Saturday, June 7, 2014

Millennial News: fashion's naked truth

by Melissa Scott, Writing Intern

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards took place Monday night (June 2) at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York. Film director and screenwriter, John Waters hosted the event.

Annually, the event recognizes exceptional contributions made by individuals from all areas of the industry, and related arts, to American fashion. Awards were given for design excellence in menswear, women’s-wear, and accessories, as well as extraordinary accomplishments in journalism, creative vision, and for lifetime achievement.

Rihanna accepted the 2014 CFDA Fashion Icon Award - an honor given to an individual whose style has made a significant impact on popular culture on the international stage.

It was both predictable and appropriate that Rihanna was the only nominee. She's stunned both the fashion, and music industry, year after year with her bold clothing statements and unforgettable visual performances. Upon receiving the award, she joined the ranks of memorable past Fashion Icon winners such as Lady Gaga, Kate Moss, Iman, and Nicole Kidman. 

Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, presented the award to Rihanna, respectfully regarding the various trends the pop star used to express herself at events in the past. She commented “I am here tonight to talk about how Rihanna communicates through fashion. Because of course, that is what style icons do.  They tell us captivating stories about themselves and about the world we live in.”

Wintour slowly but clearly continued, “Rihanna speaks to her fans with every look. And what she says to them is that it’s fun to feel a little boyish one day, and dress up like a dazzling diva the next—I think that’s what she was going for tonight!” She laughed, then noted, “The point is to be audacious, even jaw-dropping or button-pushing, while remaining true to yourself.”

Whether or not Rihanna was in fact going for a message of spontaneity with her spectacular fashion choice Monday night remained to be seen, but she unquestionably upheld Wintour’s reference to audacity.  

Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images
Rihanna made a point to “shine bright like a diamond” at the awards show. She displayed a sheer and alluring fishnet halter gown, glittering with a total of 216,000 embedded Swarovski crystals. Rihanna remained “true to herself;” she allowed every contour of her body to be admired by the see-through dress, and donned nothing but a flesh-colored, minute thong underneath.

She swung a fur wrap around her shoulders, and donned  matching sheer elbow-length gloves and turban to emphasize her exquisite face and makeup. But the efforts were futile—during her acceptance speech, the lighting threw ALL of Rihanna’s striking features into plain sight.

Other Hollywood stars, in attendance at the CFDA awards, included Emmy Rossum in a green chiffon J. Mendel gown, and Blake Lively in a short gold and glittery Michael Kors dress. Actress, and filmmaker, Greta Gerwig looked comfortable and sophisticated in a draping, orange Zac Posen number. But of course, none stood out more than Rihanna, and her translucent wardrobe.

Rihanna managed to boldly defend her scandalous look, and all previous fashion statements, as she declared, “fashion has always been my defense mechanism.” She grinned, “Even as a child I remember thinking she can beat me but she can’t beat my outfit! And to this day, I can compensate for all my weaknesses with my fashion.”

Rihanna showed no weakness at the award show, only confidence and pride. She may have ensured she was the star of the show through her attire (or lack thereof). And that reckless daring likely cemented her status as the future of fashion today.

Rihanna un-apologetically acknowledged her rebellious attitude, stating, “Fashion has just been an outlet for me to express myself, to speak up, to say who I am, and to be very loud about it. I just like to have fun with it. Fashion is just a world of thrill—there are no rules.”

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Realizing she was at an event managed by a crowd of fashion industry leaders, she quickly looked around furtively, winked, and added, “Well, there are rules, but rules are meant to be broken.”

While Rihanna’s fashion statement was possibly viewed as an eyeful to the public, respected designers thought otherwise.

In an interview before the show, designer Zac Posen defended the singer, naming her a “fashion risk-taker who skillfully melds red carpet glamour with a rebellious streak.” Posen told The Associated Press simply, “she knows what she likes.” Popular designer Alexander Wang additionally voiced her approval of Rihanna’s eccentric style. He enthusiastically gushed, “I love my girl RiRi. She’s fearless. She has guts. Even in sweatpants, she owns it!”

Rihanna proved she can own it at the CFDA awards, not only with sweatpants, but in no pants. In Anna Wintour’s own words, “She proves that incredible style can help take a talented young woman from a small island to the world stage, and along the way spark a lot of conversation about elegance and empowerment.”

When she enters a room, heads turn. Elegance and empowerment are her fabrics of choice.  She deserved this honor. 


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