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How stylist Mel Ottenberg transformed Rihanna from sexy singer to fashion force


Adam Selman, Mel Ottenberg, Rihanna

Adam Selman, Mel Ottenberg, Rihanna

Adam Selman, Mel Ottenberg, Rihanna

Having won the coveted Fashion Icon of the Year title at the CFDA Awards, there is no disputing that Rihanna is the most influential clothes horses in the music industry.

Her position as a global trend influencer is due to the talents of her stylist Mel Ottenberg.

Ottenberg, a New York native told Style magazine, “Her love of fashion, her becoming such a genius at using fashion as a creative expression, that’s sort of blossomed in the past couple years.”

He is adamant that the Bajan beauty has her own innate sense of style- he just saw the potential to take things up a notch.

Such is Rihanna’s power to influence trends, renowned designers such as Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci and Alber Elbaz have clamoured to make custom looks for her recent international tours.

Ottenberg traces what he calls the “Rihanna effect” back to the award winning music video for ‘We Found Love’ in 2011



The video, shot on location in Northern Ireland, features the record breaking singer in over-sized camouflage shirts, stirrup tights, bandanas and Levi shorts.

In fact, most of the looks were pulled from Ottenberg’s boyfriend’s wardrobe.

The boyfriend in question is Adam Selman- long term collaborator on Rihanna’s stage costumes and the creative mind behind her capsule collections with River Island.

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The powerhouse couple pulled off their biggest feat to date for Rihanna’s controversial outfit for the CFDA awards- the unforgettable sparkling mesh number that was featured on every media outlet in the world after the ceremony in May.



Ottenberg, who has also styled celebrities including Cate Blanchett and Chloe Sevigny, insists he was unaware of the stir the dress would cause,

“I don’t know if it’s shocking—I’m with her all the time, so my shock gauge is off, but I told her that I thought she was ready for this dress a while ago, and that I wasn’t. I’m the prude, and I’m just catching up.”

Ottenberg maintains,

“She’s daring, she’s bold, and she’s not afraid of fashion. She doesn’t let fashion overcome her. She embraces it and makes everything she puts on her own. Not many people do that.”

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