Monday in Paris, Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma line paraded under the moniker “F.U.”—Fenty University—and its attitude was purely that: rugby separates in ragamuffin cuts that were meant to recall the grunge-era kids who got sent to the “alternative” high school for being teen pregnant or smoking too much weed. (Maybe that was just my personal hometown.)
It opened in a library with kids hanging off the rafters, like Hogwarts if the riff raff had taken over—or detention with the bad crew carving their names into the desks. Opening with rather eerie children’s choral rendition of “Creep,” models skulked down runways made of formal tables and decorated with banker’s lamps, bringing Parker Posey’s iconic library dance scene from Party Girl to life.
Collegiate logos on generous-sleeved and slouchy sweatsuits was the leading look, a prep school gone bad narrative that married Rihanna’s penchant for sportswear with her rebellious spirit. The Umbro-checked breakaway pants in orange and maroon and gigantic sleeping bag coats in blue plaid and canary yellow were the clear highlights of the collection, though proportionally it made me wonder if everyone’s reacting to the Vetements effect a bit too seriously, like the cult Parisian brand’s outsized imagining of classics is more influential than it should be.
Still, there’s nothing better than a sweater you can lose yourself in, and if there’s one thing I know about teen delinquency (besides everything), it’s that long arms are better for hiding cigarettes from your mom and cassingles from the clerks at the store where you’re shoplifting them. And despite certain looks that, off-runway, seem like they’ll only translate to Rihanna herself (i.e., the pea-brown knit jumper above), there was plenty to covet individually. Those sleeping bag coats!
As a practical fashion item, this is an awesome take on a useful staple, and it looks reversible! Still, this look embodies why I’m not all-in for this collection: the styling is weird (that crop top and those boxers are giving me middle school slumber party more than badgal looking to wreck shit) and, again, it’s the Demna Gvasalia effect in the footwear, those slouchy Wellingtons calling to mind the designer’s Spring ‘17 looks. I suppose it’s a smart gamble, as Rihanna stans are as or more likely to worship at the Vetements house as any, but still, it detracts from what overall is a really fun concept and collection.
At any rate, I leave you with a look that embodies the spiritual essence that Rihanna exudes, the one that brands like Puma are so desperate to bottle and possess and then sell to us, the willing masses: Joan freakin’ Smalls in thigh high football boots and a leotard, giving face and skulk at the same dang time.