Rihanna’s Instagram handle is BadGalRiRi for a reason. The pop star has an insatiable appetite for danger, and her risk-taking swagger permeates everything she does, not least her sense of style. Tonight she gave fashion-conscious adrenaline junkies something to remember, opening her Fenty x Puma show at the Park Avenue Armory with a trio of daredevil motocross stuntmen who turned dazzling 360-degree tricks over the mountains of pink sand on the runway below. After what has been a relatively subdued round of weekend shows, this was the electrifying moment that New York Fashion Week desperately needed, one that instantly had editors, celebrities, and Rihanna fans in the crowd perched on the edge of their seats.
The collection itself was partly X Games inspired, with a number of classic surf references thrown in for good measure. In addition to biker shorts and scuba onesies, there were modern iterations of cheeky 1980s swim trends, including the French-cut swimsuit, which has arguably been a hot-button topic on beaches all over the land this summer. Long before the likes of Kendall and Bella were posting racy bikini selfies to Instagram, Rihanna had that daring skin-baring look down pat, and her bright neon maillots and body-con beach cover-ups came with all the coolest trimmings, including industrial zippers, adjustable toggles, peekaboo lacing, and mesh overlay. The pop star has never been afraid of unleashing her inner tomboy either, and the oversize motocross-inspired nylon track pants and anoraks were a nice way to push the athleisure trend out of its current spandex comfort zone.
Fenty x Puma has kept one step ahead, so to speak, thanks in part to shoe designs that think outside the box—Rihanna is the first woman to have won Footwear News’s coveted Shoe of the Year award, after all. Her accessories game was more experimental than ever this season: Stiletto thong sandals were finished with chunky surf-style ankle straps; mules came floating on thick Perspex heels; her best-selling creepers were updated with chunky stomper boots; and the new logo fanny packs are likely to be a hit, too. Sneaker culture has gained considerable ground in the realm of high fashion, and it’s clear that Rihanna understands the thrill of the chase for new and unexpected footwear across the board.