The Nipples Are Free

Rihanna Lights Up the CFDA Awards in Sparkly, See-Through Dress

At the CFDA awards, host John Waters described Rihanna as having "fashion balls." The Fashion Icon winner lived up to her reputation in a sparkly, see-through, and utterly fabulous gown.

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#FREETHENIPPLE? Puh-lease. It seems as though they already are.

Rihanna may have been banned from Instagram as a result of her scandalous—and scantily clad photos—but the fashion crowd was more than in favor of having the singer let it all hang out at this year’s CFDA Awards, held June 2.

“Growing up I didn't have a lot of access to fashion,” Rihanna (who earlier in the evening was described by host John Waters as having “fashion balls”) told the audience as she accepted her win for Fashion Icon. “But as far as I could remember, fashion has always been my defense mechanism. Even as a child I remember thinking, ‘She can beat me, but she cannot beat my outfit.’”

She has a point. Not many people can compete with a 5-foot-8, slim-bodied Barbadian taking the stage in a completely sheer, custom Adam Selman gown consisting of over 215,000 Swarovski crystals and a full-frontal look at all of her goodies. In retrospect, she was practically naked. And that's pretty ballsy.

“Fashion is just a world of thrills,” she continued. “It’s exciting, there’s no rules, there’s just ... I mean, she has tons of rules [gestures at Anna Wintour]... Scratch that! Scratch that! There are RULES! But rules are meant to be broken.”

Although not as daring in their sartorial selections, the rest of the “Oscars of Fashion” winners represented the wide variety of talent in the fashion industry—from newbies like Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of the up-and-coming cool kid label Public School, who took home the prize for Menswear Designer of the Year, to veterans including Tom Ford, who received the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award for his 27-year-long career. “Please have me back in another 25 years,” Ford joked. “I promise I’ll wear a toupee and walk with a cane.”

The evening’s other winners included Joseph Altuzarra, who took home the award for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and Ashley Olsen & Mary-Kate Olsen’s The Row for Accessories Designer of the Year. The Swarovski awards for womenswear, menswear, and accessories went to Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters of Creatures of the Wind, Tim Coppens, and Irene Neuwirth, respectively. Raf Simons was presented with the International Award for his work at Christian Dior, and legendary supermodel Bethann Hardison, an activist and pioneer for African-American women in the fashion industry, received The Founder’s Award in Honor of Eleanor Lambert. “I’m not here to put anybody down,” she said in her acceptance speech, which followed an emotional tribute from Naomi Campbell and Iman. “I’m here to bring everybody up.”