The theme for Rihanna's Fall 2017 Fenty x Puma show in Paris was pretty clear once we received the invitation: With a letterman jacket-style "F" on one side and a so-called "detention slip" on the other, we sensed there would be some sort of angsty teen rebellion vibe, with a streetwear slant, of course. But we couldn't have guessed how far she would take it.
Puma has seen sales improve pretty consistently (in womenswear, at least) since bringing on Rihanna and other celebrity ambassadors (like Cara Delevingne, who sat front row with a hoodie covering her freshly dyed hair), and clearly the activewear brand is putting that revenue to good use. The venue was a stunning, enormous (easily the largest we've seen this week), old circular library complete with multiple floors of books that looked to be decades, if not centuries old, as well as long reading tables spanning the length of the room. Guests sat either at the tables or on benches around them, and as the lights went down, models began to appear on the upper levels of stacks doing their best modern-day "Breakfast Club" impressions, fucking with books, leaning against stuff they probably shouldn't have been leaning against, etc.
The real models, including Slick Woods (who opened), Lexi Boling, Binx Walton, Joan Smalls, Hanne Gaby, Stella Maxwell, Adwoa Aboah, Dilone and more then emerged, eschewing the floor and instead using the wooden tabletops as their runway. Somehow, the fact that the backdrop was (apparently) a real, super-old French library made the whole show feel even more "against the rules." Like, seriously, who let Rihanna and her troublemaking friends fuck this place up? Maybe it was OK because Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman of Kering (which owns Puma) and member of one of France's richest families, was there to chaperone.
The music was a loud, pulsating electronic mix, which fit well as a soundtrack to the wayward school girls and guys and, eventually, an abrasive light show of the sort you might expect from a live DJ act. And truth be told, the models were dressed more appropriately for a party environment than they were for school (maybe that's why they got sent to detention?). But the latter clearly served as inspiration. Think varsity sweaters — either oversize, ripped or cropped — all sorts of slouchy, puffy, oversize, Demna-esque outerwear with letterman-style "FS" logos; football uniform elements (but made "fashion"); school uniform elements like knee-high socks, pleated skirts and polo shirts; bear-shaped backpacks; loose, gym class-appropriate sweatsuits; (very) cropped tops; "F" baseball caps and more. And then, around look 44, we got to the goth section. Yep, not unlike any school cafeteria, there was a goth section, complete with green and pink hair, head-to-toe black, knee-length hoodies, dramatically dark eye makeup, septum piercings and flame motifs.
Without all the "extracurricular" (get it?) theatrics, the whole thing could have been a #dark throwback to high school. Instead, it was a cool, energized, over-the-top, one-of-a-kind experience that led to a minor social media-induced panic attack (Where do you point your camera?? What platform do you use first??) and left us excited to see where, and when, RiRi takes us next.