Just as I thank my driver and dip out of the car at Park Avenue Harmony in New York City’s Upper East Side on Sunday evening, I already spot model Slick Woods catching some air before the dare-devilish Fenty x PUMA by Rihanna SS18 Runway Show begins. She’s wearing a pink floral jumpsuit from the SS17 collection, half-off and tied around her waist, with a teeny sports bra. Models are dashing from massive blacked-out SUVs and assistants are rushing them along, chanting, “This way ladies… let’s go! Let’s go!” Not even five seconds in, and I’m already pumped for what’s about to go down on Park Ave.
As we head into the nearly pitch-black venue, monstrous pink sand dunes are pilled before us and fairytale music fills the air. Remembering the show’s tie-dye invite design and callouts–Soaked, Caution: Extremely Slippery When Wet, Since 1988–I’m expecting to see active beach gear, zip-up bodysuits, and high-intensity hues. Well, I wasn’t far off. I was nearly spot-on, even. “Ladies and gentlemen. Please take your seats. The show is about to begin,” plays on the loud speaker and guests sit down in a hurry as if their mom just told them, “Sit down and STFU.”
The show starts right at 9:35 pm. Pink glittery sand softly falls from the ceiling, onto the dunes. Drums are pounding, and engines begin roaring. In flies a motorist on a dirt bike, leaping high into the air (flames included), and two more follow his lead, performing a Superman-like move and backflip. Little did we know we’d be blessed with a complimentary freestyle motocross show within a fashion show, but we’ll take it!
Slick Woods opens the runway as she’s chauffeured out on a bike, dressed in royal blue snap overalls with magenta accents. As she hops off, in walk the rest of the models, and instantly we’re all transported to a sporty, scuba dreamland. Every single look spotlights a shade of neon, whether it’s a hint of it here and there or full-on head to toe. There’s also a strong reference to the extreme-sports world, and the two elements go hand-in-hand without missing a beat.
I take notes hardcore, as if Rihanna is whispering to me telepathically what’s going to be cool early next year. Biker shorts and cropped pullover hoodies. Fully covered zip-up catsuits. High-cut one-piece swimsuits. Sexy bikini tops and oversized pants (because, this is a line designed by Rihanna, y’all.) See-through wedges with PUMA logos stashed inside. Dramatic, slouchy, thigh-high boots. Friendship-bracelet rope details and yin-yang graphics… everything you need to get a nostalgic high.
Guys are included too, but Rihanna sees this as an opportunity for us to steal from a man’s closet. Although, in hindsight, it could be the other way around. Dudes can snag from our wardrobe just as easily. Male models make their way out in windbreaker and velour track suits, gym shorts, exaggerated strapped-up jackets, and highlighter yellow shower slides.
To be completely honest, out of the past four, this is probably the best Fenty x PUMA by Rihanna collection to date. She had us at “neoprene” (which is crazy flattering, with its suck-it-all-in charm), and the throwback-surf-biker theme, but what’s most thrilling is that this may be the first collection that is truly wearable. Nothing feels too over-the-top, and Rihanna does a brilliant job of keeping a high-level balance of showing skin and sticking to her tomboy foundation. That’s what we love about her.
To close off the show, Rihanna is brought out on the back of a bike and looped around the room as she waves thank you to the crowd, because that’s just how fly she is. Rihanna doesn’t walk out and take a bow, it’s all of us who bow before her.
With a proud sparkle in her eye, she rides off into her neon sunset, and the room is left wondering if we can bottle up the magical pink sand and hold on to this moment just a little bit longer.
Photos by: Fenty x PUMA by Rihanna