Rihanna’s LVMH-backed fashion house Fenty is shuttering less than two years after its launch. The luxury conglomerate has pledged to support Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin and to back the businesswoman’s successful lingerie line Savage X Fenty, with the help of private equity giant L Catterton, which recently led a $115 million Series B fundraising round for the underwear arm of Rihanna’s Fenty umbrella.
“LVMH and Rihanna reaffirm their ambition to concentrate on the growth and the long-term development of the Fenty ecosystem, focusing on cosmetics, skincare and lingerie,” LVMH and Rihanna told WWD, citing the decision to put the ready-to-wear activity on hold as pending “better conditions”.
Indeed, the pandemic left Rihanna estranged from the Fenty atelier in Paris and the Italian manufacturing outlets that are vital to its direct-to-consumer retail model. For a hands-on designer – who once told Vogue, “I know what’s gone into the making of every single piece… if I can’t wear my stuff then it just won’t work” – this separation, during an incubation period when Rihanna was still getting a handle on the luxury fashion market – proved too costly. While the US-based Fenty Beauty soared in popularity, the European Fenty maison never gained global traction.
Eagle-eyed Rihanna fans will have already been pondering the reason why @Fenty stopped posting via Instagram on 1 January, and halted its six-to-eight week micro collection drops in November. Its last marketing push was around its second Amina Muaddi collaboration. The sass-laden heels, reflecting the Fenty DNA and Muaddi’s own feminine-meets-sculptural aesthetic, were a highlight of the Fenty offering, along with the Instagrammable sunglasses which found favour among the model set. WWD reports that it is understood the e-commerce site will go dark in the next few weeks.
Upon unveiling her groundbreaking Fenty fashion house and rewriting the rulebook at a storied luxury stable, Rihanna told Vogue, “I really appreciate that LVMH is flexible enough to allow me to have a different perspective on how I want to release things. Mr Arnault [Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO, LVMH] is not an idiot, he’s a very smart man and he’s open.” Ultimately, Fenty’s bottom line was not up to LVMH’s high standards in a tough climate for all fashion brands. Here’s hoping that fashion’s power player does not give up on the first luxury fashion brand it started from scratch – and the first helmed by a Black woman.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk