LVMH, Rihanna Find Love In A Hopeful Partnership Named Fenty

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton formally announced its partnership with Robyn Rihanna Fenty on Friday, confirming reports in January about the new “luxury Maison” that will be named Fenty and be based in Paris. It will debut later this month with ready-to-wear clothing, shoes and accessories. 



“The 31-year-old singer becomes the first person since 1987 to launch a new house with LVMH (the last person was Christian LaCroix). Rihanna is also reportedly the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH and the first woman of color at the top of an LVMH maison,” writes the AP’s Mesfin Fekadu.

“LVMH’s leather and goods division includes Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior Couture, Celine, Kenzo, Givenchy, Fendi, Marc Jacobs and more, while its wine and spirts includes Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon. The company has also backed Rihanna’s ultra-successful cosmetics brand, Fenty Beauty,” Fekadu adds.

“The move to invest in a new fashion house comes as LVMH runs out of M&A targets in its key fashion and leather division. American challengers like Michael Kors parent Capri Holdings Ltd. and Coach owner Tapestry Inc., Chinese groups Fosun International Ltd. and Shandong Ruyi, private equity funds and the Qatari royal family have all scrambled to buy European luxury labels, pushing up asset prices. Families controlling prestigious brands like Hermes and Chanel have resisted putting their companies up for sale,” write Robert Williams and Eric Pfanner for Bloomberg.

Even more game-changing, “the move is a formal acknowledgment from the establishment that a multi-hyphenate pop star/actress/image-maker now has as much global currency, name-recognition and (yes) influence as designers like Hedi Slimane and Nicolas Ghesquière. That there is no need to limit them to the street or sportswear world. And that growth in the luxury industry may no longer come just from reinventing old heritage names, but by embracing a new diverse, digital, direct communication-enabled reality,” observes Vanessa Friedman for the New York Times.

“Rihanna’s proximity to LVMH stretches back to at least 2015. After attending shows for Christian Dior, one of Arnault’s most treasured fashion properties, she appeared in ‘Secret Garden IV,’ a campaign and short film shot by Steven Klein inside Versailles. It featured her in Dior sunglasses, carrying the brand’s bags and wearing looks from the Esprit Dior collection,” according to a WWD staff report in the Los Angeles Times.

“A year later, she created a range of futuristic sunglasses in collaboration with Dior as part of her brand ambassadorship. Earlier this year, she test drove a pair with her Fenty brand splashed across the temples, dropping a colossal hint about the upcoming project with LVMH,” the report continues.

“It’s a big moment for the exclusive world of luxury fashion, says Tanisha Ford, an associate professor of Africana studies at the University of Delaware. Ford, who writes about fashion and black identity, says, ‘We see a woman of color with this much creative control in a luxury market where typically European men have dominated,’” says NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro. 

“For centuries, luxury fashion has reflected a lifestyle enjoyed by very few people, she says, ‘so by nature it wasn't in a market that was designed for everyday people of color to participate in it,”' Garcia-Navarro continues.

“This is far from the ‘We Found Love’ singer’s first foray into the fashion space. Over the course of her career thus far, Rihanna has put her stylish stamp on everything from sunglasses to socks, launching collaborations with existing brands and creating entirely new ones of her own,” the New York Post points out in the introduction to a 12-slide gallery of her creations and collaborations dating back to 2011. 

“LVMH is intertwined with the fashion zeitgeist of the moment,” says Mickey Alam Kahn, editor-in-chief of Luxury Daily, pointing to the choice of Virgil Abloh as design director for Louis Vuitton as another sign of the future direction of LVMH, Pamela N. Danziger writes for Forbes.

“This tells us where LVMH wants to position its product -- to appeal to the younger affluent, more-with-it customers who take cues from casualwear and the street for comfort with style and exclusivity,” Alam Kahn says.

And customers who, as the WWD piece points out, get their information “mainly via digital channels” such as the new Fenty Instagram account Rihanna pointed to on her Badgirlriri feed Friday. It had no posts as of this morning, but had already acquired more than 238,000 followers.

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