There were few who anticipated a fashion triumph, but, even allowing for the limited expectations, Rihanna’s collection for River Island as brought forth in London tonight was a horror show.
The clothes were hideous and without an ounce of panache or style between them.
True, there were some consolations. For example, if you really, really like belly buttons, if you are totally nuts for navels, then this could be the collection for you.
If you only feel capable of wearing clothes on the lower half of your body if they are slashed up to your waist, then again, you are in luck.
Similarly, if you were a guy hoping for a one night stand and a girl started chatting to you in a bar wearing anything from the Rihanna for River Island collection, you could feel fair confident you’d be getting lucky. The only lingering uncertainty in your mind would be whether or not she would take a credit card.
Even before Rihanna unveiled her unsurprisingly slutty and yet tiresomely predictable collection for River Island at London Fashion Week tonight, there were many who said that it was a mistake to allow the world’s most famous pop star of the moment to hijack an event which is supposed to be about celebrating creativity, passion and original thinking in fashion (as opposed to lazily co-opting celebrity endorsement to shift mediocre, mass-market product, which is what McDonalds is for).
Although to be fair, there wasn’t much hijacking required. The British Fashion Council tried to have its cake and eat it by claiming that Rihanna was not part of the ‘official’ LFW line-up (her show was held off-site at a disused post office on New Oxford Street) whilst including her on their official schedule and boosting her show through their official emails, but the truth was that tonight’s show was far some fringe effort scorned by the fashion powers that-be. It was widely regarded as a coup by the BFC, proof that London finally had arrived on the map commercially.
It was inevitable that Rihanna’s wattage would diminish the visibilty of everyone else at LFW, like flashlights forced to compete with sunlight, but the BFC appears to have considered it worth the risk.
And yes, they got the celebs and the crazy crush outside the venue and tomorrow they will get the headlines. But most of the designers that you speak to privately here in London are aghast at the notion that London Fashion Week should have become Rihanna Fashion Week.
Rihanna, the star of London Fashion Week? Sure, she’s an eye-catching dresser and all, but, the star of fashion week? How did that happen?
Rihanna’s a fantastic singer with a talent for publicity, but has she ever drawn a line of chalk on a piece of cloth? Graded a pattern? Spent a year or four at St Martin’s?
Aren’t those the kind of people London Fashion Week is supposed to be about?
One designer who was prepared to be quoted, Giles Deacon, told the Times: “I can understand the high street brands wanting to have visibility, but London fashion week’s integrity rests on it showcasing the best of the UK’s design talent. It would be dangerous if this became compromised due to scheduling issues.”
Which seems to be a very polite way of saying: Rihanna? River Island? WTF?
Rihanna claimed in a pre-show promotional video that her collection was “casual”, “chic” and “flirty”.
In the event it was like Fright Night in Kmart.
But doubtless this hardly matters to Ri-Ri. She flew in today, she’ll probably be on the first flight back tomorrow, dismissing the haters like me, her million dollar cheque safely cashed, her part of the contract fulfilled.
No doubt the River Island collection will sell furiously to Rihanna’s fans, who will be delighted with the new, porny additions to their wardrobes. Maybe - brace, brace - she'll even be back for a second season.
So everyone’s a winner right?
Well, yes, apart from London Fashion Week itself, which allowed itself to be co-opted into this cynical marketing exercise entirely devoid of inspiration or authenticity.
Oh - and spare a thought for the true designers showing today - Issa and Julien Macdonald to name just two - who know only too well on whom all tomorrow’s fashion ink will be spilt.