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Rihanna Brings Inclusivity and Emmy Buzz to Fashion Week With Eye-Popping Savage X Fenty Show

Variety — Elizabeth Wagmeister

On Tuesday night in New York, Amazon had its Beyonce moment: Like “Homecoming” brought home a slew of Emmy nominations for Netflix, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show seems likely to generate awards buzz for the streaming service — and the superstar.

Rihanna got a standing ovation from the exclusive crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, who came to see the star present her fall/winter 2019 collection at New York Fashion Week show, but ended up witnessing a full-blown television production that will stream on Amazon Prime on Sept. 20.

The show was unlike anything previously staged during Fashion Week — and possibly anywhere. Rather than a catwalk show, the event was more of an audio-visual experience, combining music, art, fashion and dance, creating a multi-sensory experience for the audience. Leave it to Rihanna to bring together lingerie, Emmy-worthy choreography, music, celebrities — Migos, DJ Khaled, Big Sean, A$AP Ferg, Fat Joe, Fabolous, and Tierra Whack all performed, and 21 Savage, Cara Delevingne, Laverne Cox, Normani, Bella and Gigi Hadid and others appeared — all while redefining the rules of the still-progressing fashion industry.

The show began with Rihanna, dimly lit and surrounded by dancers following precise choreography by Parris Goebel, known for Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” video.

(Photos: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty Show Presented by Amazon Prime Video)

But although this was Rihanna’s show, she did not perform: After the opening number, she exited the stage and did not return until her final bow. (And long after the show wrapped, she finally stopped by the few lingering reporters and photographers on the red carpet at around 1 a.m.) The  focus was on fashion, although there was no shortage of top-shelf talent. The performances began with Big Sean singing “Clique,” for which he was soon joined by A$AP Ferg. Migos took the stage next, surrounded by models and dancers on the runway (which was really a full set of staircases, a shallow pool and brightly-colored windows), along with Fabolous and Tierra Whack. Normani had a stand-out dance routine, and after Halsey’s sensual debut performance of her new single “Graveyard,” DJ Khaled and Fat Joe pumped up the room with “All I Do Is Win” and “All The Way Up” with Khaled yelling, “We love you Rihanna!”

Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Joan Smalls, Christian Combs, Slick Woods — who infamously went into labor just hours after walking in Rihanna’s show last year — and Cara Delevingne, who stars in Amazon’s “Carnival Row,” all walked in the show while an even more star-studded lineup watched from the audience, including Chris Rock, Lil Kim, Kacey Musgraves, Diplo, Vanessa Hudgens, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Ashley Benson, model Ashley Graham, designers Prabal Gurung and Zac Posen — and yes, they were asked to lock up their phones along with the rest of us.

What Rihanna has done to broaden the beauty business with her Fenty products — which brought in a reported $570 million last year — by putting 40 shades of foundation on shelves, she is now doing with her lingerie line, which boasts a tagline that “celebrates fearlessness, confidence and inclusivity.” Models of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and identities walked across the stage, with 3X-sized dancers in lingerie and sneakers whipping their hair alongside XS-sized models, and transgender icons — including a red lingerie-clad Laverne Cox — walking the catwalk alongside famed drag queens like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Aquaria next to a model with prosthetic legs.

Rihanna will be credited as executive producer on the production, which was created under her artistic direction. Insiders tell Variety the show will be submitted for next year’s Emmy awards — one of the few applicable awards missing from Rihanna’s trophy case, which includes nine Grammy Awards, seven MTV Video Music Awards and the CFDA Fashion Icon Award.

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