Last night at the CFDA Awards, Rihanna proved that she truly deserved the Fashion Icon Award. Pushing boundaries like only Rihanna can, she wore a custom-made “fishnet” dress made of 216,000 Swarovski crystals. But why is this outfit making so many headlines? Because Rihanna once again showed her nipples.
The dress, designed by Adam Selman, Rihanna’s “personal costumier,” did feature flesh-toned underwear, but Rihanna’s chest was unmistakably visible. This outfit, however, was not extremely surprising given Rihanna’s recent headlines. Starting this past April, Rihanna has been greatly associated with controversies over social-networking app Instagram’s topless policy. Last summer, cousins Elizabeth Siematkowski and Rachael Yaeger took to Instagram to create their project ToplessBladingTM. Since then, celebrities have been sparking controversy by posting their own topless pictures on Instagram. As these photos were taken down, movements such as #FreeTheNipple have fought back. Rihanna has become a figurehead since pictures from a photo shoot of hers were deemed unsuitable for Instagram – the app even threatened to delete her account. Needless to say, Rihanna did not back down – she just tweeted instead.
Then this past May, Scout Willis (the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis) decided to protest Instagram’s reaction to Rihanna’s pictures. She decided to walk around New York City topless, something many people don’t actually realize is legal. Street performer Holly Van Voast dealt with this issue firsthand – she was arrested multiple times for simply going topless in New York City. She then successfully sued the NYPD for wrongful arrests. Scout Willis, however, was never arrested, but she sure got a lot of media attention.
Whether or not Rihanna’s CFDA dress was a direct response to these Instagram controversies, it was definitely inline with her ideals. As The Telegraph Fashion reports, Vogue editor Anna Wintour recognizes the power of Rihanna’s fashion choices. Last night, as the infamous editor presented Rihanna with the Fashion Icon Award, saying: “The point is to be audacious, even jaw dropping or button pushing – and yes we know [Rihanna] enjoys pushing buttons – while remaining true to yourself.”
Despite all the debates over Rihanna’s contentious outfits, the singer has stayed true to her fight for female empowerment. She said it all in her acceptance speech last night: “She can beat me, but she cannot beat my outfit.”