In a world of phonies, Rihanna is the realest. How she manages this, we may never know.
THE FADER – As I’m writing this, there are members of the Rihanna Navy lined up on the sidewalk outside the Macy’s in downtown Brooklyn. They’re waiting for Rihanna to appear and perform at the unveiling of her seventh perfume, RiRi, on Monday. That’s in three days. They’ve been there since 6 a.m. Plenty of time to wonder what she’ll wear. What she’ll say.
I get it. I’ve waited for Rihanna too. In fact, I’m waiting for her right now. The whole deal with this cover story was that she wouldn’t grant us any facetime, or phone time, but agreed to answer five questions over email.
Thing is, I knew she could go ghost. Not just because she can, which she can. Not just because of Beyoncé’s recent Vogue September issue cover story, where Pulitzer-prize winner Margo Jefferson wrote a killer writearound with zero involvement or comment from Bey’s camp. But because I’ve been in exactly this position before—seven times, actually, if you count each leg of Rihanna’s 777 Tour in 2012.
From Mexico City to Berlin and Toronto to Stockholm, I’ve waited for Rihanna. Once, I waited on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport for three hours because she wasn’t quite finished shopping for lingerie at Chantal Thomas. After which she stopped at La Perla, another very nice underwear store. This was documented on Rihanna’s Instagram, and Just Jared’s. I think she ran into Puffy at La Perla.
At the time I—along with 140 other journalists, a handful of fans, and a caravan of international contest winners—was sleep-deprived, hungry, and utterly fucked sideways from back-to-back redeye flights. The tour was the brainchild of Rihanna and her manager Jay Brown. A Boeing 777 furnished by Delta would squire a roving enclave of carefully selected individuals to visit 7 countries in 7 days for 7 Rihanna concerts and parties to commemorate her 7th studio album in as many years.