There are 26 editions of Harper’s Bazaar in the world, and for September 2020, Rihanna is on the cover of every single one of them. I don’t know how often that happens, but… it certainly doesn’t seem commonplace. I can’t think of a better person to splash across the globe than Robyn Fenty, though, and this cover is potent. Not because of the pose — I am not even sure exactly what the pose IS — but because of how she’s staring right at you, right INTO you, right THROUGH you. It’s the very picture of a hold-your-breath moment where, if Rihanna were in front of you and staring ONLY at you, in a second her lips might twitch into a smile or amusement, or derision; her eyes might roll with laughter or with irritation. You don’t know. You’re suspended here in Rihanna’s appraising stare, waiting to find out which way it’s gonna go. I love it.
I don’t know the details of how they did the shoot in these Covid times, but they clearly spared no artistic expense. Rihanna also wears her own makeup, and many of her own clothing line’s offerings, throughout the photo shoot (mixed in with a couple things from, say, Dior), and is captured doing things like taking out the trash in tights and heels, or changing a lightbulb, searching her fridge, eating sushi, alongside the usual stuff of her sprawled on a bed or sitting in a tree (well, okay, that’s not usual for very many people). The story itself is good, an appropriate elegy to how cool and generous and inventive and trailblazing Rihanna is, but the visuals are the key. The RIHANNA of it all is the meat.