Rihanna brings high street to catwalks at big show
Pop singer Rihanna launched her first clothing line with British high-street retailer River Island on Saturday, adding A-list glitz to the British leg of the international fashion circuit.
The fashion credentials of the British high street have flourished in recent years as more household clothing brands inch onto the catwalks of major fashion centres.
Models strutted in a line through a tiered catwalk of five square compartments at Rihanna's show, pausing in each to showcase midriff-baring mesh tops and yellow shift dresses.
Denim tops teamed with slouchy jeans and monochrome dresses with thigh-high slits mirrored the Barbados-born singer's dressed-down but raunchy style.
"I loved it - it's so Rihanna, it's got Rihanna's name all over it," Los Angeles model Tolula Adeyemi said in the crowd.
Rihanna, a chart-topping R&B star, has already made a foray into fashion, teaming up with Armani Jeans in 2011.
With Britain facing the prospect of a triple-dip recession, many retailers have been forced to grapple for consumers facing income squeezes. The start of the year has seen a number of retail casualties, such as the demise of music retailer HMV.
But fashion industry and marketing experts warn A-list credentials are not always a sure-fire strategy for long-term brand success, and the haute-couture setting of the launch could even alienate Rihanna's target mass-market high-street audience.
Mary Ellen Muckerman, head of strategy at international brand consultancy Wolff Olins, said it was not hard for celebrities to create buzz.
"The celebrity has a built-in network to get word out and raise the profile of the collaboration very quickly, but what collaborations do struggle with is probably sustainability - how can this not just be 15 minutes of fame," Muckerman said.
The boyish designs are Rihanna's first with River Island, a clothing chain that traces its history on Britain's high streets back more than 60 years.
The crowd-drawing clothing line between British retailer Topshop and supermodel Kate Moss in 2007 is widely credited with initiating the burst of celebrity lines onto Britain's high street, paving the way for Madonna and Kylie Minogue.