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Rihanna’s Stylist Mel Ottenberg on Her VMAs Outfits & Her ‘Ravenous Appetite’ for New Fashion

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Via Billboard: In the intersecting spheres of fashion and music, who yields more influence than Rihanna? The 28-year-old singer, whose forward-thinking and fearless approach to style nabbed her the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)’s Fashion Icon Award in 2014, has been known to move a brand’s entire inventory of $9,000 headphones with a single tweet.

What’s more, she’s launched the careers of half a dozen designers, including Adam Selman, and the designer of her dramatic 2015 Met Gala look, Guo Pei, simply by wearing one of their dresses. It’s little wonder that brands from Dior to MAC Cosmetics to Puma have lined up to work with her and her stylist of five years, Mel Ottenberg.

AWT with my lady friend @badgalriri

A post shared by Mel Ottenberg (@melzy917) on

Ottenberg, a longtime stylist and the fashion director of 032c magazine in Berlin, has been collaborating with Rihanna since her 2011 Loud tour — but they met long before that. In a recent chat, Ottenberg, 40, told us how the pair kicked off their professional relationship, the story behind Rihanna’s four outstanding VMA looks and how he satisfies the artist’s “ravenous appetite” for fashion.

How did you and Rihanna meet?
I met Rihanna a really long time ago. I did a shoot with her for Elle, and she was a young artist, and I really liked her. I remember running into her [years later] at a club, and when she came in she was like “Oh my god it was you,” and then we worked on this big performance in 2011.

Had you worked in an artist in that capacity before?
I’ve worked with a lot of celebrities, but just a shoot here and there, nothing like [what I’ve done with Rihanna] at all. I wanted to work with her because I knew that she had a lot of potential to do really great fashion stuff — you can tell she had fun with fashion and was fearless about it. I was doing some shoots with Kanye [West], and Willo [Perron] worked with Kanye at the time and then he worked with Rihanna, so I said, “Get me in with her, I really want to work with her, we could do great stuff together.”

What is the most challenging aspect of dressing Rihanna?
The challenge with her is she always wants to try something new, so I have to know what works, yet also try to push things forward, because this girl has already worn a million amazing outfits. She has a ravenous appetite for fashion.

How do you find new things to show her?
It would be great if there were enough things to excite me [on the runways], but there definitely aren’t, or at least not enough that would be right for the job at hand, so I end up making a lot of things and doing a lot of research in libraries. I also work with people that I trust and that I think can really show me great new ideas too, like Hood by Air, Adam Selman, Vetements. Also I like to show her stuff, see what gets her excited. I want her to feel really great and confident and sexy and cool and wearing an awesome outfit. I don’t want the clothes to do too much either, I want her to sing and feel great.

How much of what she wears is custom versus ready-to-wear?
It depends on what I’m doing. We just did VMAs, and I would say 70 percent of what she wore was custom.

How long did her VMA looks take to put together?
I started getting them together in mid-July, which was really crazy because fashion is dead in August, so I felt I was really up against a lot of obstacles. I was seeing all of fashion go on vacation in Greece on my Instagram feed, and I was like, “Fuck these people, I am working my ass off.”

What’s your best Rihanna memory?
Seeing her go on stage to get her 2014 CFDA Fashion Icon award in her crystal Adam Selman dress, sparkling on stage. The close second is all four performances at the VMAs the other night, that is hands-down my favorite performance moment with her.

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Savage X Fenty’s Summer Drop is Here

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New Savage X Fenty lingerie from the #UCUTE and #DAMN categories are out now! Check out the new drop of basics, lace slips, robes and more at SAVAGEX.com.

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Charity

Rihanna’s Fourth Diamond Ball to Be Held in NYC

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We are just two months away from this year’s Diamond Ball on September 13! Here‘s a look back at last year to start off our countdown:

The third Diamond Ball raised over $5 million to support CLF’s global education, health and emergency response programs around the world. The evening featured high-energy performances by Grammy Award-winning recording artists Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris.

“I am thrilled to bring the Diamond Ball to New York City and bring everyone closer to the mission, the partnerships, the programs and the people at the heart of it all,” said Rihanna at the 2017 Diamond Ball. “Together, we are funding groundbreaking and effective global education, health and emergency response programs. We are investing in the future and helping to improve the quality of life for young people and their families around the globe.”

Read more about Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation.

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Awards

Rihanna nominated for the 2018 MTV VMAs

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Congratulations to N.E.R.D and Rihanna! Their 2017 collab “Lemon” is nominated for Best Collaboration and Best Editing at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.

The 2018 VMAs will air live from Radio City Music Hall in New York on Monday, August 20. Vote here.

In 2016, Rihanna performed four times at the VMAs and took home the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award. Watch below:

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