In 2017 and 2018, pop star Rihanna released no songs at all. She did, however, launch forty different shades of makeup foundation and a line of bras in twenty-seven different sizes. With fourteen number one singles under her belt, perhaps music is no longer a priority. Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Barbados, and hit the limelight in 2007 with the single Umbrella. Since then she has established herself as one of the most admired and relatable celebrities in the world. Famously a victim of gender violence, she managed to overcome the ordeal, and came back stronger. Now, she uses her influence to cater to her fan base, while building a business empire in cosmetics and fashion.
Rihanna (Caribbean accent): From my experience I’ve always known about the void within the makeup industry for women of colour. And I felt like no woman should ever walk up to a makeup counter and not find their shade somewhere, and I just feel good that we’ve been able to bring this positive breakthrough to the industry. I thought more people would have filled this void by now but now I’m understanding that people are getting a little bit emotional at the counters. That makes me... it makes me happy and it makes me sad at the same time that it’s taken this long.
The idea to address the larger part of the population, women of skin tones who may have trouble finding the exact shade of makeup to suit them, was considered by Time magazine to be one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2017. Similarly, Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage X Fenty offers underwear and sleepwear in seven nude shades, plus sexy items in sizes ranging from XS to XXXL that are modelled by women with cellulitis and stretch marks. She spoke about her decision to do this:
Rihanna: I wouldn’t say that that was like a marketing plan that’s just my passion. I think that’s something that’s happened after we launched. I didn’t do it for the celebration, I did it because that’s how I genuinely feel. I feel like everybody should be included but it has become a celebration, it’s become like a movement.
Rihanna is set to break yet another barrier in the fashion industry; teaming up with luxury conglomerate LVMH to start her own fashion house. And she’s determined to succeed, as she explained:
Rihanna: I love to take risks, I love to do things that haven’t been done before. I just get passionate about creative ventures and if I love it, I’m gonna go all the way to the end about it.
For Rihanna, it is not merely a matter of lending her image and name. She actually likes to get involved. It’s not unusual to see her putting on the makeup of her fans at events around the world, and she even records her own YouTube tutorials where she offers tips on what she calls women’s “secret weapon.” When asked which part of a woman’s face is the most important to focus on, she responded:
Rihanna: Always lips, ‘cause lips are a great distraction from the eyes. Especially on a rainy day when they got dark circles or [you] feel really tired, people see lipstick and they assume you have on a full face of makeup. Especially guys, they’re stupid…