We've reached the portion of fashion week in which we, collectively, begin to feel a little tired. After four fully frenzied days and, of course, Saturday's (nearly) all-night rager that was #Wangfest, we're left to move a little slower on Sunday than we did, once bushy-tailed, on Thursday.
This being the brand's first time back on the New York Fashion Week calendar after a multi-season stint in Paris, the energy surrounding Rihanna's return was palpable from the moment we walked into the Park Avenue Armory on Sunday evening. Piles of 20-foot-high taffy pink sand — very Tatooine — sat in artfully placed banks on the floor in the dark, shining bright under hot flood lights. Alyssa and I watched as celebrities — Whoopi Goldberg, Ashley Graham, Diplo, Big Sean and Jhene Aiko, Cardi B and Offset — were paraded in, sinking into our seats where we assumed we would be for a while before the show started. But we weren't left waiting long, the show kicking off when the same pink sand began raining above the set.
That's when we heard the familar rev of an engine coming from backstage; before we knew it, the first moto-cross stuntman came roaring in, hightailing it to a ramp in the middle of the set where he soared into the air, landing on a raised platform on the opposite end of the armory. It was the best kind of fashion week surprise, where very few guests had the opportunity to pull their phones out to preserve the moment for Instagram.
Three more stuntmen followed, one of whom narrowly avoided disaster when he flipped too far off his bike mid-air and had to pull the seat under him to ensure he landed safely. This whole spectacular was the brainchild of Rihanna, after all, a woman who famously has a knack for adrenaline-fueled risk and danger that goes far beyond her adventurous personal style. With the entire audience suddenly awake — a mini-motocross rally will do that, I learned — the ensuing runway show was just as fun.
Slick Woods opened, sitting behind one of the stuntmen on his bike as they zoomed around the sand piles, and one of the more stellar model lineups of the season followed: Cara Taylor, Lexi Boling, Joan Smalls, Vittoria Ceretti, Grace Elizabeth, Duckie Thot, Adwoa Aboah, Mica Argañaraz and a whole stable of Victoria's Secret Angels like Taylor Hill, Stella Maxwell and a skin-tight scuba suit-clad Adriana Lima, who closed. Kaia Gerber also made an appearance, her third this season, with her itty-bitty hips swinging aggressively (and adorably) to the thumping bass.
The clothes adhered to the X Games theme, though not too literally that they verged on costume. There were a myriad of almost campy, '80s-era surf references, which were hinted at on the invitation which was titled "SOAKED." French cut neoprene swimwear and bodysuits played with functional rain apparel, like toggle-adorned track pants and jackets, as well as a series of harnessed mini-dresses that we can surely expect to see just about everywhere in six months' time. We bet the footwear will hit it big as well, with a bevy of new utilitarian heels, slides and work boots on offer for fall. The color palette, too, was just fantastic, with juicy, berry blues, punchy pinks, pineapple yellows and burnt oranges — surely representative of the technicolor world Rihanna (and Rihanna alone) inhabits.
As the lady of the hour zoomed by on the back of a bike for her finale bow, Alyssa and I turned to each other to remark how sad we were that it was all over. The show did what all of the best ones do: Immerse you in something else, somewhere else — in this case, a land of watermelon sand pits that bring you back to life for the second half of your NYFW.