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Empowering Women

by Guenevere Dunstan

Photo courtesy of Amanda Willis

Last month, Rihanna reinvented the lingerie industry with the debut of her second Savage x Fenty runway show during New York Fashion Week. When asked about the concept that gave her inspiration for the Savage x Fenty show, she stated: “Women are running the world right now and it’s too bad for men.” This feminist mentality is truly what is driving the future of fashion, and Rihanna has proven to be at the forefront of it all.

Different from other NYFW shows, guests were required to leave their phones at the front door, encouraging people to disconnect from social media and become fully engaged. The show was opened by Rihanna, followed by iconic celebrities and models, including Cara Delevingne, Slick Woods, Alex Wek, 21 Savage, Normani, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Laverne Cox and Joan Smalls. The spectacle featured bold dance choreography, as well as live music from Halsey, Migos, A$AP Ferg, Fat Joe, Big Sean, Tierra Whack and Fabolous.

The Savage x Fenty show aired on Amazon Prime live stream on Sept. 20, 2019, allowing for over 200 countries to access the videography. The live streaming of the Savage x Fenty show certainly gave the annual Victoria’s Secret show a run for their money in the most empowering way possible.

Last May, the decision was announced that the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show would no longer air on network television, ending its two-decade-long tradition. However, this announcement was long expected; within the last five years, the ratings for the fashion show dropped by nearly two-thirds, demonstrating the viewership’s desire for more inclusivity across the casting board, according to the New York Times.

According to the New York Times article, despite the steep decline in ratings, it appeared that the chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret, Edward Razek, disagreed with the idea of diversifying the show. When Vogue asked in an interview why Victoria’s Secret had failed to include plus-size or transgender models, Razek responded: “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special.”

While Victoria’s Secret has associated the word “fantasy” with supermodels in six-inch heels and angel wings, Rihanna has created her own “fantasy” by empowering women to own their bodies with confidence. In a Vogue interview for her May cover story, Rihanna exclaimed: “Women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves,” before continuing on to state, “I can only hope to encourage confidence and strength by showing lingerie in another light.”

The Savage x Fenty show embodied the ever-increasing mentality that women are fed up with unrealistic beauty standards. The overarching theme of the show was that confidence is a state of mind, not a specific body type. Instead of catering to the male gaze, Rihanna empowered women to celebrate themselves and each other. Rihanna seems to be onto something here, and brands like Victoria’s Secret should follow suit.

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