Fancy doing a bit of Rihanna shopping?
Her collection for River Island has hit the stores. Fashion Editor Bairbre Power gives her verdict...
Rihanna has been on the cover of 'Elle' and compared to Princess Diana. She now has a fashion range for River Island, and there's an upcoming RiRi cosmetics range for MAC, due out in May.
But what of her River Island range which hits stores on Tuesday....
Reviews have been polarised, ranging from 'horror show' to pure love from her hardcore fans. So I headed to the River Island HQ in west London to see the clothes up close, and I was in for a few surprises -- starting with the discovery that Irish designer Ann-Marie Rigney from Shankill was the point of contact between Rihanna and River Island for the collection.
The singer's style DNA is ingrained in this collection, from her signature look of the tie-front skirt with shirt (€70) to her leather baseball cap (€32). It's pure Rihanna, right down to the image of the Egyptian goddess Isis, which the singer had tattooed on her chest in memory of her late grandmother.
The public will vote with its feet and fingers when the collection goes on sale in stores and online today (March 5).
Prices for the 45 pieces start at €25 for an oversized or crop tee, knot cami or tank, and run to €270 for a white leather varsity jacket, which has a limited-edition run of only 200 pieces.
Rihanna has been spotted wearing Chris Brown's varsity jacket in black, but her fans get it in white, and everything in the range comes with a metal dogtag with her trademark angular 'R' cut out of it.
I thought the parka was overpriced at €190, but loved the versatility and design of the dark blue one-piece boilersuit. Made from peach-feel, soft tencel twill, it comprises a two-piece at the back, with a flap-open back which flicks out over the pants and allows you to cool down. It's well priced at €110.
Stars in the collection include the two skirts with wraparound shirts. There's a navy jersey skirt with a denim shirt tied around it, and another version in black; both priced at €70.
Ann-Marie explained that they thought they had the wraparound concept nailed until Rihanna saw it and said, "that's not how I want it". It took a few attempts to get the casual, slung-around-shirt look right, but it looks authentically casual on the skirts, and this wrap device looks very luxe indeed on a yellow dress in stretch silk (€99) -- very ladylike, compared with the grungier street feel of the Rihanna string pieces.
There is, of course, a bralet in the mix, and the monochrome striped one (€40) will attract lots of attention; it looks great with the striped shorts (€45). You can complete the stylish boxer/leisure look with a shirt worn like a robe (€60).
Just like the woman herself, the Rihanna collection for River Island is full of contradictions, such as the high-necked crop tops, but therein lies a tale. Rihanna went for tighter necklines over wider ones, and the end product is modern. She has also played around with plain fronts and backs with a twist. The jersey LBD she wore on launch night is a poly mix with 5pc elastane. Plain at the front, it has a low criss-cross detail on the back and comes in black and charcoal (€55).
Meanwhile, a daytime top (€45) with high neck and half sleeves features a little window and knot detail at the back.
If it's your legs you want to show off, the €80 fine-gauge, high-octane knit tube dresses in cream or black look the part. Less flashy but equally fleshy are the thigh-slashed skirts in grey or navy elastane jersey (€55).
Ann-Marie praised Rihanna for having "a very strong eye for, and interest in, fabrics", and an early prototype for a slinky long skirt was changed when the star requested drier, heavier fabric with an urban feel. The singer's hands-on approach saw her pinning fabrics and sharing pieces from her own wardrobe for designs.
The black, dungaree-front, overalls-style maxi with generous skirt is my favourite, and the metres of viscose voile gleam like an expensive spun cotton.
There are also five styles of boots, but the limited-edition, military-inspired lace-up boots (€200) are destined to be eBay stars.
Celebrity fashion collaborations aren't always a sellout, with judicious shopping recently from the Versace and Maison Martin Margiela ranges at H&M. Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port's fashion ranges had mixed fortunes on the high street, and while the Kardashian Kollection brought curious shoppers into Dorothy Perkins, I don't think the quality of the fabrics matched the price points.
On the more successful side, Kate Moss led the celebrity collaboration way at Topshop, Holly Willoughby has nailed her bosomy look for very.co.uk, and Olivia Palermo doesn't seem to be far off launching her own range.
Either way, by May there will be another drop of Rihanna styles into River Island, and she's already inked an autumn/winter 2013 collection.