Saturday, 23 February 2013

Review: Rihanna x River Island Collection

High street brands and superstar collaborations have become something of a trend within recent years, with Kate Moss inspiring a Topshop line and Madonna’s partnership with H&M, Rihanna too joined the band wagon.

Since the debut of Rihanna’s first ever fashion line with the U.K. chain River Island it has been swarmed with bad reviews from fashion critics calling it a “horror show”, “slutty” and “porny”, it has been named uninspired, underwhelming and unattractive.
Rihanna is known for her penchant of the Ninties, with a dose of sport-luxe and River Island provided a platform for the superstar’s designs to sell, and it being one of the only high street brands that most closely relates to the stars personal style. Her style is a mix between slick and streetwise, urban and uber-luxe and I hoped the collection would reflect this.

It was a first for high street brand River Island as they showed during London Fashion Week – not only that, but they announced the most anticpated collaboration of the year. A series of models walked around a huge multi-level stage rocking pieces from 
Rihanna’s Spring collection for River Island.

The nine minute show, held in a abandoned central London post office, started an hour late – including a brief appearance by the star herself. It wasn’t difficult to see why the show wasn’t critically beloved, but there is no denying Rihanna’s influence was clearly visible, from the belly chains to the see-through mesh tops to the high slit skirts. In fact, a large part of the problem may be that the only person who can pull these clothes off is Rihanna herself. The collection seemed like an ode to Eighties Norma Kamili meets Alexander Wang sports luxe.

From a palette perspective the collection features dark hues with a bit of sunshine yellow and scarlett thrown in. Island inspired florals and prints, which are perfect for spring/summer.
Celebrity collections are always warrant a side eye  as you never know fully how much creative input Rihanna actually had, according to Vogue UK the the singer worked with designer Adam Selman via e-mails and phonecalls and attended fittings after the samples were made , but as it has Rihanna’s name on it is guaranteed to fly off shelves.

There have been many grumbles in the fashion industry about celebrities who turn their hand willy-nilly to designing clothes, and can be an overnight success. This hampers up-and-coming, skilled fashion-degree designers from making it in the industry or at the very least, diminishes the sense of expertise behind creating fashion.

Even before Rihanna unveiled her collection for River Island at London Fashion week, there were some who did not look favourably at allowing a popstar to hijack an event which is supposed to be about celebrating creativity, passion and original thinking in fashion. Which when it comes to celebrities there is not a lot of designing by them involved. The British Fashion Council tried to ofstand the raising eyebrows by saying Rihanna was not part of the “official” LFW line up. Unlike Katie Holmes’ Holmes & Yang line and Victoria Beckham’s critically-acclaimed collections that occupied respected slots on the schedule, which put Rihanna’s clothes were already at a disadvantage before the show even started.

Giles Deacon, told the Times: “I can understand the high street brands wanting to have visibility, but London fashion week’s integrity rests on it showcasing the best of the UK’s design talent. It would be dangerous if this became compromised due to scheduling issues.”

Which seems like a very polite way of saying its not fair for the Highstreet and a pop star to takeover and steal the limelight from real designers. Her show began an hour late and conflicted with designer Thomas Tait’s time slot.

Rihanna’s creations have been said to be ‘characteristically simple’, ‘crack whore chic’ and slutty, just like her.’ Which is sad considering her style is revered by so many young women. Yet the Nineties references (nipple-baring mesh dresses and Baywatch with bikini line revealing red bathing suit have proved too much for her young audience.

Rihanna’s collection failed. With see-through dresses, cheap-o knits and poorly designed denim, it makes me wonder how the co-designer Adam Selman fit in. Did he really approve of this stuff or was he just happy to work with a superstar?

I can see where she was going with this collection she was trying to channel that comfy girly-yet-grunge-sports luxe look but unfortunately instead we got nipple-baring, crotch-flashing mesh outfits and bra tops, the collection featured a lot of bare flesh from exposed navels and skirts with slits slashed up to the waist. These aren’t exactly what a stylish girl wants to throw on a casual night out. Considering the collection was targeted at her younger audience it is not what I would consider suitable for the average teen.

Rihanna told Elle: “I love the high street shops. The stylish kids on the street, they’re the ones that set the trends. The designers all want to see what they’re doing and they go out and design their line and sell it back to the same kids and it’s like: who not go directly to the source? I find in the high street shops they pay more attention to the street fashion than what’s going on in high fashion. And they turn stuff around pretty quickly.’

Although the collection did have quite a bit of bare flesh she did include some seriously elegant maxi dresses, dip-hemmed shirts.

One issue I had with the show were the models, either the models were too skinny or the clothes were too big, but there was definitely an issue with fitting as some items like the maxi dresses that are supposed to cling onto your body just hung on the models.  Considering this is a high street collection having really skinny models makes the clothes less wearable considering the typical River Island customer isn’t a six foot bag of bones.
Despite that, the prices are really good, River Island have not pushed up the prices just because they have Rihanna’s name on it.

Call me a prude but overall I think the collection is just too revealing some may say slutty yet a bit safe and boring. The whole thing was a little too heavy on the nineties vibe, it doesn’t get more literal than Baywatch-inspired red one piece. In all honesty the collection is just not for me it’s too raunchy and the weird aspects of street style incorporated into the collection are just weird and not wearable. I was hoping for a more We Found Love vibe, with the tartan and flared denim skirts, something young and wearable.

I don't want to jump on the bash Rihanna bandwagon. I love her music. But she puts the exclamation point on the whole celeb designer trend. Why do we keep hyping these things up?

I’m a fan of Rihanna’s style she has the right mix between sporty/sexy mix that finds her one day in Timbs and jeans, and another in a skin clinging spaghetti strapped dress and simple ankle strap heels. But I think she should reconsider her ‘career’ as a designer.

That being said here are few pieces I like e.g the maxi skirts, maxi dresses, the boots and the backpack. Check them out on:

Rihanna for River Island is available at River Island stores and online on March 5, 2013. 

What do you guys think of the collection?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Actually, I like her collection!