Oh RiRi!

Rihanna (in Elie Saab) stars in Rihanna of Arabia by Ruven Afanador for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia June 2014 cover story. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR ARABIA/RUVEN AFANADOR

Rihanna just keeps getting better! Rihanna is the July cover star of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia- and it’s her most fabulous editorial to date! Photographer Ruven Afanador perfectly captures the Bajan chanteuse as an Arabian princess in this piece entitled “Rihanna of Arabia.” It’s a perfect fit for Rihanna, who’s resplendent in an incredible wardrobe of Middle Eastern-inspired couture by Dolce & Gabbana, Atelier Versace, Balenciaga, Ralph Lauren and more. There’s a lot of jewelry (it’s Cartier), plenty of rippling silk, an excess of fabulous sequins, embroidery and beadwork, but surprisingly… not much of Rihanna!

Rihanna appears in the July 2014 edition of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia in this one-of-a-kind couture gown by Michael Cinco and a sequined mask by Bradley Douglas Jordan of Couture Mask. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR ARABIA/RUVEN AFANADOR

That’s right. RIHANNA is completely covered from head to toe. This issue focused on modesty, and the interpretation of traditional values with modern twist- hence why we see so little of RiRi’s enviable body in this spread. It’s a bold move by the Harper’s Bazaar editors to choose such a risqué star to depict new ways of adapting such an important custom, but Rihanna brilliantly executes this challenge. Her hair is covered throughout, and in many cases her face is veiled as well, but her superstar brilliance shines through all of this.

Rihanna (in Ralph Lauren) shines from behind a fringed mask in her new Harper’s Bazaar Arabia spread. Image HARPER’S BAZAAR ARABIA/RUVEN AFANADOR

I think this is one of the most beautiful editorials that Rihanna has done in a while and the public’s response to this cover has been incredibly positive. While commentators have been praising Rihanna’s top model worthy modelling abilities, most are surprised that she was able to pull off this ultra conservative mode of dress so fiercely. It’s a far cry from her last headline making editorial and a huge change from the barely there ensembles that we’re so accustomed to seeing her in.

Stark contrast: Rihanna (in Palace Costume shorts (left), a towel by EROS and diamonds by Neil Lane and Dior) by Mario Sorrenti for the May 2014 issue of Lui Magazine. Image LUI MAGAZINE/MARIO SORRENTI

Its refreshing to see Rihanna like this, and I am not in the least bit surprised that she was able to execute this challenge so well. Remember her Gucci “Tattoo Heart Collection” ads? She’s been working it hard for years, always reinventing her public image and developing her modeling abilities along with her music and style.

Rihanna (in Alexander Wang and Givenchy) by Mariano Vivanco for the April 2013 edition of Elle UK. Image ELLE UK/MARIANO VIVANCO

Rihanna has been in the entertainment business for almost ten years and in that time she has probably reinvented herself dozens of times. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progression of her style from that of a fresh faced island girl to the daring and fashion forward Rihanna of today. During that time she has experimented with almost every style and developed her own sense of personal style by incorporating different features from her experiments, always adapting them to fit her current image. Along the way, Rihanna’s started a number of popular trends herself; who could forget her asymmetrical bob, her cherry-red curls, or the ton of nail trends that she has sparked?

Rihanna (in Yves Saint Laurent) by Ellen Von Unwerth for the September 2011 edition of Glamour Magazine. Image GLAMOUR MAGAZINE/ELLEN VON UNWERTH

In many respects her sense of style and her musical artistry can be seen to parallel one another. Just as she likes to play with samples of reggae, dubstep, rock and house in her music, we can see influences the of punk and gothic culture, hip-hop and island inspired street style, along with high fashion glamour. Rihanna has become one of the most influential figures in fashion, and has been praised and criticized for her daring (and often revealing) approach to style.

A punked-out Rihanna (in Acme Jacket, Chapel NYC vintage Tee, and jewelry by Lynn Ban and Repossi) by Inez & Vinoodh for the Winter 2013 editon of 032c Magazine. Image 032c MAGAZINE/INEZ & VINOODH

Rihanna is a bona fide style setter and along with the endless magazine covers and editorials she has faced, she’s fronted major ad campaigns for cosmetic giants Covergirl and MAC, and has been the face of Armani, Gucci and Balmain collections and campaigns.

Rihanna by Inez & Vinoodh for the Balmain S/s 2014 campaign. Image BALMAIN/INEZ & VINNODH

She has described her approach to design as being, “about taking a risk…I always look for the most interesting silhouette or something that’s a little off.” In 2008 Rihanna joined a number of other celebrities to collaborate with H&M for it’s Fashion Against AIDS line, a fund aimed towards helping raise awareness and combat HIV/AIDS. Her success in this has resulted in her designing capsule collections for Armani Jeans and River Island in addition to her four independently released fragrances.

Models (from left) Tati Cotliar, Milou van Groesen, Nyasha Matonhodze and Ji Hye Park star in Rihanna’s F/w 2013 River Island campaign by Lachlan Bailey. Image RIVER ISLAND/LACHLAN BAILEY

Rihanna’s contribution to fashion has not gone unnoticed, and she has been rewarded for her work with numerous style awards and nominations. She was the Glamour Magazine’s 2009 Woman of the Year, in 2013 she received the first-ever Icon Award at the American Music Awards and earlier in 2014 she was presented with a Fashion Icon Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) by none other than Anna Wintour herself!

Rihanna attends the winners walk during the 2014 CFDA fashion awards on June 2nd in New York, where she received the Fashion Icon Lifetime Achievement Award. The singer wore a custom gown by Adam Selman, diamond jewelry by Paul Morelli and Jacob & Co. and a blush-coloured mink stole, her gown was covered by over 230,000 hand-applied Swarvoski crystals mounted on sheer net. Image WIREIMAGE/ANDREW H. WALKER

I’ve always been a fan of Rihanna’s daring style, and this Harper’s Bazaar Arabia editorial has made me even a bigger fan. This shoot not only silenced many of her critics, but proved to the world that Rihanna isn’t a person who should ever be underestimated. Her talent and mastery of her craft and her ability to keep people guessing make her one of the most engaging and provocative celebrities alive today.

Rihanna (in Wagner Kallieno shorts, Otávio Giora straw hat and jewelry by Turpin, Talento, Jacquie Aiche and Francesca Romana Diana) by Mariano Vivanco for the May 2014 edition of Vogue Brazil. Image VOGUE BRAZIL/MARIANO VIVANCO

Here’s to RiRi: Always glamourous… …always brilliant… …and always fierce!

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