With her power pipes and full-on attitude, Rihanna has become fashion’s most exciting new muse. So how does it feel to have her dress you for a day? Plum Sykes finds out.
On a wintry December afternoon the Alexander Wang SoHo store is temporarily closed, no customers allowed. A bodyguard is scoping the place out like a character from Homeland. He looks suspiciously from Wang, dressed in droopy black jersey, who is sitting next to me on a black leather couch scattered with black mink cushions, to the lush fox-fur hammock hanging in the center of the store, and back again. His eyes narrow as he scrutinizes the twelve-foot-high black teddy bear in the window for hazards. “I need to know where the nearest hospital is,” he whispers. A convenient hospital is quickly located.
The guard is laden down with a heavy-looking backpack.
“Can I take your bag?” offers the salesgirl kindly. “No, thank you,” says the guard. “I keep this. I have in it whatever She needs.”
She—I knew, we all knew, because we had been waiting at least five long minutes for her—is Rihanna. Everyone who works for the singer-slash-megastar, I later discover, refers to her as “She,” like vicars refer to God as “Him.” And the reverence fits, at least today—she’s just been told that she has had as many number-one singles (thirteen) as Michael Jackson in Billboard’s Hot 100. It took Jackson nearly 23 years. It’s taken Rihanna seven. She’s sold 50 million albums and 180 million singles, and won six Grammys. Pretty extraordinary for a Barbadian tomboy named Robyn Rihanna Fenty who never took singing lessons.
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