Rihanna presented her new Fenty x Puma collection in an intimate salon setting in Paris today, though legions of her fans across the globe tuned in to watch the live-stream on Tidal. Just minutes before the lights went up on the runway, as models such as Imaan Hammam, Taylor Hill, and Anwar Hadid milled about the hallways of the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild in 18th-century-inspired streetwear looks, the singer checked in with Vogue.com for an exclusive pregame interview. Here she talks candidly about her vision for Spring 2017, about how Versailles became a major source of inspiration, and why Marie Antoinette might be the most important bad gal muse of all time.
Tell us about the mood of the new collection.
It was definitely a departure from the first collection; that collection had a much darker tone to it, intentionally so. To me, Spring should feel like something fresh, even though I’m not going to stop wearing black altogether. But I didn’t want it to be super-bubbly, so I kept it a bit street—everything was super-sporty and definitely highly influenced by 18th-century French culture, and the style of that time, mainly Marie Antoinette, and the Palace of Versailles. She just had this regal way about her, and everything she did was big. I wanted to mix that in with sport. I thought it would be a challenge, and it was! But I enjoyed it, and I hope that people do, too.
Why did you choose to show your collection in Paris?
I chose Paris because I wanted people to feel the entire tone of the new collection. I wanted them to feel like this is what Marie Antoinette might wear to the gym, or play tennis in. I imagined it like that, and I hope people receive it in a fun way. The other challenge was having to design part of the collection for men. I ended up just going back to myself for that, because, you know, I wear men’s clothes all the time. So I thought to myself, “Just design what you like to wear.” Tonight it’s going to be a very salon-style show—very French—and that idea was inspired by those old Christian Dior shows from back in the day, when he would show in a small room. When I went to the Dior headquarters and heard the story of how Christian Dior used to show in those small spaces, it stunned me, because Dior is such a huge brand.
What are your first memories of Paris?
I remember a lot of Coca-Cola and a lot of chocolate! Not matter where I was, even in a radio station, they always offered chips, chocolate, and Coca-Cola. I would have been 16 or 17 at the time. But I remember the architecture being so incredible to look at—the fountains in the middle of roundabouts, the streets, the lampposts. Everything here is so beautiful, it never leaves you, even if you’ve only been to Paris once. The more you come, the more you learn about the culture. Eventually I was able to go to Versailles. We shot a Dior campaign there. I was blown away to be in the halls and the rooms that Marie Antoinette roamed through. Those things stay with you, and later go on to inspire things that you do. And that’s what happened with this collection.
If you could pick one song to describe this collection, what would it be?
Well, funnily enough, I can give you a sort of collabo of an answer on that because the soundtrack tonight is a combination of violins mixed with trap beats. To me, that represents this collection: It’s super-regal and a perfect mix of street- and sportswear.