Adam Selman and Mel OttenbergRihanna is one lucky designer: After debuting her first collection for River Island at London Fashion Week, the pop star's creations were picked up by Opening Ceremony. But that's not all-the boutique's NYC location has created an exhibit dedicated to RiRi's bold style, and last night, we were there to see a first look at it and also chat with her stylist, Mel Ottenberg, and design partner, Adam Selman. RIHtrospective: Seven Rihanna Fashion Moments features mannequins outfitted in seven top looks worn by Rihanna. And seven is definitely her golden digit: It's the amount of Grammy awards she's won and it's the number of albums she has released.
"This was ready to happen," said Ottenberg, who has been working with Rihanna since 2011, of the decision to create a ready-to-wear line. "We were already talking about clothes all the time, and doing a million looks in such a fast and furious way, that it felt great to do this."The racks were stacked with her River Island pieces-cropped tops knotted at the side, relaxed jersey dresses with sexy slits, and double-layer jeans, all ranging from $45 to $350.
"We love those modern girls who were inspired by the '90s... with a hint of Baywatch," said Selman of the influences behind the collection.
"People in music are the tastemakers and things trickle down," he explained, noting the important role music icons have in defining fashion trends. For his first full collection (he hopes to show his own independent line come fall), he focused on creating clothes that could be worn with ease. For Selman, working with Rihanna and Ottenberg was the perfect chemistry.
"We all have the same idea of what 'chic' is at the moment, as much as I hate that word," he said. "It is more about the woman and the ease and beauty. A woman [should] wear a dress as opposed to the dress wearing her.""It is very collaborative," Ottenberg agreed. "But she has great style, and she is not a mass-produced creation of me."
As if on queue, an army of mannequins in the center of the room vibrated slightly as Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)" track blasted through the space. Each figurine sported one of her most iconic outfits-from the silver dog-tag Jeremy Scott flapper dress worn for her 2011 Loud tour to the camouflage-print Opening Ceremony dress peeking out from the cover of Talk That Talk (2011).
"You never know, you can make something off the rack look amazing, it doesn't have to be haute couture or custom-made," Ottenberg reflected; he had selected the camouflage dress from these very racks, now hung with PVC raincoats.
Photo: Courtesy of Billy Farrell AgencyFor Ottenberg, the most important element in crafting a look is finding pieces that feel comfortable and move well, which comes from really knowing Rihanna and understanding her as a person. Both Ottenberg and Rihanna are jet setters who share texts of the different influences they come across while traveling. Most recently, Ottenberg visited the Paris atelier of Azzedine Alaïa to choose the ethereal red dress Rihanna wore to the 2013 Grammy Awards. Currently, Ottenberg and Selman are putting the finishing touches on the costuming for Rihanna's world tour, which kicks off this Friday in Buffalo, New York."I am always in a million places doing a million different things, but I like that," Ottenberg said.
The RIHtrospective: Seven Rihanna Fashion Moments will be up until the end of March, and the Rihanna for River Island line is available at riverisland.com and Opening Ceremony stores, starting today.
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