Why Rihanna Was Honored as the “Queen of Street Style” at Fashion Weeks in 2014?

Before Zendaya claimed the CFDA’s “Fashion Icon” title in 2021, before Doja Cat, Bella Hadid, or Julia Fox shook up the street style scene at every fashion week, all that glory belonged to Rihanna.

Why Rihanna Was Honored as the "Queen of Street Style" at Fashion Weeks in 2014?
Why Rihanna Was Honored as the “Queen of Street Style” at Fashion Weeks in 2014?

If you only knew Rihanna’s fame through photos of her strolling the streets in remarkable outfits, her pregnant belly, stepping out of a show, a prestigious red carpet with fiancé A$AP Rocky, or her iconic performance at Super Bowl 2023; perhaps you haven’t fully understood this Barbadian “diamond.” Since the mother of two decided to temporarily halt her music career at its peak to conquer another peak of fame in the beauty world with Fenty Beauty, fans have been lamenting and disappointed. Despite no longer appearing in front of the media to promote albums, Rihanna and her fashion looks have always been a hot topic of discussion in both the entertainment industry and the fashion world.

Why is Rihanna, who is always late to the most prestigious fashion shows or Met Gala red carpet, the most warmly welcomed? Perhaps it’s due to her significant contributions to the fashion world, from being the muse of famous designers to being a true “It-girl” or “trendsetter.” One of those contributions is her remarkable ability to attract every gaze from fans or the flashing lights eagerly awaiting Rihanna’s presence at every fashion week in 2014. The CFDA’s “Fashion Icon” award that year is a testament to this. Looking back at Rihanna’s fashion playfulness, the singer truly went all out. But Rihanna is not a rule-breaking “player”; instead, she creates a new game and sets her own rules for the fashion world.

From the legendary “naked dress” to bold interpretations of classic tweed from Chanel, Rihanna’s transparent outfits in 2014 accurately echoed her candid statement on stage at the CFDA that year – “She can beat me but she can’t beat my outfit.” Lanvin, Christian Dior, Comme des Garçons, Jean Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, Stella McCartney,… and even Chanel, Rihanna’s front-row presence made the fashion weeks of that year more vibrant and exciting than ever before. Not only on the red carpet but also at famous fashion shows, the name of the “Diamond” singer gained more weight on the fashion race track back then as she was invited by a series of famous brands to participate in their advertising campaigns. Rihanna became the face of Balmain’s Spring/Summer 2014 advertising campaigns. In an interview with the media, Olivier Rousteing (Balmain’s Creative Director) once equated Rihanna’s name with important things in his life. Earlier, Rihanna also participated in designing two collections for River Island and collaborated with the cosmetics brand MAC to create a lipstick line bearing her own mark.

In the fashion context at that time, Rihanna – a newly emerging fashion icon back then, also had to “compete” with many other celebrities with unique fashion styles, such as Lady Gaga. If Lady Gaga made waves in the fashion world with abstract, highly artistic appearances, Rihanna interpreted fashion in a more practical way, but still maintained her own uniqueness and personality. And behind the scenes, helping Rihanna not to be “defeated” on every comparison scale was longtime stylist Mel Ottenberg, along with the assistance of designer Adam Selman. Before becoming a stylist duo – the most famous star in the fashion world, Mel Ottenberg had polished Riri’s reputation with a stylish wardrobe on the “Loud” tour in 2011. At that time, every girl or fashion enthusiast was “crazy” about the singer. With years of experience working with major fashion magazines and prestigious fashion shows, Mel Ottenberg turned an “Island girl” from a remote island into a “Bad Gal Riri,” from a “Beyoncé clone” to a Rihanna with her own identity. Not only did Mel Ottenberg help Rihanna always present herself neatly in front of the public with expensive outfits, but he also created fashion stories with the singer that were rarely “told” in the fashion world. It was an interesting intersection of fashion, creativity, art, beauty, and music, between a shape-shifting “sorceress” and a beauty enthusiast who never ceased to experiment with herself.

Despite the increasingly bustling fashion race with the participation of a series of reputable “candidates” such as Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Doja Cat,… and Julia Fox making the internet explode with a nylon dress, the legend of “even wearing just a nylon bag still looks beautiful” about Rihanna is still spreading strongly in the fashion world. Rihanna’s image in 2014 remains an intriguing story both in the past and present, and is one of the most credible evidence for her timeless fashion icon status.

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