Rihanna's Stylist on Being Among Few People Working for a Black Woman

Rihanna's Stylist on Being Among Few People Working for a Black Woman
From WWD - February 8, 2018

Rihannas Fenty beauty and fashion lines are becoming a major part of the conversation around diversity in the fashion industry.

Even though she wasnt there, the pop star andcultural touchstone came up again and again during the Black Fashion Founders Forum held at Googles New York headquarters and sponsored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, as speakers pointed to her growing work in the fashion industry as an example of how powerful and popular inclusion is.

Jahleel Weaver, Rihannas stylist and a junior creative director at Fenty, said hes just grateful to be able to say I work for a black woman, when asked by moderator Rikki Byrd, a professor at Washington University, what its like being part of a one of the few companies that sees black people as a priority.

Im blessed to be able to say that and to go to work every day and see black people, he added.

As for the idea Byrd floated that Fenty Beauty, which is owned by LVMH, has started a revolution in the industry by offering a much wider range of makeup shades and using diverse models on the runway with her Puma collection, Weaver demurred slightly and said, [Rihanna] just did what she saw.

She always says the first woman she saw put on makeup was a black womanher mother, Weaver said. It was natural for her to obviously appeal to that, but also to appeal to all women. Is she the first person ever to offer dark skin foundations? No. But is she the first person to maybe market to them in a very long time?

I feel like there are some companies now that are seeing theres a demand for this and saying Oh, well weve had this forever. But its like, did you not market to them because you thought you wouldnt make money? But Im happy that she started this conversation, to say [to the beauty and fashion industries] Hey. These are people and we have a lot of money to spend and if you show up for them, theyll show up for you.

There is certainly demand for Fenty Beauty. While her products are frequently sold out of Sephora, another LVMH property that has an exclusive deal to carry the line, the brand is also on track to outperform powerhouse lines like Kylie Cosmetics and KKW by Kim Kardashian.

Bethann Hardison, a former model who went on to start a modeling and talent agency in the Eighties and subsequently started Diversity Coalition, which encourages the fashion industry to be more inclusive, made sure to point out that there have indeed been brands that focused on the black woman market, like Black Opal and Revlon. But she admitted all were maybe not marketed as well.

But the issue of diversity goes well beyond beauty products and even seeing black women on magazine covers and in advertising campaigns, which Hardison said she doesnt see as the biggest issue in the industry.


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