I have a Rihanna story. Five years ago, I was living in Barbados (yeah, sucks to be me) when I spotted RiRi pushing a shopping cart around the local supermarket while chatting with a gal pal. At the time, her second album had just dropped and, at 17, she was still in the very early stages of what would become her high-octane career.
I grabbed my teenaged daughter and insisted we go say hello, much the horror of both my daughter and Robyn (as they still refer to Rihanna back on de island). The young star was a bit flustered and annoyed at being bothered — who knew middle-aged white gringo tourists weren’t her core demographic? — but she gave us an autograph when she learned we were from Canada.
A couple of impressions stood out during our brief chat. First, RiRi looked no different than any other pretty teenaged Bajan girl; you would have trouble picking her out at a club or a beach party. And second, she seemed genuinely surprised that someone recognized her (no one else in the store seemed to notice) in public.
My, my, my. How things have changed since then.
Rihanna’s new gig as the face and body of Emporio Armani underwear is another massive leap upward for someone whose star seems to be perpetually ascending.
Her first assignment — for the Fall 2011 underwear line — is classic Americana: a semi-clad blonde in the backseat of a vintage auto (the kind with seats big enough for some frolicking).
It’s not an original concept by a long shot, but it positions Armani and its new girl smack dab in the center of America’s cultural zeitgeist … and the male libido.
With her chameleon-like ability to change her appearance seemingly at will, RiRi is both a designer’s dream and a blank canvas for the world’s top photographers. It should also help her avoid being stalked at the supermarket.
Here are some more images from the fall Armani campaign.