When Rihanna debuted her first Fenty collection at a New York City pop-up on Tuesday, people not only took notice of the clothes, but also the mannequins wearing them. These in-store models weren't the svelte, 24-inch-waist figures displayed at regular retail stores. These mannequins had curves.
One photo from the event, posted by @TeamOfRihanna, made its rounds on Twitter after fans noticed the mannequin in the picture had hips, full breasts, and a little belly.
"Here for this mannequin having hip dips and a little pooch," user @Chaantellie tweeted. "Wow this mannequin is shaped like me," wrote another. Others responded with similar joyous reactions of feeling represented.
"Rihanna’s vision for FENTY is to celebrate femininity in all its form," the brand told BAZAAR.com in a statement. "This Release 6-19 explores another facet of a woman’s wardrobe, one that honors all colors, shapes, curves and styles. We wanted to illustrate the Maison’s inclusive side by showing a size-range of mannequins which represent this reality."
The body shapes of the mannequins varied in size; some seemed to have flatter stomachs, while some had thicker thighs. They might not have technically qualified as "plus size" figures, but with their familiar curves and dips, they resonated with real women. It's important to see as some high-fashion brands still struggle to embrace bigger sizes on the runway and in ads.
Inclusivity is a constant theme in Rihanna's brands. She launched Fenty Beauty with 40 shades of foundation, which especially benefitted people of color who've often had limited options of darker cosmetic shades to choose from. She included a plus-size collection in her Savage x Fenty lingerie line and featured models of various body sizes (including two pregnant women) in the runway show.
The size representation does not stop with her Fenty fashion line, which goes up to the French size 46 (size 14 in the U.S.). "We have our fit models, which is the standard size from factories, you just get your samples made in one size," Rihanna explained to E! News at the pop-up launch. "But then, I want to see it on my body, I want to see it on a curvy girl with thighs and a little bit of booty and hips."
The singer-turned-designer, who's previously opened up about her "fluctuating body type," also credited her changing figure as something that guided her during the design process. "It's all of these things I take into consideration because I want women to feel confident in my stuff," she added.
Size diversity is just as impactful for consumers to see on mannequins as it is on runway models and actual clothes. Racked reported in 2017 that mannequins are the "strongest method of 'silent selling'" and one that "looks or is shaped like like the customer" is more likely to influence sales.
As The Guardian reported in 2015, the average mannequin has the following unrealistic measurements: six-foot height, 34-inch bust, 24-inch waist, and 34-inch hips. But the average American woman is about five foot three with a 38-inch waist, according to the CDC. Fenty isn't the only brand to embrace more realistic body types in its mannequins; J. C. Penny and David's Bridal have already done so, according to Racked, and Nordstrom and Target are adding shapelier mannequins to their stores, The Wall Street Journal reports. But with Fenty, a brand that stands alongside Dior, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton in the LVMH conglomerate, Rihanna is bringing that change to a high-fashion space.