Last month, Rihanna teased her latest non-musical offering: the second annual Savage x Fenty runway show, which will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories, including the UK, on Friday, 20 September. The show was filmed on Tuesday night at Barclays Center, Brooklyn's sports arena. Refinery29 attended the event and while all phones were confiscated during the taping, we are pleased to report that the show is unlike anything you've seen before. The lingerie spectacle featured choreography, musical performances from Halsey, Migos, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Big Sean, A$AP Ferg, Tierra Whack, and Fabolous with appearances from your favourite supermodels. If you think this sounds like the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, except cooler, more inclusive and through a women's gaze, then you'd be correct.
"Women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves," Rihanna told Vogue in her May 2018 cover story. “I can only hope to encourage confidence and strength by showing lingerie in another light. [...] I want people to wear Savage x Fenty and think, I’m a bad bitch. I want women to own their beauty.” And will they ever.
Much like the VS Fashion Show, the actual lingerie pieces took a backseat to the theatrics. But that is where the similarities end. The show opened with our girl Rihanna winding her hips slow, surrounded by dancers wearing Savage x Fenty. Models like Cara Delevingne, Alex Wek, Aquaria, 21 Savage, Slick Woods, Normani, Paloma Elsesser, Christian Combs, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Laverne Cox and Joan Smalls walked beside dancers and models of all sizes.
Leave it to Rihanna to show beauty brands how to make a truly vast and inclusive makeup line, tip over to the luxury space to diversify that sector via her workings with LVMH, and then, as if she has not done enough for our quality of life, celebrate what it means to be a person who loves lingerie and just so happens to enjoy being in their own skin. Her mind. The innovation.
In the spirit of Rihanna championing confidence and body positivity, Refinery29 asked celebrity guests when they feel their sexiest. "You asking me that question," Cara Delevingne joked before answering: "Honestly, being backstage of the show and seeing all these women lifting each other up, it's such a nice energy. You can tell if someone is feeling self-conscious, but the women band together to try to make someone feel good."
Rapper Chika who famously stripped down to her skivvies for a Calvin Klein campaign said that simply existing in her body makes her feel sexy and so does thinking about her accomplishments. "All together, I'm the total package. Not to toot my own horn but just existing as me and being confident in that is the sexiest quality one can have," she said. Legendary stylist Misa Hylton feels sexy all the time. "I'm really tapped into who I am," she shared. "Every single day you should look in the mirror and say, I love you, yes I do." Hylton walked the carpet with rap artist Rhapsody, who says she feels sexiest when she "wakes up and puts on something fly." But, she clarifies, "anytime you're being yourself, that's where confidence comes from."
This time it was the men who had nothing to say. Bronx-native and rapper Fat Joe said he wasn't answering the question out of respect for his wife. Rapper A Boogie says it depends on his mood whether or not he feels sexy. "My sexiest," rapper Dave East parroted back to me. "I don't feel sexy." He did say however that he is most confident after he leaves the gym.
If you're still struggling to find your own sexy, Rihanna offered these kind words to me after her inaugural Savage x Fenty fashion show last year. "You cannot fake sexy.” She continues: “What you need to do is find it. If you’re not feeling sexy, there’s just a little rubble on top of it. You need to clear that shit out. Get to your sexy and own it. That shit is yours, regardless.”
Own your sexy was the overarching message of the show, which celebrated and centred women rather than catering to the male gaze. And Rihanna made sure to emphasise that sexy is not a body type, but a state of mind. "There are a lot of women out there who are feeling in the dark, invisible. 'I can't try that on because I'm not made like that,'" she told Business of Fashion. "This is where you feel safe, right here at Savage." The Savage x Fenty show will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories on Friday, 20 September.