A woman who needs very little introduction, Rihanna is much more than the international singer we know and love. MoDA MAG’s Contributing fashion editor, Rachael Barrett, salutes Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
Rihanna receiving the 2017 Harvard Humanitarian of the Year Award
Your rise to the top of the world as a global pop phenomenon is a narrative of epic proportions that will now, and for years to come, provide inspiration for the next generation of Caribbean youth. From humble beginnings in Bridgetown, Barbados you have become a beacon of light, not just because of the success you have achieved but more importantly because of what you have chosen to do with it. Your domination of the pop charts, reinventions of self and attitude, influence on fashion, and your role as arbiter of Caribbean culture on the world stage, have cemented your status as an icon of this age. Like Poitier, Marley, Belafonte and Carmichael you stand alongside other phenomenal Caribbean superstars who have had significant impact on greater human history and culture. Emerging from an era of bubblegum pop princesses, a new crop of strong, bold women continue to be inspired by you Ms. Fenty. As elegantly sartorial as you are shrewd, just last year your Fenty Beauty line racked up US$100million in the first 40 days! Time Magazine hailed the brand as one of the world’s best inventions that year because the notably inclusive range features the largest number of product shades, model shapes and ethnicities of any cosmetics company. This was not your first foray into merchandising as you had previously helmed several major fashion campaigns—I mean, you were the first black spokesperson for Dior!—as well as embracing several design collaborations ranging from venerable jeweler, Chopard, to a collection with Manolo Blahnik, and successfully parlaying a Creative Director appointment with Puma into your own full-fledged (and fully funded) line. Your business acumen is super impressive, as you clearly demonstrate that ‘living the dream’ is only truly maximized when one achievement is used as a platform to launch 10 more. This lesson in business is perhaps the greatest gift you can give to your impressionable fans. Behind the scenes, your Clara Lionel Foundation and partnership with the Global Partnership for Education have shown that like your head, your heart is in the right place. Your philanthropic work has quietly committed over US$7 million towards providing critical disaster relief, and created multiple opportunities in cancer research, treatment and education. What I especially love is that the Foundation ensures that successful Caribbean scholarship applicants who wish to study overseas, to explore opportunities that the region may not be equipped to provide, can do so unencumbered and on a level playing field with their peers in the rest of the world. As an underdog-done-good yourself, you know all too well that sometimes a level playing field is all one needs to shine! Thank you for showing young women from the Caribbean that sartorial savvy and strategic business go hand in hand. You continue to inspire, impact and lead by example. I salute you, the iconic Rihanna Robyn Fenty; mogul, muse and philanthropist.