The world was mesmerised by Rihanna’s artistry at the latest Savage X Fenty vol. 2 show. This year’s show premiered on Amazon Prime and it was undeniably a phenomenal blend of fashion, entertainment and art blended together seamlessly under Rihanna’s watchful eye. Although one detail slipped RiRi and her faithful teams’ eyes, after a Coucou Chloe song remixed Muslim texts also known as ‘hadiths’ featured in the show causing worldwide controversy.
24 hours after Rico Nasty walked to the remix, a flood of tweets and Instagram stories were posted, condemning the Savage X Fenty show for appropriation. Rihanna addressed the Muslim community, apologizing: “We understand that we have hurt many of our Muslims brothers and sisters and I’m incredibly disheartened by this! I do not play with any kind of disrespect towards God or any religion and therefore the use of the song in our project was completely irresponsible!”
The Savage X Fenty show gave us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the designing process and Rihanna’s source of inspiration. A concoction consisting of 138 hours of dance rehearsals and 165 custom-made looks ranging from the highly anticipated Savage X Fenty Menswear collab with Christian Combs and the new Autumn collection inspired by RiRi’s stardom.
Savage X Fenty has irrefutably been a success across the world. Pre Savage X Fenty, lingerie catwalk shows showed the world an unrealistic selection of women and diversity and inclusivity were a mere afterthought. Rihanna rewrote those rules, carefully crafting a brand that is centred on making sexiness inclusive without performative gestures. In an interview with Vogue, she said: “We always want to include women who haven’t felt sexy by society’s terms and expectations,” she explains. “We want them to feel like this is their safe space and hub, that we get it, and are one with them.”
While Savage X Fenty is easily one of 2020’s most unique fashion-musical experiences, the “honest, yet careless mistake” is a warning to other brands to research music and clothing with a degree of cultural sensitivity. The sincerity of the apology and swift actions meant Rihanna and her brand narrowly escaped the writhing hands of ‘cancel culture’. Just like well-designed pieces and talented models are an essential, cultural awareness must not take a back-seat.