Rihanna covers a lot of magazines, but I never find myself fatigued and that’s because she continues to raise the bar, pushing past pretty pictures and aiming for something more interesting. Let’s be honest, she’s going to look stunning no matter what, so she might as well give us something unique and her latest spread is just that. For ESSENCE, she’s collaborating with Lorna Simpson, a multimedia artist, who’s celebrated for reimagining vintage images of Black women in modern art. The result of this collaboration is a series of original collages, reinterpreting beauty, for the Jan/Feb 2021 cover and an accompanying twelve page portfolio entitled Of Earth & Sky.
Before the new issue is released next week, a handful of the art pieces have been revealed along with the cover and they all invoke different moods. What’s your favourite one? Right now, I’m loving “BIVALVE,” where Rihanna appears to be inside a larger-than-life seashell.
I’m not in love with the cover, but that’s probably because I’m basic. This cover is probably too cool for me but I can understand why they chose it; it certainly sticks out on a newsstand among a sea of fashion magazines with pretty interchangeable covers. Shouldn’t every fashion magazine be pushing the envelope like this? We shouldn’t all think every Vogue cover is pretty. We should often have to pick it up and take a minute to process a new aesthetic being introduced to us. Avant-garde not après garde. I thought this tweet about Ms. Wintour was spot on.
It was Rihanna’s creative director, Jahleel Weaver who first pitched the idea for this collab, but Rihanna says she wasn’t sure at first because she didn’t think she’d be able to get Lorna. Who’s going to say no to Rihanna?! Lorna herself called the experience “quite incredible.” As an artist who’s used to recontextualizing images of Black women from old magazines, who were the standard of beauty during eras gone by, I can only imagine getting the chance to create using your own photographs of a world-famous Black woman, and one of the current standards of beauty. And shoutout to Rihanna (and Jahleel Weaver!) for giving Lorna this kind of platform. She is an accomplished and award-winning artist, but often the art world can be monolithic and the list of artists who achieve some recognition outside their artistic community, in the mainstream, are often even less diverse.
I noticed in the ESSENCE piece that they described Rihanna as the Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin founder. Gone are the days of Rihanna the singer, or the artist, or even multi-hyphenate. She’s a businesswoman first and foremost, and one of her many companies is entering its busiest season. On Wednesday she triggered the one-month countdown to Valentine’s Day with some sizzling social media posts that have been reposted all over my timeline ever since and I’m not complaining. She really is her best advertisement.
“You’re not my only Valentine…” Is that an official Savage X Fenty marketing line, or is she just making sure A$AP Rocky doesn’t get too comfortable? Speaking with Vogue, she said it’s actually best practice to make Valentine’s Day about yourself.
“Do that thing that you love the most. Make it all about you and your boo will benefit. If it makes you feel good and makes you feel sexy, then just do it.”
We’ve got our marching orders.
For even more sexiness check out Miguel and his wife Nazanin Mandi for Savage X Fenty.