The campaign stars not Rihanna herself, but models Jourdan Dunn, Charlotte Free, Tao Okamoto, Ataui Deng, and Bambi Northwood Blyth. The ads, like the (alleged) clothes in the line, are ’90s-inspired. Critics have called the collection “hideous” and “a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen” — which is precisely the point. Have they ever seen Rihanna at a music festival wearing cut-offs and smoking her pot? Those photos of her running around New York City with her nipples showing through a lace bra top? Her Instagram feed?
Rihanna, that Grammys Alaia dress excepted, has come to own the hot mess/hipster/’90s/bad denim aesthetic better than anyone famous out there right now. The River Island collection looks like her clothes, which are quite often a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen, because that’s what young girls who shop at River Island and dance drunkenly under laser lights to “Where Have You Been?” want to look like. Rihanna isn’t a serious designer or dresser — she throws on a bra or a slitted skirt or miniature romper and some shoes that don’t match and goes out the house and gets more attention for it than most celebs ever do for wearing bad outfits. And all the while she’s become a poster girl for it being okay for women to flaunt their bodies in skimpy clothes if they damn well feel like it.
So when she comes out with crop tops, dresses that look like they need to be worn with leotards underneath, and multiple styles of braless overalls? You have to admit that for Rihanna x River Island, this looks right.
Plus, the ’90s are really happening on the runways right now, which shows how current this line is. And even Marc Jacobs sent a topless girl in hot pants down his runway, so obviously looking naked is a huge trend.