For her third collaborative collection with Puma, Rihanna hit the library — the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (National Library of France) on the Rue de Richelieu to be precise — where she showed a fall 2017 Fenty Puma for Rihanna collection on March 6 that mined a textbook’s worth of collegiate motifs and earned her and her team an A-plus for effort.
The Fenty University collection, the singer’s third in collaboration with the Kering-owned sports brand, was presented against a backdrop of three-story-high library stacks with the models strutting along runways built to resemble wooden library tables — right down to the green-shaded lamps and occasional (prop) book scattered about.
Themed around the American high school archetypes of jock, bad girl, preppy, skater, Goth and nerd (We’re hereby officially asking Rihanna and Puma to team for a “Breakfast Club” remake), RiRi and company achieved the improbable: a back-to-school collection with serious sex appeal.
Silhouettes alternated between super baggy (billowy bottoms and oversized hoodies and jackets) and body conscious (curve-hugging, V-neck body suits with generously flared legs, velour track shorts that end a few inches north of the knee, pleated schoolgirl skirts, and a range of rib-knit sweater tops cropped short enough to expose the underside of the breasts).
Although there were certainly sporty elements on the field of play — sexed-up takes on button-off track pants, varsity jackets and cheerleader skirts among them — the most memorable pieces of the collection came by way of the outerwear offerings, including full-length faux-fur coats, faux shearling jackets and multiple pieces that keyed into one of the most noticeable trends on the Paris runways throughout the previous week: the quilted, nylon puffer jacket.
There were cropped puffers with generous bell sleeves that slouched off one shoulder, full-length puffer jackets roomy enough to be unzipped sleeping bags, plaid-patterned puffer wraps bearing the appliquéd chenille varsity letters “FU” (for Fenty University, of course) and even a few puffer-inspired hats thrown in for good measure.
In addition to making sense thematically, putting the models on raised library table runways made the shoes in the collection more noticeable, though they hardly needed the assist. Among the focus-pulling footwear in the mix were thick-soled cotton-candy-colored creepers (another version in black sported an ankle strap), translucent wedges (each heel emblazoned with the pouncing Puma logo), over-the-knee knits and a couple of different versions of a thigh-high boot with lace-up details that managed to evoke both vintage football uniforms and corsetry.
Fans of the brand forced to cool their translucent heels until the collection drops in the fall will have to make do with the spring 2017 “Marie Antoinette goes to the gym” collection, which Rihanna presented at Paris Fashion Week in September — and officially hits retail on March 9.
For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn.