Rihanna Just Made History With Her Latest Vogue Cover
Rihanna has just made history again – this time for becoming the first woman to wear a durag on the cover of British Vogue.
A durag is a garment typically worn to encourage the development of braids, waves or dreadlocks, but it represents so much more than that. On a functional level, yes, it’s a hair accessory. But on a deeper level, it’s a celebration of black culture – something Rihanna has frequently acknowledged in the past.
Not only has she worn the durag on several prominent occasions – perhaps most memorably at the CFDA Fashion Awards in 2014 – but it was actually the singer’s idea to include the durag on the Vogue cover in the first place.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful acknowledged the role Rihanna played in his May 2020 editor’s letter, writing: ‘Did I ever think that I would see a durag on the cover of Vogue? No reader, I did not.’
Although this potent symbol of black life – of self-preservation, resistance and authenticity – has an important place in popular culture, it is rarely viewed through the prism of high fashion. Yet here we have the most aspirational and beautiful durag. How exciting.
It takes a person of extraordinary charisma to pull off such a moment. We worked through a substantial archive of visual references (her fashion and cultural knowledge is encyclopaedic) to find a new proposition. Then suddenly, at 2am, my phone pinged with the latest WhatsApp: ‘How about we go with a durag?’
After first being created solely as a way to oppress black female slaves and later being banned by some schools in the US, the durag has since been reclaimed, observer beauty columnist Funmi Fetto wrote in Vogue.
She described the ‘tainted fabric’ as having been reclaimed as a ‘symbol of black beauty, a signifier of style worn on the streets, the catwalk, the red carpet’, before adding: ‘And now, in a powerful mic-drop moment, the durag is making its first appearance on the May 2020 cover of British Vogue, worn by Rihanna.’
This isn’t the first time Rihanna has made history either; just last year, the 32-year-old appeared on her sixth Vogue cover – the most solo American Vogue covers of any black woman in history.
And it looks like she might just carry on making history with the continued success of her lingerie brand Savage x Fenty and make-up brand Fenty Beauty, which effectively changed the diversity game across the industry for the better.
In her extremely honest interview, in line with her cover on which the word ‘truth’ was emblazoned across the singer’s face, Rihanna spoke about her extremely successful brands, saying she ‘refuse[s] to release anything that is not up to par with [her] quality level’.
Most notably though, the singer spoke her truth about racism and the injustices people face worldwide because of the colour of the skin or the country in which they were born.
She explained how it’s ‘hard to turn a blind eye’ to the injustices she witnesses, adding: ‘It’s hard to pretend it’s not happening. The things that I refuse to stay silent on, these are things that I genuinely believe in.’
Since moving to London three years ago, Rihanna says she has been given a different perspective on racism, stating: ‘Racism is alive everywhere. Everywhere.’
The singer continued:
It’s the same [in the UK]. It’s either blatant, which is becoming more and more of a norm, or it’s underlying, where people don’t even know they’re being obvious about it. You know, it’s just a subconscious layer that’s embedded from their entire core.
Rihanna also hinted at her next album, saying that while she ‘can’t say when [she’s] going to drop’, she is ‘very aggressively working on music’. Basically, brilliant news for any RiRi fans. So what can we expect from her new album? ‘There are no rules. There’s no format. There’s just good music, and if I feel it, I’m putting it out,’ she explained.
Don’t worry though, that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a reggae album as rumoured, with the singer stating: ‘Oh no, that is happening. I feel like I have no boundaries. I’ve done everything – I’ve done all the hits, I’ve tried every genre – now I’m just, I’m wide open. I can make anything that I want.’
What an absolute queen.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]