Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION
Rihanna's Fenty x Puma Spring 2018 runway show was an evening to remember and surely an event that will be talked about for the weeks to come, and with reason. Much like the Tom Ford runway show, the Park Avenue Armory was once again hardly recognizable, this time transformed into a lunar-like landscape, pink mountains of sand sitting in pitch darkness. Guests were seated amidst photographer flashes and journalist murmurs as they documented the star studded front rows – Whoopi Goldberg, Ty Dolla $ign, Ashley Graham, The Fendis, Offset from Migos, Big Sean, Jhené Aiko, Joey Bada$$, and Cardi B to name a few. Those in attendance walked around the mystifying set taking the usual selfies, many noticing flanking ramps, and most definitely speculating what they were for.
The attendees did not have to wait long for an answer; the show opened to the sound of a tribal-like dubstep track and various motocross stuntmen, all decked out in Puma and roaring out of the runway entrance, jumping into aerials and somersaulting over the set using the ramps. The Armory had suddenly been turned into an X-Games motorbike arena on the moon. At that point, sitting on the edge of my seat along with everyone else and delighted to have braved the hour commute to make it, I looked around and wondered if most guests – mesmerized by bikers flying through pink dust falling from the ceiling while performing 360 tricks, cadenced by the track’s rattling infectious bass line – were so electrified that they had temporarily forgotten altogether where they were. That’s how impressive the setting was.
And that’s just the obvious, more surface effect part of it all. What made it all the more impressive was the rigorous research work, thought and planning that had been put into creating this setting to showcase the collection. It was all sensory pleasing, and that might have been enough, but that was just part of it.
Aside from figuring out what accurate space and speed the bikers needed to safely perform their tricks in a closed space without endangering anyone – which I only imagine was already a technical headache added to every other detail the production team had to think about – the space had been set up for everything to look perfect. The pitch black room paired with bright and seamlessly placed lights provided guests and photographers with ideal conditions to shoot and post away. From the designers’ standpoint, the pink mountains offered the most flattering back drop as the models strolled around wearing Rih's electric blue, bright orange, and highlighter green futuristic-yet-wearable sportswear (or is athleisure still suitable these days?)
The last biker passed an applauding crowd and the presentation began. Interestingly, the bulk of the collection and key items – including race biker suits, logo rash guards, terry towelling tracksuits, spandex bike shorts, voluminous cargo pants, and oversized leather motojackets – easily fit the overarching BMX meets X-Games theme of the evening's pyrotechnics. Featured alongside these more sporty pieces was a debut swimwear line comprised of scuba-style bikinis and mono–kinis layered under parkas and hoodies, all adorning industrial zippers, slick trimmings, toggles, and lacing.
The footwear was not to be overlooked either, especially considering how commercially successful Fenty shoe's have been in the past. That Rihanna is the first woman to have won Footwear News’ coveted Shoe of the Year award probably made it a focal points for all of the editors, myself included. The popular creeper trainers were updated with translucent soles and neoprene details, Rihanna's cult pool slides were re-envisioned as bright leather espadrille like slip-ons, and a new pièce de résistance was presented in the form of stiletto-thong sandals finished with surf-style ankle straps.