Commentary

LVMH, Rihanna Discuss Launching Fenty Luxury House

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Rihanna have been talking about launching a luxury fashion label using her Fenty brand, sense of style, social media savvy and millions of followers to make a ready-to-wear splash. Women’s Wear Daily broke the story about the “secret talks” yesterday and the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman confirmed the late-stage discussions with a lede that asks: “Is Rihanna the Coco Chanel of the 21st century?”

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It would be the first fashion brand the parent company of Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci, Fendi and more than 60 other “distinguished Houses” has launched from scratch since Christian Lacroix in 1987.

“LVMH has already handpicked a clutch of employees from within, including some from Louis Vuitton and Celine, to work on the project in tandem with Rihanna and some of her key associates, sources said,” the unsigned WWD piece reports.

“The combination of Fenty and LVMH will be the clearest expression yet of how celebrity, social media and influencers have redefined the power balance between culture and consumption, changing the way brands of all kinds relate to their audience,” the NYT’s Friedman writes.

“It is not insignificant that despite the number of well-known and respected designers currently unemployed in the fashion world, including Alber Elbaz, Stefano Pilati and Peter Copping, the dominant luxury group decided to put its money where a pop star was,” she continues.

Rihanna’s “public appearances generally stir the paparazzi, and her fans, into a frenzy, with outfits ranging from sultry off-the-shoulder styles to streetwear to, at the Met Ball, show-stopping numbers that are the highlight of the occasion. In May, for example, she wore a Maison Margiela crystal-encrusted gown and bolero jacket, complete with a hat resembling a bishop’s mitre,” WWD observes.

“Rihanna has already proven her mastery at dominating most consumer markets, from her sportswear collaboration with Puma to her inclusive beauty line and body-positive lingerie collection,” Emily Kirkpatrick points out for Page Six. “Leave it to Rihanna to find a brand-new way to take all our money,” she concludes.

“Very few celebrities have made the lucrative transition to head high-end fashion labels. There's Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's The Row, Victoria Beckham's eponymous line and U2 frontman Bono co-founded the Kate Middelton-loving brand, EDUN in 2005 which eventually sold to LVMH in 2009 and sold back in 2018,” writes  AOL.com's Laura Galvin. 

“The ‘Love on the Brain’ singer might have several fashion collaborations under her belt … however the success of her Fenty Puma line has exceeded all expectations of a celebrity branded partnership,” she adds.

“It certainly seems like everything Rihanna has touched turns to gold, so it’s no surprise that LVMH would be interested in adding her talents to their stable of blue-chip brands,” Tyler McCall concurs for Fashionista.

Meanwhile Rihanna on Tuesday filed a trademark suit against her father, Ronald Fenty, in federal court in Los Angeles.

“Rihanna, 30, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, alleges in the suit against Ronald Fenty and his business partner, Moses Joktan Perkins, the two men ‘have egregiously and fraudulently misrepresented to third parties and the public that their company, Fenty Entertainment, LLC, is affiliated with Rihanna, and has the authority to act on her behalf,'” NBC News’ Janelle Griffith reports.

The singer claims that she has used the name for her cosmetics brand and other businesses since 2012. Fenty Entertainment, a talent and production company, was founded in 2017.

According to the FAQ on the Fenty website, “Before she was BadGalRiRi: music, fashion and beauty icon, Robyn Rihanna Fenty was a little girl in Barbados transfixed by her mother’s lipstick. The first time she experienced makeup for herself, she never looked back. Makeup became her weapon of choice for self-expression -- a way to radiate her ever-changing mood -- and it powered a fearless take on beauty that helped her become the boundary-breaking icon she is today.”

Rebecca Bengal traced Rihanna’s evolution as a fashion trendsetter -- one able “to do highbrow and lowbrow fashion with equal aplomb” -- in a piece for Pitchfork last June.

“Rihanna’s most radical act as an artist is her ability to own her fame, to make her autonomy not only creatively daring but commercially viable. Her albums become more unpredictable; her outfits grow bolder. And, as she takes more artistic gambles, she invites her fans to follow suit and take their own risks. She connotes courage and confidence; she reminds them they’re beautiful,” Bengal writes.

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