Pin It
Rihanna super bowl
Courtesy of Alaïa

A fashion analysis of Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance

The make-up mogul took to the stage for the first time in 100 years to pay homage to Andre Leon Talley

Poisonous tirades aside, the only valuable contributions that Donald Trump has ever made to culture have come via his Twitter account. Here are some examples: “Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault”; “It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”; and “Barney Frank looked disgusting – nipples protruding – in his blue shirt before Congress. Very very disrespectful”. Such deft prose! Such potent imagery! Sorry losers and haters! 

In the lead-up to Rihanna’s half-time performance, the former president raised his masterful pen once more: “without her ‘stylist,’ she’d be NOTHING. Bad everything, and NO TALENT!,” he said. That’s not true but it’s also not false; Rihanna is the premier example of how fashion can bolster celebrity – taking a pop star and transforming them into a pop-cultural supreme. So when even Trump (a man who looks like how the word “gout” sounds) recognises this, a career-defining concert was always going to be about fashion, too: with Rihanna descending from a floating plinth in custom Loewe and Alaïa

Though fans were duly concerned that the Super Bowl performance would just be a live make-up tutorial, Rihanna spent 13 minutes reminding the public that she was once a humble music maker. She travelled over some of her greatest hits – from ”Where Have You Been to “Umbrella” to “Wild Thoughts” – baby bump bound in a bright red catsuit, a moulded breastplate, and an overstuffed leather puffer reminiscent of Andre Leon Talley’s Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat. Given the kinship between Rihana and ALT, it’s unlikely that such an obvious reference would have been accidental – the only thing more blatant would have been if she had got “FAMINE OF BEAUTY” embroidered across its back. 

Of all their encounters on the steps of the Met Gala, it’s the 2015 edition – when Rihanna wore Guo Pei – that’s most telling of their relationship. “Ah! I love a girl from humble beginnings who becomes a big star,” Talley says in the video. “It’s like the American dream. That’s how you do it.” Rihanna echoed that statement in a press conference before the half-time show: “It’s a long way from home and I could have never guessed that I would have made it here,” she said. So it’s a celebration of that.” Rihanna’s ALT tribute was made by Alaïa but the real coat is being auctioned off at Christie’s this week alongside 380 other accoutrements – for your own personal famine of beauty.