Rihanna Taps Adam Selman For Savage X Fenty's First-Ever Designer Collaboration

He designed Rihanna's iconic CFDA Awards naked dress. Now, they're collaborating on lingerie for Valentine's Day.
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Paloma Elsesser and Adam Selman on set for the Savage x Adam Selman campaign. 

Paloma Elsesser and Adam Selman on set for the Savage x Adam Selman campaign. 

To say Rihanna's Savage X Fenty had a blockbuster year would feel like a slight understatement. There was the blowout runway show, the $50 million fundraise, and as it closed out 2019, the lingerie brand announced it was introducing a brand ambassador program. (Its first spokesperson? Normani.) And it's wasting no time in making headlines in 2020: This Valentine’s Day, Savage X Fenty will release a capsule designed in partnership with Adam Selman — its first collaboration of sorts. 

Of course, Selman and Rihanna have a storied history — never forget the CFDA Awards naked dress — and this collection is but another entry in their creative collaboration. 

Rihanna in the Savage X Adam Selman collaboration.

Rihanna in the Savage X Adam Selman collaboration.

"I think Rihanna and I have such a great, fluid way of working together. She really trusts me, and I really look to her because she's so ahead of the pulse. She's always so instinctual about fashion — that drives me to make sure that I'm impressing her with something uniquely different," Selman tells Fashionista. "Because of that pressure and because of the past, I don't really feel that pressure [with this collection] because we've worked together so much."

This capsule has been a year and a half in the making. "It started in 2018, actually — I don't remember how, exactly, she approached me, but I feel like I saw her somewhere and she whispered in my ear, 'You have to do Savage X Fenty with me,'" Selman remembers. "I just looked at her and was like, 'Okay.'" She followed up with him a few days later, and he officially signed on. 

Fiffany Luu in the Savage X Adam Selman campaign.

Fiffany Luu in the Savage X Adam Selman campaign.

The extended timeline was partly due to the production schedule for the brand. At the same time, Selman was pivoting his namesake brand from runway and ready-to-wear into Adam Selman Sport. He sees a few common threads between lingerie and athletic wear — namely, the "movement, performance, showmanship and empowerment" that they can offer the person wearing it. "I think that they go hand in hand," he says.

Joan Smalls also appears in the campaign.

Joan Smalls also appears in the campaign.

Adam Selman for Savage X Fenty debuts on Jan. 1, with additional drops planned through April 2020. There are 19 pieces total, priced from $16 to $84; there are also two Xtra VIP Boxes — one called Locket Down ($59.95) and another called Down the Aisle ($39.95). Sizes range from 32A to 42DD and XS to 3X.

... as does Adesuwa.

... as does Adesuwa.

In terms of the Valentine's Day-themed collection, "I definitely wanted it to feel like a mix between Rihanna and me, as well as the Savage X customer who's just unabashedly herself. I wanted it to have a little bit of frill and a little bit of ruffle, but I wanted to have a little bit of sleaze, too — and I'm using 'sleaze' as a good word, because I wanted it to be really sexy and fun," he says. You get the "wink and nod" that's typical of Selman's designs, plus "that sexy component Rihanna brings to life," mixed in with pieces that aren't strictly lingerie and can be incorporated into your outside-world wardrobe.

... and Elsesser.

... and Elsesser.

Given Savage X's size range — XS to 3X — the extensive fit process was new to Selman. "Savage X brought me out for every single fitting. Before we presented things to Rihanna, I would go ahead and fit everything in advance on three different sizes," he explains. "Because of the size range that Savage X is able to do, I really learned a lot about the fit and the process and the bodies. I wanted to make sure that in my collaboration I offered the exact same thing for a straight-sized model to a curvy [model]."

Elsesser and Smalls.

Elsesser and Smalls.

"Just being there for every single fitting was pretty fascinating," he adds. "If you have never seen Rihanna fit a panty, you're really missing out."

After years of collaborating, Selman says the biggest thing he's learned from Rihanna has been confidence, at every step of the way: "She's so good about that. She's so pointed about everything that she wants and what her vision is. I think that she really taught me that it is about confidence — the clothes can give you that confidence, but also building the clothes with confidence is such a key part of the process."

See every single item in Savage X Adam Selman in the gallery below.

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