On June 2, Rihanna's influential style will be solidified at the CFDA Fashion Awards, where she will be honored with the "Icon Award." The Council of Fashion Designers of America have labeled the provocateur "fashion's most exciting ambassador in recent memory" for her ever evolving looks. Like her predecessors Iman, Lady Gaga, Nicole Kidman and Kate Moss, she's covered countless glossies and set off seasonal trends. However, the question still remains--is she truly an "icon?"
We've employed Bravo's Fashion Queens (above)--Bevy Smith, Derek J and Miss Lawrence--to answer this question and reflect on Rih Rih's journey from Barbadian pop princess to Good Girl Gone Bad.
See what these industry pros have to say on the next page and be sure to tune into Fashion Queens every Sunday night at 11:30pm EST!
Photo Credits: Getty Images
VIBE Vixen: What is your definition of a fashion icon?
Bevy Smith: I always like that she wears things with confidence and attitude--it works. She's a fashion icon because she goes her own way, takes the risk, and when you take a risk in fashion, that means you are going do something that has not been tried before and when you do that, a lot of times you're going to have mishaps. That is part of being a fashion visionary.
Miss Lawrence: A fashion icon to me is someone like Rihanna--I think that she definitely has earned it. I think that she came along and pretty much galvanized pop culture with her style sensability and turning into being a fashion designer of her own. I think she owns absolutely everything she puts on and she’s always effortlessly chic.
Derek J: Well, in my eyes a fashion icon is a person that exudes personal style. For me, I am very proud of Rihanna for getting this award, but I don’t think she has reached icon status yet. The reason I feel like that is because when it comes to being an icon, their style goes through generations, people know about that person before they even know who that person was. I think she is on her way to become an icon, but do I think she is iconic yet? No.
Do you think it's a matter of time?
Derek J: It’s just a matter of time and I think it’s a matter of evolution of style. When it comes down to style, Naomi Campbell is an iconic styled woman.
Can you remember the first time you saw Rihanna's style evolving?
Bevy Smith: Once she got out of that video vixen look of the blonde hair weave-- the broke r&b chick look--she kind of stepped out on Good Girl Gone Bad. That was definitely the canvas of her style and stepping into her own on all levels. Style is just as important as talent when you are trying to break out the box.
It wasn't about the sound initially; it was really when she cut her hair and dyed it black. A long time ago, I dressed her for the Vibe Awards and after that I didn't see her for a while...maybe 2 years. Then when I did the cover story on her for Paper Magazine, she was a completely different girl. She was more outspoken. When I first met Rihanna, she was really quiet, kind of shy and referred a lot to other people's opinions. When I interviewed her two years later, that was totally not the case. In the piece she told me that she had the goal of becoming the black Madonna. I think she is definitely well on her way.
In that time, you have to remember everyone was rocking long blonde hair. Think of her competitors during that time--Christina Milian, Teairra Marie, Beyonce--what she did was really bold to go short and black. There was no one doing that.
Derek J: When Rihanna cut her hair, it was at a moment when everybody was in that cookie cutter mode of long hair. If you had a certain skin tone, you had a certain lightness of hair. She cut it and went black. She was the total opposite of what was happening at that moment and it made her stand out.
Miss Lawrence: I was very pleased to see her share herself in the "Umbrella" video. That was one of my favorite videos where she displayed a lot of high fashion. I love her chopped messy bob--she just really delivered a total look for me and it actually worked for her.
As far as Rihanna's hair, what color/style do you think has worked best for her?
Bevy Smith: Another iconic thing she did is when she rocked that bold cherry red. That look might be big in Carribean communities, but you never see that look in a high fashion point of view. That's what I love about Rihanna-- she brings urban street fashion into the mainstream conversation. Many women in the past try to crossover street looks to high fashion. Madonna tried it with cornrows , she had marcel waves; she was trying to show the urban experience, but she never experienced it. With Rihanna, she is just taking from her background and bringing it out to the forefront.
Derek J: My favorite has been the short hair. I even liked it when she did the one sided with the gray tips. My worst was when she wore that wrap with them bobby pins. I hated the fact that it was not done and the fact that you had the nerve to add rhinestone bobby pins.
Miss Lawrence: I think my favorite was that whole red moment that she was doing. I think she wears that color really well because she has such rich undertones in her skin and she has beautiful amazing almond eyes. My least favorite was the whole wrap moment that she had with the blinged out bobby pins. I think she tried to do a whole silver gray moment one time--that might of been my least favorite color.
Bevy Smith: I didn't particularly like it, but it was bold. We see this look countless times in the hood, but she was taking it to an international platform , and she is calling it a style even though it was a maintenance kind of look. You know if you are going out tonight, your doobie has to be fresh( laughs). Who knows-- maybe her doobie wasn't ready to let down, so she just ran with it.
Do any of her red carpet moments stick out in your mind?
Derek J: I know she wore this this deep plunging neckline [at the 2013 Grammys], and she had that had that toussled blonde hair. I thought she was absolutely stellar looking. She looked amazing, she was absolutely stunning and I loved that she walked the carpet and went straight to the stage and didn’t do a costume change or anything.
Who do you think she looked up to in terms of style as a kid?
Miss Lawrence: I could see a little Madonna; not the avant-garde Madonna or anything like that--the Madonna sexy chic side. I could totally see a little bit of Naomi [Campbell] there. I could see a little of Grace Jones with Rihanna’s more daring numbers that she’ll do.
If you had to employ her to help another celebrity with her style, who would it be?
Miss Lawrence: I don’t really want to go there because I think everyone has their own unique style in their divine right. I don’t want to put another artist with another artist to say she could help her out. What I will say is that up and coming entertainers and artists should take note of Rihanna and make sure they follow her path for inspiration.
Derek J: Rita Ora to me doesn’t have a personal style. Rita Ora looks like she is a very stylized person; meaning that her stylist is like, “Girl put this on, you gon’ look good, this is the hottest thing." I think she is an “It” girl and not understanding as and she feels like she has do the "it" things, too. She only had one good look and I think that was the 2014 Grammys.
Do you think her confidence is inspired by her style or vice versa?
Bevy Smith: I think her confidence is there. Are there better singers? Yeah. Are there better dancers? Yeah. But she is a maverick and she owns her lane. I think when you own your lane, there's a confidence there that no one can take from you. When you put a fabulous look on top of that--she is the provocateur of music. I think that's what fuels the style.
What tips can you offer Vixens on finding their own personal style?
Derek J: Find out who that inner person is in you and who you really feel comfortable being. Now, a lot of women know who that person is, but they just don’t feel like that’s the right person to be, so what I tell people to do is name that person. If you want to be this really hood rat chick, then be that girl. If you’re more of that classy and reserved lady, then figure out who that chick is and name her. I think that they get so caught up in what people’s perceptions are of them and they second guess what to do because they’re wondering what so and so is thinking of them. That shouldn’t even matter. If it makes you feel good, it doesn’t really matter.
Bevy Smith: Every season you go, look at what the trends are and then you see how your body type , your finances and your spirit can fit to the trends. Don't opt your personal style just to be on trend. For instance, everyone is wearing overalls, right? That is a really big trend, but I cant wear overalls. But to still be in the denim trend, I got a gorgeous denim pencil skirt. I'll be part of the trend, but in my own way.
What is on trend this spring?
Pastels- Although it kind of looks Easter, it is a really great trend for girls and guys. For girls, it makes us look ladylike, young and spirited. For guys, it makes them look a little more emo; gives them a Drake appeal (laughs). If you see a guy in a nice pastel pink sweater you are going to think, "Aww he's a nice guy, but he can really be an asshole (laughs)." It makes everyone look a little softer and nicer.
Atheltic Wear- Gotta have your baseball jackets; gotta have athletic inspired footwear.
Metallics in the daytime- You know last year was all about a pop of color. This year is all about a pop of shine. Metallics are becoming more casual. In stores you will see a metallic sweat shirt, sweatpants and of course prints and patterns.
How about hair, Miss Lawrence?
Well, definitely you need to consider your hair texture, your facial shape and your lifestyle. Those are definitely three things you need to consider. Then you want to move into manageability, but I support change 100%.