25-Sep, 20:37

09:41, September 11 60 0

2017-09-11 09:41:05
Fashion Review: Rihanna and the Fashion X Games

A year ago Rihanna took her fashion line Fenty x Puma, only in its second season, to Paris — perhaps in search of some design legitimacy; perhaps because Puma is owned by Kering, which is based in the city; or perhaps because she’s Rihanna, and she can.

Whatever the reason, she had a surprisingly successful run (surprising because when her fellow musician-cum-designer Kanye West did the same, it did not go so well; France has a healthy skepticism of the celebrity style arriviste), and on Sunday night she rode that success back into New York. Literally, thanks to three freestyle motocross racers who somersaulted their way over giant mounds of sparkly pink sand to start her show. Which was … a celebration of extreme sports clothes! Vroom.

O.K., subtle she is not.

Also scuba suits, bike shorts, track pants, moto leathers and body-baring maillots combined in a nylon, neon and navy blue mash-up of strut-your-stuff sports and attitude. Did her Paris sojourn make a difference in her clothes? Nah. Rihanna changes the city; the city does not change Rihanna. Among all the examples of that strange contemporary phenomenon known as the celebrity designer — and their numbers are growing — she is something of a law unto herself.

Unlike Kanye, she did not equate herself with the geniuses of silhouette, and drown her clothing in bombast. Unlike Victoria Beckham and unlike Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, she did not humble herself before the experts and work diligently to gain their respect, giving up her other career to toil away in the atelier. Indeed, she seems to be acquiring more careers practically every month (as of last week: beauty mogul). And yet she doesn’t seem to be dialing it in. She’s having fun. She certainly looked like it, anyway, riding around the runway on the back of a dirt bike and blowing kisses for her bow.

It’s an underrated dimension in fashion of late, though not entirely absent.

Diane Von Furstenberg seemed to be having a good time, too, for example, at the presentation of the latest collection for her brand from its creative director, Jonathan Saunders. That’s what happens, apparently, when you finally manage to pass the reins to someone you trust, and can concentrate on other stuff.

She was hanging out at the side of the runway with the guests, watching the show, which had been inspired by the Warhol Factory girl Jane Forth, who was also Ms. Von Furstenberg’s first model. The silhouette was flowy and handkerchief-hemmed, the colors ’70s bright. There were a lot of stripes and shine (sometimes shiny stripes).

“I’ve seen bits and pieces over the last week,” Ms. Von Furstenberg said, “but this is the first time I’m seeing it all.” A model in a cropped khaki jacket and long sunshine-yellow skirt chevroned in two layers of dramatic fringe with a slash of sheer inbetween walked by, and Ms. Von Furstenberg gasped. “That’s a killer!” she said happily. She was into the fringe.

“He gets it,” she added, referring to Mr. Saunders and the cheerful self-empowerment that drove her brand. She is right.

It’s also, of course, part of the subtext of everything Rihanna does, and has become the focus of Prabal Gurung, expressed largely via diversity of size and sexuality on the runway. That’s a good thing, as were the slinky ribbed knit dresses with a buttoned-in waist that could be unbuttoned at will to expose various bits of flesh. Less so the “technical crepe” jackets, shorts and trench coats with corsetry boned into the body, which were heavy handed.

And it was the partly the theme of the dance performance that Opening Ceremony offered in lieu of a traditional show.

Entitled “Changers” and held in La MaMa, the East Village experimental theater, the performance was written and directed by Spike Jonze (of “Her” fame), choreographed by Ryan Heffington (of Sia’s “Chandelier” fame) and starred Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) and Lakeith Stanfield (“Atlanta”), as well as a number of pieces from the Opening Ceremony collection.

The clothes worked with the story line, which had to do with a happy couple who become less happy when she starts to spread her wings, explore her sexuality and change her outfits — no more cutesy little plaid dresses and red peacoats! Striped body-con knits and cold-shoulder devoré velvets instead!

They grow apart and boogie with others, and finally a new balance of power is found. Woman ascendant.

It’s a promising premise, but the realization mostly resembled something your supercool sophomore modern dance troupe might have dreamed up at 2 a.m. after a night of debating Betty Friedan over tequila shots. It didn’t help that the two primary dance moves were strikingly similar to the funky chicken and the running man, or that the clothes themselves had a notably vintage air.

(By contrast, the Sies Marjan collection by Sander Lak of dresses and separates — including a capsule collection of men’s wear — in saturated rainbow shades fairly danced around the body, and begged to be seen in action.)

The Opening Ceremony designers, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, and their collaborators probably had a lot of fun creating the show, and the stars get points for effort and for dressing and undressing on stage, but all that hipness can be awfully stultifying. In the end, it didn’t look that much fun to wear.