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  • Layla Ilchi

How Rihanna Built Her Fashion and Beauty Empire

Fenty Skin is just the latest addition to the singer’s portfolio.


Lexie Moreland/WWD

Over the last few years, Rihanna has proven she’s one of the most successful musicians-turned-entrepreneurs.

While the singer has embarked on several fashion deals throughout her career — including collaborations with Dior, Manolo Blahnik, Stance Socks, Puma and River Island — Rihanna’s stand-alone ventures in the fashion and beauty industries have set her apart from her fellow celebrities.

Her first venture, Fenty Beauty, in 2017 proved Rihanna is a force to be reckoned with when she launched the line with an unprecedented 40-shade foundation range, setting the new standard of diversity and inclusivity that many new and established brands have followed.

Rihanna’s other businesses, lingerie brand Savage x Fenty and fashion label Fenty, have also upheld this ethos, making her a highly respected entrepreneur in the space.

Now that Rihanna is yet again expanding her empire — with beauty brand Fenty Skin, which launches on July 31 — WWD takes a look at her fashion and beauty brands and how she’s created her empire.

Fenty Beauty

Rihanna made a bold entry into the beauty industry in 2017 with Fenty Beauty by launching the makeup line with a 40-shade foundation, an offering that was much more expansive than brands typically carried.

The singer’s launch created what was referred to in the beauty industry as the “Fenty Effect,” where customers expected brands to offer a wide range of shades fit for every skin tone.

Her focus on inclusivity paid off, earning the brand sales north of $100 million in its first few weeks after launch.

Rihanna later one upped herself by expanding the foundation range to offer 50 shades and launched a corresponding concealer line with 50 shades, too. The brand has since expanded to other product categories, including highlighter, lipstick, blush, bronzer and eye shadow, among others.

The brand has also been using TikTok as a way to spread its message of inclusivity and diversity, establishing a designated TikTok house in Los Angeles where the singer has a rotating roster of influencers come and create videos for the app. The lighthearted videos show the influencers taking part in the latest TikTok challenges and dances and giving makeup tutorials with Fenty Beauty products. Fenty Beauty is the second most followed fashion or beauty brand on TikTok, following Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics.

Savage x Fenty

Savage x Fenty, spring 2020 collection. Courtesy of Fenty

Rihanna’s entry into the lingerie space with Savage x Fenty has been just as groundbreaking. The singer launched the brand in 2018 and closed out fashion week that September with an immersive experience that tapped a diverse set of models, including a pregnant Slick Woods who went into labor backstage after the show.

The following year challenged the embattled Victoria’s Secret by hosting a hybrid lingerie fashion show concert that was empowering, entertaining and provocative in the post-#MeToo era. She again debuted the collection on a diverse group of models including Laverne Cox, Alva Claire and Lauren Wasser. The show was later streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Savage x Fenty has also expanded to TikTok, launching its account in April with the help of Megan Thee Stallion, who appeared in the brand’s first video dressed in its lingerie dancing to her hit song “Savage” for the viral #SavageChallenge.


Rihanna unveils her first fashion designs for Fenty at a pop-up store in Paris in 2019. Francois Mori/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Rihanna made history in 2019 when she launched her Fenty fashion label with LVMH, making her the first Black woman to head a brand under the conglomerate. This was also the first time LVMH launched a fashion brand from scratch since establishing couture house Christian Lacroix in 1987.

Just a few months after launch, Rihanna was awarded with the Urban Luxe Award at the British Fashion Awards.

In just over a year on the market, the brand has cultivated a loyal following thanks to its collections that mimic Rihanna’s own streetwear meets high fashion style. The brand’s latest drop is a collaboration with show designer Amina Muaddi, which released on July 15.

Fenty Skin

Rihanna’s next venture is with Fenty Skin, her first skin-care brand launching on July 31.

Rihanna has yet to reveal specifics on the brand, however she filed a trademark for Fenty Skin on March 25, 2019, for an array of skin-care products including “non-medicated skin-care preparations, non-medicated soaps, facial cleaning tissues, and medicated skin-care preparations.” The trademark was also filed for makeup bags and accessories, such as cleansing sponges, makeup brushes, exfoliating cloths and facial rollers.

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