No wings? No problem.
Last September, Rihanna put on a fashion show for her lingerie line Savage X Fenty that blew every other runway out of the water, thanks to truly diverse casting (including a then-pregnant Slick Woods, who went into labor backstage). But if the Fall 2018 collection was the superstar’s way of putting her sharp stiletto on Victoria’s Secret’s neck, the Fall 2019 blowout — hosted at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and set to air on Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 20 — proved that she’s ready to finish the job.
Calling the show a “runway” would do it a disservice; it was a concert, a live music video set, a multi-disciplinary performance piece and a catwalk all rolled into one 40-minute long spectacular. It opened with Rihanna surrounded by dancers, all dressed in Savage X Fenty, all absolutely killing it with their dance moves elevated on platforms. Things seamlessly rolled into performances from the likes of Big Sean and A$AP Ferg, Migos, DJ Khaled and Fat Joe, Tierra Whack and Fabolous, with supermodels like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Joan Smalls, Cara Delevingne and Alek Wek sweeping through the scene like bejeweled goddesses in between sets. Models not your thing? There was also Normani, leading a dance crew, or Laverne Cox, strutting and kicking across the stage.
But it was around the time that Halsey took the stage that it clicked: The Savage X Fenty Show is everything the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show wishes it could be — or, more truthfully, everything it should be. It couldn’t quite be a coincidence that Halsey also performed at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, only to denounce it on the night it aired following the controversial comments from CMO Ed Razek. She certainly hadn’t been out of place on that glittering runway, but slinking down steps in Savage X Fenty lingerie and grinding against a crew of dancers, Halsey seemed much more at home on Rihanna’s set than she ever had surrounded by impossibly-gorgeous Angels.
That’s likely because the stage was absolutely packed with people of all different shapes, sizes, skin tones, genders and abilities — real people who were no less impressive for their approachability. Like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, there was no shortage of star power, but here, the performances felt integrated into the runway rather than something happening awkwardly in the middle of it. The lingerie, in bright neon tones, was good, though phones were virtually confiscated to prevent any leaks ahead of air date, so you’ll just have to wait a few more weeks to see it for yourself.
And the audience responded to all of this genuinely; even jaded fashion editors had to admit it was fun. Did the Savage X Fenty Show need to happen during New York Fashion Week? Well, no. (In fact, it might be preferable for almost everyone that it not happen that time of year again.) But did it bring something much needed — that is to say, real, genuine inclusivity — to the week’s proceedings? Hell yea it did.
All in all, it’s been a rough year for Victoria’s Secret, who may not even put on its annual blockbuster show this year. And really, after watching the Savage X Fenty Show, they might not want to. This one is going to be very, very hard to top.
In case you missed it, click through the gallery below to see all the best celeb attendee looks from Savage X Fenty Show.