It’s official: Rihanna and LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate, are launching a luxury brand together. Called Fenty, it will stand alongside brands that include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine, Givenchy, Fendi, and others in LVMH’s fashion division.
LVMH confirmed the news, which had been rumored for months, by announcing the new “luxury Maison”—French for “house,” the term hearkens back to the days when couturiers whipped up majestic dresses for clients in private ateliers. The company says Fenty will be “centered on Rihanna, developed by her, and takes shape with her vision in terms of ready to wear, shoes, and accessories, including commerciality and communication of the brand.” The label will be based in Paris, and will debut this spring. A website with the name and logo is already live.
Fenty’s launch is an unprecedented move for LVMH—really for the whole luxury fashion business. Luxury houses have historically grown up around designers, not burst into existence around pop stars. The last label LVMH started from scratch, rather than acquiring, was Christian Lacroix in 1987. Rihanna will be the first woman, and the first woman of color, to launch a house with the company.
It’s a testament to how the luxury universe keeps changing. Once the preserve of a small, wealthy clientele, it has in the past several decades worked to reap a growing mountain of profits from a much broader audience, expanding more into products such as accessories and makeup, and branching into new locales. Bernard Arnault, who runs LVMH, was a pioneer of this course, as author Dana Thomas detailed in her book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster.
At the same time, music and entertainment—hip-hop in particular—have embraced luxury and helped to popularize it even more. Today luxury labels are striving to be inclusive rather than exclusive, especially as new generations of shoppers prioritize a brand’s values when deciding what to buy.
Rihanna has already proved adept at connecting with a global, young, diverse, digitally minded audience, not just through her music but through products, such as her successful makeup line. Now LVMH is lifting her up as the face of a new era of luxury.