SAVAGE NOT SORRY
THE ULTIMATE PLAY-BY-PLAY OF SAVAGE X FENTY VOLUME 2
Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show Volume 2 dropped on Amazon Prime on October 2nd and has been on repeat on my screen (and in my head) ever since. Savage X Fenty becomes more than just a fashion show during its 56-minute runtime, embodying the true meaning of diversity and empowerment in a manner so effortless that such grandeur doesn’t feel forced to the viewer. Massive kudos is owed to the choreographer of the show, Parris Goebel, who worked on the previous Savage X Fenty show and is a personal inspiration to Rihanna herself. This is translated as each of the 165 different looks become alive on-screen, moving with the all-inclusive selection of body types in ways that highlight the natural jiggles and bounces that empowered people love to flaunt.
Rihanna includes a personal touch throughout the presentation of her lingerie line, with excerpts from her journal and video footage detailing her journey with the brand highlighting her hands-on approach. She mentions her desire for the collections wants to be practical, as well as make those wearing the clothes to feel comfortable - something I find many male designers of lingerie forget, placing the focus on aesthetic above all else.
The show is organised into different chapters. Each perfectly unique yet this structure aids the viewer in understanding Rihanna’s journey and intent with the brand, and what it is truly about. It also allows the viewers to watch each set of lingerie and outfit in action on different models and in different lighting, a privilege that is not afforded during traditional catwalks.
*Skin…Touch…Feel...* These are the opening lines of the first section of the show. Unusual language to use as we are in the midst of a pandemic, but nonetheless inviting, as the camera focuses on a single model dancing in the silhouettes of text. The model walks across the shot, revealing an array of models in dark lingerie and fishnets decorated with beautiful graphic makeup. Rosalía takes the stage with a breathtaking performance and powerful choreography before the scene cuts to Rihanna writing in a diary. The cut scene during this section involves Rihanna, Cara Delevigne, Erika Jayne, Normani, and Jazzelle discussing reading their past diaries before transitioning into the following section.
Viewers are given a peek behind the curtain into the process of Savage X Fenty and how involved the singer-turned-entrepreneur is when it comes to the nuances of brand and business. In this chapter, we hear from Jenifer Rosales, the show's Executive Producer, who sings Rihanna’s praises regarding her eye for detail, as well as Design Director, Emily Whithead, who highlights the fun elements Rihanna brings to the design process.
The Black Widow section opens up onto a ring of striking women, with a lone dancer killing it in the middle, like the sexiest dance battle ever. The dark lighting and sultry lingerie create an intriguingly sexy atmosphere where models including; Indya Moore, Precious Lee, Alva Claire, Bella Hadid, Demi Moore, Jaida Essence Hall, Big Sean and Normani all take part in a wonderfully choreographed dance sequence that is essentially a tribute to the holy grail that is fishnet stocking. This sequence ends with performances from DJ Mustard, Ella Mai and Roddy Rich, leading us into Mood.
Mood opens on Jaren Merrel applying her own abstract make-up to a voiceover of Rihanna celebrating how people, particularly drag queens, utilise “colours, paint, make-up and textures” to embody new personas. Viewers are then treated to interviews with Rico Nasty, Giarda Hall, Precious Lee, Willow Smith, Soo Joo Park, Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Miguel and Rihanna, each highlighting how they embrace fashion, hair and cosmetics to express their different personalities.
This segment is potentially one of my favourites as it opens fantastically strong with Lizzo dancing in a gorgeous electric blue set. Rocking white trainers with the lingerie, she embodies Rihanna’s belief that you should wear what makes you feel comfortable.
He Loves Me
Obscured by a mirror, Lizzo’s scene moulds into another dancer’s set which emphasises how well the Savage X Fenty products mould to the body. Big shout out to the durability of her fishnets and to the return of long gloves (a favourite touch of mine *insert winky face*).
A voiceover from Rihanna discusses sexuality as the camera pans over a group of models that are all different in some way, shape or form. We are then shown different snapshots of Rihanna herself looking *chef's kiss* as she discusses sexuality further. Rihanna is joined in speaking on the subject by Paloma Elesser, Gigi Goode, Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Laura Harrie and Raisa Flowers all of whom contribute to this dialogue what sexuality means to each of them personally. Adesuwa Aighewi and Jazzelle Zanaughtti show off the amazing electric blue lingerie set, segwaying into Bad Bunny’s performance – which he smashes in an outfit resembling that of Borat ("very nice").
Bad Bunny provides the perfect oxymoronic lead into the garden set – an ethereal wonderland decorated to surreal perfection. A male model shows off a pair of pink silk boxer shorts amongst a sea of female models in the lilac range. Dancing among the giant flowers, each models ballet-esque choreography maintains the ethereal aura of the set, culminating in a detailed group routine. Following this routine the vibe shifts and we are greeted with strobe lighting and a music switch- signalling a mood modification. Paloma Elesser, Ciarda Hall, Nadia Lee Cohen, Kitty Louvit, Irina Shayk, Noah Carlos, Laura Harrier all star in this segment, donning latex gloves and stockings.
The focus then turns to a giant yet-to-bud neon flower illuminated in the centre of the garden, blooming to reveal Rihanna herself in a floral set. Her flower boa steals the show as she does her own solo catwalk through the array of models dancing, before returning to her flower, giving one last smoulder before the petals close behind her. After this magical strut, Miguel takes to the garden stage, dancing with Nazanin Mandi and killing it with the vocals, choreography and the styling (side note: gimme his jewellery).
Miguel’s electric performance allows a swift transition into the Community chapter of the show as Rihanna discusses how she wants to make things for the people she knows and love – no matter who they are or what they look like. We hear from Jennifer Rosales, Erika Jayne, Yusef Williams, Margie Plus and Lunell all speaking on Rihanna’s inclusivity and how she opened the door for so many people and concepts within different industries.
The finale of the Savage X Fenty Show takes place within the workshop and I cannot stress enough how much everyone needs to see this section, even if you don't want to watch the rest of the show. The models, the colours, the music, the set, the clothes, it is EVERYTHING. It opens with an oiled and ~buff~ male model, Soouizz, strutting his stuff down the workshop runway in a pair of red boxers. This then pans to a group of female models dancing on what looks like a production line. Neon green is the primary colour of the set and it makes everything POP, a very wise choice by the set designers, as it allows each piece of lingerie to stand out. The workshop was the longest scene to film of the entire show with constant dancing occurring in the background and standout appearances from:
Jane Oranika looks fly in a black lounge set
Dexter Mayfield absolutely kills it with the choreography
Paris Hilton embodies the phrase “that’s hot” in a bright pink set
Margie Plus gives some plus-sized glory to the the same pink set
Willow Smith serves smouldering looks with a black robe and lingerie
070 Shake defines androgyny whilst showing off a black robe
Jaren Marrell brings *it* in a long sleeved leotard on the runway
Gigi Goode follows Marrell’s lead and serves in the blue set with high waisted fishnets
Rico Nasty takes centre stage in a whirlpool of dancers, rocking a pair of gorgeous gloves
Irina Shayk owns the catwalk, showing us exactly why she sits at the top in the modelling industry
Erika Jayne shows us she’s still got it with black heart nipple pasties and silk robe
Christian Combs epitomises suave as he performs a catwalk of his own
Rihanna, the queen herself enters the workshop in a gorgeous black ensemble, beaming at those around her and basking in the pride of her insane success – as she should be!
The group sequences are incredible, and Parris Goebel deserves another shout out as the choreography is truly outstanding. Rihanna chose each outfit flawlessly and every single person involved is complimented by what they are wearing. The closing of the show, with Rihanna and Christian Combs joining all of the models and dancers, is a picture-perfect moment that cements the inclusive ethos of the Savage X Fenty brand.
In the cacophony of praises that rained down in response to the Vol 2 show, backlash from the Muslim community highlighted that the incorporation of the song Doom by Coucou Chloe, which includes a sacred Muslim text, was highly offensive. Instead of ignoring or burying the criticism, Rihanna issued an apology immediately and publicly via her Instagram account demonstrating that admitting to our mistakes and growing from them is always the better path to take.
Despite the oversight, Savage X Fenty Vol 2 broke ground on the diversity front, and unlike other brands drowning in performativity, Rihanna did not stop there. The Savage X Fenty Website reflected their commitment to diversity with a very specific and positive focus placed on the male model, Steven G; emphasising the need for further diversity within the modelling industry overall, whether by sex, gender, body, race or religion. Rihanna's transparency when it comes to casting is one of her movements that sets the brand apart from its competition, having previously stated that she doesn’t care “about size, shape, or colour”, “inclusivity is second nature” to her – a sentiment that is felt strongly throughout each performance and embodied in the show’s motif –
“Be Savage, Not Sorry”
With spectacular performances, breathtaking models, illuminating sets, a mesmerising collection and a proud brand, Rihanna was once again coronated queen of her craft as the curtains drew to a close.
Words and Art by Alex Hauger (@nudesandcoffee)