Rihanna teams up with LVMH to launch luxury fashion brand

Fiachra GIBBONS
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Rihanna has linked up with LVMH, the world's biggest fashion conglomerate, to launch her own Luxury brand

Rihanna has linked up with LVMH, the world's biggest fashion conglomerate, to launch her own Luxury brand (AFP Photo/Angela Weiss)

Paris (AFP) - Pop idol Rihanna said Friday that she will team up with French luxury giant LVMH to launch her own luxury fashion brand in spring, becoming the first black women to head up a house for the firm.

The new luxury house will be called Fenty after Robyn Rihanna Fenty, the full name of the Barbados-born superstar, who already has her own highly successful Fenty sportswear and Savage lingerie labels.

The world's biggest fashion conglomerate LVMH, which is owned by the industry titan Bernard Arnault, said the brand will be based in Paris and make ready-to-wear clothes, shoes and accessories.

"Mr Arnault has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits," Rihanna said.

"I couldn't imagine a better partner both creatively and business-wise, and I'm ready for the world to see what we have built together."

Rumours have been rife for months that LVMH, which owns such iconic brands as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Givenchy, was assembling a group of top designers for the project.

On Friday Arnault confirmed the rumours, saying that LVMH had built up a "talented and multicultural" team to support Rihanna's newest brand.

- 'True entrepreneur' -

With her huge fan base and nearly 170 million social media followers, Rihanna is one of the most powerful style influencers on the planet.

A new large-scale luxury label -- especially one led by a black woman -- is a huge development in the fashion world.

The top end of the market has been traditionally hogged by historic French and Italian houses.

Despite its dominance, LVMH has not started a luxury brand from scratch since Christian Lacroix in 1987.

Fashion insiders say the first creations for Rihanna's new line are likely to be unveiled later this month.

Fashion analyst Serge Carreira said the "relatively novel move (to set up the luxury house) makes complete sense.

"It is millennials who are driving growth in the luxury market," he told AFP.

And Rihanna personifies their values and the "battle for diversity, women's rights and a vision of the future," he added.

A regular on the front row of fashion shows, and particularly at Dior in Paris, the singer has also proved herself to be a canny creator.

As well as her existing Fenty sportswear line, Rihanna upped sales at Puma when she became its creative director, and has also dipped her toe into lingerie.

Her Fenty Beauty operation -- which is also involved a hook-up with LVMH -- racked up sales of more than $100 million within weeks of its 2016 launch.

"Everybody knows Rihanna as a wonderful singer, but through our partnership at Fenty Beauty, I discovered a true entrepreneur, a real CEO and a terrific leader," LVMH's Arnault said in a statement.

- New album also imminent -

Rihanna is not the only pop icon to have become a fashion industry player. Beyonce, who has her own Ivy Park and House of Dereon labels, last month signed a deal with German sportswear giant Adidas.

It already has a deal with rapper Kanye West, who has his own Yeezy brand and has made no secret of his ambition to lead a major Paris fashion house.

The fashion industry bible Women's Wear Daily has speculated that Rihanna's luxury brand could be launched alongside her ninth album.

The singer has been teasing the release of her long-awaited follow-up to her double-platinum 2016 album "ANTI" for months.

She told a BBC television chatshow last June that she was in the studio working on it and her best friend Jennifer Rosales said in March that the album was finished.

Black designers have been making dramatic inroads into the fashion industry of late, with the American Virgil Abloh the most talked about designer at recent Paris fashion weeks.

Abloh, whose parents come from Ghana, now heads LVMH's treasured Louis Vuitton menswear line as well as his own hugely cool Off-White Label.

Rihanna, who shot to fame with her "Music of the Sun" and "Good Girl Gone Bad" albums, is locked in a legal battle with her father over the use of the Fenty name.

Rihanna is suing her father Ronald Fenty over the use of the family name in his company, Fenty Entertainment.

Forbes magazine put the singer's net worth last year at $210 million.