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Rihanna on ‘Savage X Fenty Vol. 3’: “We Went Bigger, We Went Better”

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 9/24/2021 Evan Nicole Brown

On Friday, the third installment of Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show debuts exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. The prerecorded “fashion show,” which is more like an ensemble musical of choreographed modeling, special appearances and performances, was filmed at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles over the summer and is a continuation of the singer-turned-business mogul’s vision for an inclusive brand that celebrates diversity, body positivity, empowerment and the authenticity that blooms from standing in that power.

The cast of models and performers in this year’s show includes both newcomers and notable names alike: Nas, Ricky Martin, Adriana Lima, Erykah Badu, Gigi Hadid, Troye Sivan, Normani, Vanessa Hudgens and more. Rihanna, who served as executive producer and creative director of Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3, said that the partnership between her company and Amazon Prime Video was a fruitful one. “They gave me a platform and a stage to show this dynamic show that we’ve been able to put together,” the star told The Hollywood Reporter at Wednesday’s premiere event. “I think the challenge every year is to make it better than the previous one and this year we went bigger, we went better, and I’m very proud of every part of the show.”

According to Ukonwa Ojo, Amazon CMO, Rihanna executed a fresh but familiar vision this year. “I think what you’ll find is that it’s sexier this year, it’s more confident this year, and she really just leans into celebrating everybody. It’s a continuation of something she’s always believed in but she’s saying it more confidently this year.”

At The Glasshouse in Manhattan, Wednesday’s red carpet (rendered in Black to capture the vampiness of the night) was filled with stars like Tems, Duckie Thot and Ian Shugga and the afterparty was attended by musicians ASAP Rocky and Brent Faiyaz.

Screens of various sizes around the venue displayed the show, the sensuality of which was reflected in emerald green velvet loveseats, smoky pear and mezcal cocktails, and artificially-colored bouquets of flowers, so fluorescent they almost glowed in the dark.

Writer, performer and public speaker Alok Venom noted the merging of fashion and performance as a highlight. “She’s making fashion multidimensional,” they said. “And in terms of inclusivity, it doesn’t feel like its checking boxes, it’s so integrated. You see people of all different genders and there doesn’t need to be pomp and circumstance about it.”


Video: Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 Roundup (Instyle)

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Now in its third consecutive year, the Savage X Fenty experience signals a changing tide in the fashion industry as more brands are using creative visuals to replace the traditional runway. The COVID-19 pandemic and limitations surrounding in-person events reinforced this trend further; according to Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, COVID restrictions compromised how aspects of the show were shot. “We couldn’t have as many in person things like a big dress rehearsal, and so the compartmentalization of the vignettes that you see — all of that was designed in a way that would be safe for everybody,” she said.

“I feel like this is the modern runway. Everyone can participate, it’s so democratic — 240 countries are going to watch this,” Ojo said on the red carpet Wednesday night. “I love what [Rihanna] is doing where she’s bringing everyone into the story… everybody gets to be a part of it. Literally every. Body.”

Allie Weber, who wore Tyler McGillivary and Prada Wednesday night, said that modeling in the show was daunting given its scale but was comfortable nonetheless. “They made me feel beautiful and welcome every step of the way — from the fitting to the filming,” she said. “It was really incredible to be treated as an equal — both as somebody who’s newer in the industry and as a bigger girl because unfortunately that’s not usually the case.”

Nyja Abdullah, who also modeled in the show, said: “I manifested this, this is like my dream job since I started modeling. I was excited definitely, I’m still in shock right now.”

Volume three celebrates the latest lingerie collection from the brand, which features unique lace, leather, and lamé pieces in sizes ranging from 32-46 in bands, A-H in cups and up to XS-3X/XS-XXXL, which is a central part of the brand’s mission of body positivity more broadly. Said Rihanna: “If we invite a consumer, they’re never uninvited, we just try to figure out who did we not invite and try to expand on our inclusivity and what that means for us as a brand.” The partnership also includes a shoppable collection at both Savage X Fenty and in the Amazon Fashion store.

Terence J, an entertainment reporter best known as the former host of BET’s 106 & Park and previous co-anchor of E! News, celebrated Rihanna’s growth not only as a person but also as an entertainer and entrepreneur. “I did one of her first interviews when she was just a girl from Barbados trying to make it — to see her at a billion dollars, it’s inspirational to all of us. I’m so proud of her and so proud of how she represents us.”

When asked about the specific import of Savage X Fenty in the larger Fenty universe, and how her creativity sings differently with this business endeavor, Rihanna said: “I can’t do this at Fenty Beauty, I can’t do this at Fenty Skin. With this I get to unleash my inner savage and play. There’s nothing that’s off limits with this brand and that’s why I love to have fun with it.”

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