RiRi is poised to be the next LV of lust-worthy monograms.
Friday’s announcement that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton will launch a new Paris-based Fenty maison “centered on Rihanna, developed by her, and taking shape with her vision in terms of ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories, including commerciality and communication of the brand” marks the first time the luxury conglomerate has launched a fashion brand from scratch since it set a couture house for Christian Lacroix in 1987. Only this time, it’s with a celebrity — who will also be the first black woman to head an LVMH brand — and the development could change the future of Hollywood dealmaking in the fashion space.
“Instead of having celebrity faces like Natalie Portman at Dior or Nicole Kidman at Chanel, it’s now about how a celebrity can own a brand,” said Stacy Jones, chief executive officer of entertainment marketing firm Hollywood Branded Inc., who credits the groundbreaking LVMH deal on Rihanna’s demonstrated success as a singer, actress and marketer who is able to move Fenty beauty products with an Instagram post. She also touted the legacy of the Kardashians and celebrity-businessmen including George Clooney, whose tequila company Casamigos sold for $1 billion last year (which in turn sparked a slew of other actors, including Ryan Reynolds, jumping into the alcohol sector).
“In the past, celebs have become brand ambassadors, and they have had partnerships that involved this many days of PR, event attendances, this many photo shoots, video shoots and usage rights. The celeb didn’t really participate in the creative process,” said Jones. “But with the advent of social media, people started seeing they could take more control, because they could start seeing the impact they were having on the brand.
“The Kardashians have created a global monopoly of beauty lines, and have realized how much they can make if they have ownership. Rihanna is the same model,” she added. “She wants to own something and partnering with a leading luxury brand offers a massive opportunity to work across categories.”
Proving the power of the pop star’s following, only hours after LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton officially confirmed the establishment of her new Paris-based fashion house, more than 150,000 joined the brand’s Instagram account, which has no posts yet. As of Sunday afternoon, the following swelled to 240,000.
To be sure, the project significantly raises the bar for celebrity-led fashion brands, given LVMH’s mighty finances, access to prime retail space, expertise across an array of luxury goods, and penchant for directly controlling production and distribution.