'

by i-D Staff and Hannah Ongley
24 March 2016, 4:20pm

It sounds difficult to believe that Rihanna was completely oblivious to the uproar she would cause when she stepped out on the red carpet wearing a completely sheer dress. But it's not difficult to believe that when being a feminist/fashion superhero comes this naturally, one probably doesn't give much thought to retrogressive trolls. That's pretty much what happened at the CFDA awards in 2014, when Rih changed the game of red carpet fashion forever simply by deciding her bra messed with the vibe of her Adam Selman gown. Indeed, when Vogue recently asked if her choice was a response to the viral 'Free the Nipple' movement, Bad Gal sounds almost confused about an exposed nipple being interpreted as sexual. Or worse, as a stunt.

"I have always freed the nipple," she said. "It was never to get attention. Never sexual. Never in desperation. The bra just fucked up my sheer shirt. I just wanted to be perfect and that's what I went with and I felt okay with that. And after a while, it became such a scandal and a 'horrible role model' thing. It was a topic of discussion, and eventually other girls started defending me. And now there's this whole 'Free the Nipple' movement."

It's rather endearing that Rih hadn't head of the movement pre-CFDAs, considering she's unconsciously been its figurehead for years. Just a few months before her iconic red carpet appearance Rihanna had her Instagram deleted for posting photos from a topless photo shoot. But there's a reason the most revealing piece on her Puma runway was a pair of opaque granny pants. Well, besides gauzy fabrics not being particularly conductive to athletic activity. Not wanting people to think she was just seeking attention, Rihanna told her crew, "From here on, we'll be back to clothes. Let's just put clothes on. Even if I don't want to. Make sure I put clothes on." 

And if the occasion for another sheer gown does arise, please make damn sure that she's wearing a bedazzled thong


Text Hannah Ongley

Free the Nipple
adam selman
cfda awards