Rihanna's Stylist on RiRi Haters and How Kanye Brought Them Together

When was the last time you saw Rihanna not looking incredible? Ok, druggy Instagram pics excluded. We can't remember and that's all thanks to her current stylist Mel Ottenberg. Last night, at Opening Ceremony's launch of Rihanna for River Island and a RIHtrospective of Rihanna's best looks, we caught up with Ottenberg to chat about how he came to be Rihanna's stylist, his inspiration for her look, and what he thinks about her detractors.
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When was the last time you saw Rihanna not looking incredible? Ok, druggy Instagram pics excluded. We can't remember and that's all thanks to her current stylist Mel Ottenberg. Last night, at Opening Ceremony's launch of Rihanna for River Island and a RIHtrospective of Rihanna's best looks, we caught up with Ottenberg to chat about how he came to be Rihanna's stylist, his inspiration for her look, and what he thinks about her detractors.
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When was the last time you saw Rihanna not looking incredible? Ok, druggy Instagram pics excluded. We can't remember and that's all thanks to her current stylist Mel Ottenberg.

Well, maybe not all--the singer, who loves fashion so much she just launched a clothing line, has become a serious fashion influencer with her '90s streetwear-meets high fashion aesthetic (and an absurd body that can pull anything off).

Speaking of her clothing line-a capsule done in collaboration with River Island--it's all available to shop exclusively at Opening Ceremony in the U.S. starting today. We stopped by the Howard Street flagship last night to celebrate its launch and a mini retrospective showcasing some of Rihanna's best fashion moments.

While 25 may be a little young to be getting a retrospective, we think it's the perfect age for a RIHtrospective, which is what Opening Ceremony has set up. On view are seven iconic Rihanna performance looks from the past couple of years, from her Victoria's Secret Adam Selman gown and Chanel vintage jewelry, to the Adam Selman Bob Marley dress she wore on SNL.

In between gawking at those and contemplating a Rihanna x River Island purchase, we chatted with Ottenberg, who also styles for OC and magazines like Purple and i-D, about how he came to be Rihanna's stylist, his inspiration for her look, and what he thinks about her detractors.

Fashionista: How does one become Rihanna's stylist? Mel Ottenberg: I did work with Kanye West, who I love, and then he had a creative director who was working on some Rihanna stuff that just brought me into the fold on a job with Rihanna. Then they asked me to design her last tour after doing one job with them.

She must be a dream to work with since she seems totally willing to take risks and looks amazing in everything. Is there anything she says 'no' to? She’s very opinionated. She has a very specific idea about what looks good on her and she’s really smart about that and knows her arena. I mean, the thing she’s so good about is she’s great at looking great on the street, looking incredible on the red carpet, looking amazing in a show. All that stuff’s really different and I don’t think there’s anyone else that nails all those different things, so she really gets it, but she also is willing to let you play with different ideas.

How would you describe her style? It seems to be going in a '90s direction lately. I don’t think it's necessarily like I’m looking at the '90s in some really specific way, but I mean, I am a child of the '90s. I was 18 in 1994, so like what I think is cool from when I was 18, I still think is cool. But right now it's more about a vibe and less about a theme and it’s less about a costume, it’s just more about a cool feeling.

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What are some of your favorite brands to pull from? We’re really into Givenchy, Azzedine Alaia. We love Raf Simons; we love Lanvin; we love Jeremy Scott; we love Opening Ceremony and Kenzo. We got a lot of faves but those or on the tip of my tongue right now.

Do you have a favorite Rihanna look? I would say if anything this one’s my fave [points to black Victoria's Secret performance gown]. I think this would be one of her favorites, too.

Does it bother you when people criticize her outfit choices for being too crazy or revealing? Fuck no. The reaction of the people I know and respect and just strangers on the street is what I’m into. Someone criticizing her for wearing a bikini or something is very silly. I’m not paying attention to that.

Click through for more RIHtrospective pics!

Photos: Billy Farrell Agency