For her Savage x Fenty lingerie line, Rihanna has partnered with her close friend, the designer Adam Selman, on a collaborative project with its sights on Valentine's Day (though it is available now online).
The lineup is officially known as the "Savage x Fenty Adam Selman Capsule Collection."
It features Valentine’s Day-centric themes, with hearts (sometimes employed as harness accents), an ultra-saturated primary red hue, a number of bows, and the general sort of indulgent, fun sexiness associated with the Hallmark holiday.
Pieces in their roster range from babydoll cover-ups (with standing hearts that cover the nipples) to cup-less bras to handcuffs and whips. Selman, speaking over the phone, cautiously but knowingly calls the toys “accessories.”
The accompanying campaign—a selection of images from which are seen throughout this article—hosts the models Joan Smalls, Paloma Elsesser, Adesuwa and Fiffany. They pose in a neon-flooded bedroom, awash in pink fluorescence and surrounded by lava lamps. The vignettes were lensed by Dennis Leupold.
“Rihanna and I have worked together for seven years, and we’re really close at this point,” says Selman. The origins of this particular collaboration have a fittingly foxy story: Rihanna whispered sweet nothings (which amounted to something) in Selman’s ear.
“It was sometime early in the year, and we hugged each other at a party and she came up close to me and said, ‘You have to do Savage x Fenty with me.’ Then she walked away. Two days later, she texted me to say she was serious.”
Rihanna and Selman have a long history of engaging with each other, particularly when it comes to custom looks for the former.
Most memorable in the public’s collective memory is likely Rihanna’s 2014 CFDA Award outfit, which consisted of a second-skin sheer pearlescent nude dress embellished with thousands of crystals, a matching headscarf, and a furry stole. The gown especially, and its diaphanous quality, set the stage of the “illusion dresses” that Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and many more would wear over the following years. Selman designed the whole thing, top to bottom.
“Rihanna has always been on the pulse, or, actually, one step ahead of the pulse,” he says. “Look at what she is creating in the lingerie space. She is doing a beautiful job of tearing down barriers when it comes to body positivity, sex positivity and more.”
The superstar’s Savage x Fenty label—which was the recent subject of an Amazon Prime Video documentary—has, no doubt, broken through in a space once dominated by Victoria’s Secret and a far narrower scope of beauty standards and definitions. Rihanna’s runway shows for Savage x Fenty include everyone, spotlighting an ultra-diverse range of backgrounds, gender identifications and non-binary individuals, body types and abilities.
Her promise is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Victoria’s Secret’s antiquated high-shine ideals of sexiness. And in that, Rihanna's promise is sexier.
“Her, or him, whoever is wearing it,” says Selman, “is meant to feel confident. It’s playful and sweet and sexy… and, I mean, I would definitely be the one to make a babydoll dress with no top. Up for it!”
The partnership is also something of a primer for Selman himself; in 2019, he ceased work on his namesake ready-to-wear line to introduce Adam Selman Sport (abbreviated, cheekily, to A.S.S.). He has done a few sports-bra-esque pieces, but underwear is on the horizon. He will also launched A.S.S. Men in the near to mid future.
“I feel freer doing my own thing within fashion,” he says. “I am much happier. I love working within this kind of design box.”