The runway show is dead, or at least that’s been the message at New York Fashion Week this season, where fully immersive experiences have stolen the thunder of traditional catwalk presentations. When it comes to performance, though, no designer can even begin to compete with Rihanna. Simply put, this is what she was born to do. Last night, at her Savage x Fenty show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Barbadian superstar reminded the world of the breadth of her exceptional talents.

The rumors that she would be performing a new song from her highly anticipated new album at the show proved false—it was, in fact, Halsey who debuted her new single, “Graveyard,” yesterday. Still, Rihanna did not disappoint. With a set design that seemed to evoke both the grandeur of a Roman coliseum and the elegance of a Moroccan riad, the stage was primed for an epic scene. The lights came up like the sun over the horizon, shining down on a bevy of dancers dressed in all black and posing like heroic statues; in the center was Rihanna. Wearing killer heels, a sheer black body stocking, and a tiny black velvet wrap skirt, with diamonds twinkling at her wrists, the singer kicked off the show with a mesmerizing dance performance that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

The lineup of performers who followed was impressive and included hip-hop heavyweights Migos, DJ Khaled, A$AP Ferg, and rapper-on-the-rise Tierra Whack, who proved to be the night’s breakout music star. The number of fashion cameos was just as major, and they rolled out one after the other. Gigi Hadid led the charge, strutting out in black lingerie and a floor-sweeping black lace veil that gave the Italian widow look a subversive twist. Her sister Bella came next, gliding down the runway with gold coins jangling at the waist of her tangerine bustier. Cara Delevingne graced the scene too, dressed in a lime-green bodysuit and waving a wand in her hand; under her spell, a line of dancers fell to their knees like dominoes. Easily one of the most magical moments of the evening came when Laverne Cox took to the stage. Her insane dance moves and high kicks had the audience on their feet, whooping for joy.


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