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Rihanna’s Fashion Collaboration with LVMH Goes Live

May 29, 2019, 9:03 PM UTC

Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty has arrived, again.

Fenty, Rihanna’s new luxury clothing line with LVMH, debuted in Paris on May 24 and opened its doors to the online masses today.

The multi-hyphenate star is now the first woman of any hue to launch an original brand at the fashion titan, and the first black woman to run an LVMH House. Fenty is also the first LVMH brand to be developed from scratch since Christian Lacroix was founded in 1987. She reportedly has a 49.9 percent stake in the venture.

“Designing a line like this with LVMH is an incredibly special moment for us. Mr. Arnault has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits,” Rihanna told Business of Fashion, referring to LVMH Chairman and Chief Executive Bernard Arnault. “I couldn’t imagine a better partner both creatively and business-wise, and I’m ready for the world to see what we have built together.”

One of the most impressive things Rihanna has built is a brand that includes everyone, and no, not just everyone who can afford a $1100 suit and fanny pack combo.

It may have been her influential message of no-nonsense inclusivity (remember her size-inclusive lingerie line, Savage x Fenty?) that persuaded LVMH, better known for their preoccupation with heritage brands, to step boldly into the Rihanna orbit. It may also have been the money. Rihanna’s first alliance with LVMH, the radically welcoming Fenty Beauty line, generated more than $550 million in its first year.

“Rihanna’s track record [with LVMH] is a clear indicator that her global influence, driven, in part, by her message of diversity and inclusion, may be worth doubling down on,” reports BoF’s Laure Guilbault and Lauren Sherman.

Rihanna is not a casual player in the inclusion arena, so expect plenty of doubling-down in her latest venture.

She personally tapped 67-year-old model JoAni Johnson to be one of the faces of her new clothing line, as one example. And this spectacular thread from fashion expert and podcaster Shelby Ivey Christie shows how closely Rihanna considers her aesthetic choices.

“Rihanna spoke about how the ‘60s ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement inspired the imagery for 1st Fenty Collection,” she tweeted. “Kwame Brathwaite popularized ‘Black is Beautiful’ + captured black beauty + culture through his images. His work appears as the backdrop on .”

Christie explains that Fenty’s campaign imagery was inspired in part by the Grandassa Models, a black modeling group who advocated for inclusive beauty ideals and helped launch the “Miss Natural Standard of Beauty Contests” based in Harlem, New York City. Best I can tell, the contests happened each year on Marcus Garvey Day from 1962 to 1979. Click through for some spectacular side-by-side comparisons.

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where important firsts are still coming, and this is one for the record books. Rihanna continues to use the platform she’s created to make art and marketing that inspires as well as informs.

So, tip o’ the $180 “no cap” to Rihanna, the fashion icon we need, and if we’re very, very lucky, will also deserve.

On Point

Black lawyers are being excludedThis is the painful conclusion of this year’s The American Lawyer’s 2019 Diversity Scorecard, an annual snapshot of diversity within Big Law. And it’s not a new thing: Since 2011, black lawyers have seen both the slowest growth among the largest firms surveyed—from 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent—and the lowest levels of representation when compared with all other “minority” groups. Black legal professionals are underrepresented even in the firms that rank high on the list. To the rescue is Michelle Fang, the Chief Legal Officer of car-sharing company Turo, who became raceAhead famous when she authored an open letter demanding law firms do better or risk losing clients. The letter garnered signatures from more than 170 general counsel. In response to the latest survey, she reached out to DiversityLab and other experts and issued a set of actionable items for any legal eagles looking to move the diversity needle, so please click and

A new study shows that U.S. Fortune 500 companies on track for gender parity on boards by 2023
This year’s Heidrick & Struggles’ Board Monitor report is the tenth annual study of  trends in non-executive board appointments within the Fortune 500, shows some long-term progress for representation by race and gender... with lots of room for improvement. U.S. Fortune 500 companies filled a record 462 vacant or new board seats in 2018, up from 358 in 2017. Of the new seats, a record 183 women were tapped, a 34% increase over the 137 appointed in 2017. Racially/ethnically diverse new board appointments were unchanged from 2017’s record high of 23%. If the trend continues, gender parity is in sight. “For the first time, we see companies are seeking directors with consumer experience more than any other industry, and this will be an interesting trend line to watch,” Bonnie Gwin, Vice Chairman and Co-Managing Partner of the CEO & Board Practice. More below, click here for the  Heidrick & Struggles' board diversity pledge.
Heidrick & Struggles

Women are half of HIV patients yet wildly underrepresented in drug and cure trials
Worldwide, there are 35 million people living with HIV; in Africa, new (and devastatingly avoidable) new infections are keeping the epidemic alive. Yet, gay men make up the majority of test subjects for a variety of medical trials. Only 11% of people in cure trials are women, 19% of participants in trials antiretroviral drugs are women. Vaccine studies fared the best, with 38% female participants. Differences in immune responses between men and women are well known, experts say – for example, a flu shot produces a much stronger response in women than men.
New York Times

Oklahoma schools add Sikhism to their social study standards
Oklahoma is now the ninth state to expand their education standards to include Sikhism. It’s a big victory for the Sikh coalition and their allies. “The accurate inclusion of Sikhism in more state standards across America is part of the Sikh Coalition’s efforts to ensure that all children feel represented, included and safe when they go to school,” the education director of the Sikh Coalition told NBC News. The Coalition requested the change in November 2018, and it was approved unanimously last February. Other states with Sikh-inclusive curricula are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Texas.
NBC News

On Background

What it really means to be an elite high school
L. Thomas, an education professor from Furman University and former high school English teacher, takes on the class and racial bias behind the lists of high-ranking public schools. He focuses on South Carolina, a state which ranks in the bottom ten of high poverty states, and a high black and Latinx population. A recent article explaining “what it takes” to be a high-performing school in the state triggered this pointed critique. “Across the U.S., there are some harsh facts about measurable student outcomes and demographics of students being served,” he writes. Race, poverty, first language, and special needs chiefly among them.” Therefore, these rankings and labels such as “elite” are gross misrepresentations of school quality, he says. And then, this: “Imagine if we had some hospitals that admitted only well patients and then ranked those against the hospitals serving curably sick patients as well as hospitals only admitting the terminally ill.” Imagine.

“When They See Us” actually sees them, and the many people like them
Remezcla’s Carlos Aguillar makes an important point in this early review of Ava DuVernay’s scripted retelling of the 1989 Central Park Five case When They See Us. “Instead of reiterating facts that have been documented in nonfiction work before, her take on the incident goes beyond the degrading headlines of the time and focuses on painting a portrait of the men at the center of this story,” he writes. But in particular, her portrayal of Raymond Santana Jr, who is Nuyorican, revealed the specific challenges Latinx people face in the justice and government system. “Plenty of Latinos born to immigrant parents know the feeling of having to serve as translator, to fend for themselves in situations where their parents are unequipped to offer support because of the language barrier, or because economic hardships prevent their guardians from being intensely involved in their affairs,” he writes.

The marshmallow test: Another iconic study gets a roasting
The marshmallow test was an important piece of social science research in the 19060s, believed to measure the ability to delay gratification and predict future success. It was simple: Place a marshmallow in front of a child and instruct her that she is free to eat that one now, but if she waits fifteen minutes, she can have two. The kids who can manage to hold out were once believed to have brighter futures. Turns out the original study was based on only 90 kids, enrolled in a preschool on the Stanford campus – and a follow-up showed that the marshmallow gobblers did no worse long term. A more recent study expanded the cohort to 900 more economically diverse kids, and a new interpretation emerged: For kids from poorer homes, eating the marshmallow in front of them may have been the smart choice. “For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting,” explains writer Jessica McCrory Calarco.
The Atlantic



One of the biggest problems I hear CEOs say about their VCs is that they want diversity on the board and team, but the VCs won't get off the board, and don't value the diversity work. Do that by getting out of the way.
—Ellen K. Pao