The issues with Rihanna W Magazine's editorial spread World's Wildest Style Icon
W Magazine's September issue features Rihanna as the World's Wildest Style Icon, an editorial styled by Ghana-born Edward Enninful. Enninful began in the industry as a fashion model before becoming the youngest fashion director for an international publication, i-D, at the tender age of 18. He claims it was his time at Vogue Italia that matured him as a stylist. Before taking over as fashion and style director at W, Enninful contributed for American Vogue. With such an impressive CV, the popularity of the Rihanna W Magazine spread comes as no surprise.
Though ornamented in headdresses, animal skins, rubies and dramatic make-up, the spread's description by make-up artist Kabuki, along with other news sources, as "tribal" is hardly warranted. Kabuki states "I got the vibe that it was slightly animalistic, but also could be interpreted as tribal or survivalist—definitely somebody using their environment as part of their style." 'Tribal' has emerged in fashion as a sort of genre or trend, but given its colonial history and implication, the statement, coming from such a reputable fashion publication, is daunting.
Somebody using their environment as part of their style is impressively sustainable and there are many emerging artists capitalizing on this practice. Sustainable fashion has emerged as a response and remedy to environmental and social impacts of the industry, and fashion designers across the diaspora are introducing eco-conscious methods through the use of environmentally friendly material and socially-responsible methods of production. There is something cognizant and environmentally conscious about utilizing natural resources to produce textiles and cosmetics. However, using a loaded word like "tribal," given its colonial context undermines these designers and their practice. While the spread itself is visually brilliant, the conversation surrounding the spread should really be dissected. Take a look at the Rihanna W Magazine spreads in the gallery above.