Rihanna has recently been named the new face of Dior’s Secret Garden campaign that will be shot at the Palace of Versailles. Her highly anticipated campaign also marks the first time a woman of color has been chosen to front the French fashion house. Rihanna is a frequent guest of all the Dior fashion week events and is always fashion forward. She is consistently unapologetic about her confidence and carefree lifestyle. During a recent interview with MTV Rihanna talked about this opportunity, she stated “It feels fantastic. It is such a big deal for me, for my culture, for a lot of young girls of any color. I think to be acknowledged by Dior means a lot, as a woman, to feel beautiful — to feel elegant and timeless”. In a time when it seems overwhelmingly difficult to meet the beauty standards set for us, Rihanna continues to promote inner beauty and self confidence. It makes total sense why Tom ford named her to be “one of the most beautiful women” he has ever seen.
This announcement comes at an interesting time for women of color who frequently find themselves being “changed” or altered in media representation. Recently Kerri Washington spoke out about her cover of in-style where her skin was very clearly lightened. Many were outraged by the media’s constant need to make Black and Brown women conform to the conventional beauty standards of whiteness. We need to acknowledge that the intersection of beauty standards, race and Photoshopping in the media send an overwhelmingly negative message to young females, especially young females of color.
The iconic choice of a woman of color for the Dior campaign may be hope for our future. Dior has not always had a history of diversity or respect. In 2011 the brand came under fire for the anti-Semitic comments made by chief designer John Galliano. He was quickly fired and Dior made strong efforts to distance themselves from his statements and lack of character. Hopefully Rihanna’s partnership with Dior will help normalize the employment of Models who are women of color. Beverly Johnson, the first black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue, had this to say about women of color in the fashion industry, “ …We live in a diverse world. If you’re not participating at that level, you’re not part of the world. People need to see people as people”.