rihanna ny times interview fenty
T magazine / Kristin-Lee Moolman

Rihanna has made history by becoming the first black woman to lead a major luxury fashion house. After recently announcing the joint venture with LVMH, the 31-year-old entertainer and businesswomen has gotten together with The New York Times' T magazine to share a first look at her inaugural Fenty clothing collection, all while discussing the line, the future of fashion, and her new album.

Those eager to purchase pieces from Rih's debut Fenty collection will be able to do so beginning May 24 at a pop-up in Paris. The range will then be available online on May 29.

During her recent interview with T magazine, Rihanna dove into collaborating with LVMH, being the first black woman to run a major luxury fashion house, opening doors for other designers, Fenty's first collection, and her current inspirations. She also addressed her much-anticipated new album, which she says will be a reggae project, and the possibility of collaborating once again with Drake, as well as Lady Gaga.

See below for the standout excerpts from Rihanna's informative interview with T magazine, then be sure to visit the publication's website to read the entire piece.

On collaborating with LVMH:

"I’ve been slowly evolving throughout the fashion world. First wearing it, buying it, being recognized for my style and then collaborating with brands. I never just wanted to put my name on something and sell my license. I’m very hands-on, so I wanted to take it slowly and gain respect as a designer."

"I already had a relationship with them after the Versailles campaign and the makeup line, so they extended the offer to me and it was a no-brainer because LVMH is a machine. Bernard Arnault was so enthusiastic; he trusted me and my vision."

On being the first black woman to run a major luxury fashion house:

"I didn’t even know that until months into our relationship, when Jahleel brought it to my attention. And I’m like, 'Are you sure about that? Did you do your research? ’Cause I don’t wanna state a claim that’s [expletive].' Because I still couldn’t believe it. It made me feel proud."

On always looking ahead to the next thing:

"I didn’t have these dreams when I was little. I had a dream of making music; that’s it. I didn’t even think about the fame part, and then that happened, and it’s like, 'Do I really like this? How much do I really love music that I’m dealing with this?' Then the one-hit-wonder comment came straight out of the gate and that put a fire under my ass, and I just never stopped working."

"Every time it was about challenging myself: I have to do better, I have to do better. And what’s next, what’s next? I won a Grammy and that was seconds into my past as soon as it got into my hands. I have to think about the next thing, which is terrible because people should live in the moment. I just started branching out into different creative outlets. That’s what makes me happy."

On learning from failure with Fenty:

"It’s the beginning of a new world. Everything was a collaboration, so I’ve plugged my DNA into theirs, but there was already a blueprint. I’m learning so much: about the tailoring, the fabric — I’m seeing fabrics that I’ve never seen in my life."

On the Fenty person’s relationship to masculinity and femininity:

"I use myself as the muse. It’s sweatpants with pearls, or a masculine denim jacket with a corset. I feel like we live in a world where people are embracing every bit of who they are. Look at Jaden Smith, Childish Gambino. They dare you to tell them not to."

On being a partier:

"There has been quite an evolution in that party. In the beginning, it was just my culture, my life. And now, the party, believe it or not, is at work. I do not go out. I will go to a dinner. I try to have as much fun as I can during work. And even after work, when I’m literally in my kitchen having a drink, I invite all my staff. And we work, still."

On her staff becoming like family:

"I see them more than my family and spend most of my life with them. It becomes friendship first, and then it leads into family because we lean on each other. I’m sure it’s really different from any other boss-employee relationship."

On using Fenty as the brand name:

"It made me think, 'I’m not going to do this, because you lose your respect and credibility,' and so every collaboration I did outside of music, I used Fenty so that you didn’t have to hear the word 'Rihanna' every time you saw something that I did. So Rihanna stayed the music, the person. But these other brands are called Fenty."

On opening doors for other black, brown, and female designers:

"I like to think of my establishment at the Fenty house as a hub. So I am always looking at grad collections, who’s about to leave college, who wants a year here. And we’ve done that with a couple young designers and a couple new ones that are coming in."

"Even if you’ve never designed something in your life, you might have impeccable taste: I’m welcoming everyone’s vision here, because that’s what it’s gonna take. I can’t just think I know everything. I’m very smart with my control freak — a smart control freak. I welcome other people’s expertise. I love new, young talent."

On the freedom to be herself:

"Even within being Rihanna, that freedom didn’t exist for a while. 'Good Girl Gone Bad' is where I started to take the reins: 'I’m going to do whatever I want to do, I’m taking control of my vision, my sound, my clothes.' I also embraced change along the way — things that make me a better woman, a better human being. Like, even the way I communicate: I’m really proud of my growth on that. I’m proud to walk into any building as this person. Nothing about me makes me embarrassed about me."

On collaborating with Lady Gaga:

"It’s not in the books right now, but I’m not against it."

On collaborating with Drake again:

"Not anytime soon, I don’t see it happening. Not on this album, that’s for sure."

On possible names for her new album:

"So far it’s just been R9, thanks to the Navy. I’m about to call it that probably, ’cause they have haunted me with this 'R9, R9, when is R9 coming out?' How will I accept another name after that’s been burned into my skull?"

On having 40 distinct shades in the first run of Fenty Beauty:

"In my own household, my father is half black, half white. My mom is black from South America. I was seeing diversity. That’s all I knew. Growing up, I wanted to be darker, always. So, making makeup, it wasn’t even a thing I had to think about."

"I didn’t even really know how bad it was, the void in the market for dark foundation, because all I’d seen was black women put makeup on. I don’t even think 40 shades is enough! And so I added 10 more recently, and we’re not gonna stop there."

On the change in her figure:

"It just changed how I dress in terms of my proportions. You wear what looks good on you and that’s it. I’m thick and curvy right now, and so if I can’t wear my own stuff then, I mean, that’s not gonna work, right? And my size is not the biggest size. It’s actually closer to the smallest size we have: We go up to a [French size] 46. We’re saying we can meet you at any one drop that we put out."

On Fenty's monthly drops:

"People are always looking for the thing that hasn’t made it online yet. And as a consumer, I hate seeing something on the runway and then having to wait six months for it. I had to wait all that time to get it."

"So with this, you see it, you love it, you can have it. I want to be as disruptive as possible. The brand is not traditional. There is no runway show. It’s a new way of doing things because I believe that this is where fashion is going to go eventually."

On Fenty's first release:

"Really strong and edgy, compared to the drop right after, which is a little more feminine. But the first one, there are a lot of classic pieces as well."

On her current inspirations:

"Free postcards or booklets at hotels in Barbados from years ago: You’ll see some of those on our T-shirts. There are also these prints that look like really ancient paintings that we’re making dresses and skirt suits out of."

On what to pair with Fenty:

"I don’t care what you pair it with. Whatever you want. You know, when I was younger, I couldn’t afford everything, but a pair of Timberlands: That was my Dior. And I had to save my money for a whole school year to get those Timberlands that I wanted, and I did it."

"Shoot, if your closet is full of Dior, go for it, put Fenty on with that. But you might have some Balenciaga sneakers and a Fashion Nova fit that my jacket is super lit with."

On feeling like an outsider in fashion due to being a black woman:

"You’re going to be black wherever you go. And I don’t know if it’s unfortunate or fortunate, because I love being black. So, sorry for those who don’t like it — that’s the first thing you see before you even hear my voice."

"There are also other factors: I’m young. I’m new to the family. I’m a woman. Those factors do come into play, but I will not apologize for them, and I will not back down from being a woman, from being black, from having an opinion. I’m running a company and that’s exactly what I came here to do. I don’t know if it makes people uncomfortable or not, but that’s not even my business, you know? I do know that the reason I’m here is not because I’m black. It’s because of what I have to offer. That’s what they’re invested in. And the fact that I’m black is just that: a fact."

On her mother being proud of her:

"When I told her about LVMH, she just couldn’t believe it. She said, 'Oh God, glory, glory to God.' She’s so proud, so happy, and she’s still pinching herself. She carries my makeup in her store in Barbados. It’s full circle, because she was the one who brought me into the department store after school — all that makeup, it was fun."

On the possibility of acting more:

"I’ll probably try a little more, but not until I know I can handle a lead and carry a movie on my own, because I’ve been offered. I’m always like, 'Guys, thank you for trusting me, but Angelina Jolie is over there.'"

On her feelings on working with LVMH and Arnault:

"I got this pressure to not let Arnault down. I felt like this is a moment in history that I have to live up to. This is my one shot and I only get one time to do it and it can’t be wrong."

On making money from her many endeavors:

"The money means that I can take care of my family. The money means that I can facilitate the businesses that I want to. I can create jobs for other people. My money is not for me; it’s always the thought that I can help someone else or, in the future, for if I have kids."

"The world can really make you believe that the wrong things are priority, and it makes you really miss the core of life, what it means to be alive. It could literally be walking outside in the sun. That makes me happy. Like going to the grocery store — you know, there’s a cute little Jamaican market near where I live right now."

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