Rihanna's Inclusive Lingerie Brand Received Acclaim. It's now under fire to use sacred Islamic text in a runway show
Rihanna's Inclusive Lingerie Brand Received Acclaim.
It's now under fire to use sacred Islamic text in a runway show
When Rihanna launched the virtual runway display for her Savage X Fenty lingerie range on Friday, some viewers were struck beyond the buzzy musical performances and carefully orchestrated choreography. The show used the song "Doom," music producer Coucou Chloe's track sampling a hadith, sacred Islamic text.
Now, after a weekend of social media backlash, Coucou Chloe released a post on her Twitter Monday, apologizing for using the samples and confirming the removal of the song from all streaming platforms.
Hadiths are sacred Islamic texts reflecting Muhammad's practices or sayings. Attributed to Kuwaiti preacher Mishary bin Rashid Alafasy, the unique hadith audio in the "Doom" study. Rihanna and Savage X Fenty did not respond to comments on the show.
"How's it all right for Rihanna to have a display of people dancing underwear with an Islamic hadith about judgment day playing background? "TikTok user @nad asked his followers in a show video. "If the Bible were used, the whole world would be enraged. How to use the work of the most renowned Islamic scholar as lingerie music? Twitter user @reversecoconut equated the use of the Hadith to cultural appropriation, noting also that in a previous exhibition, models wore scarves around their heads like hijabs before reflecting that "my religion isn't aesthetic."
This is not the first time Muslim culture has become a source of contention for secular purposes.
Lady Gaga sparked a heated debate in 2012 when she started wearing burqa-like clothing, though rumors flew over her releasing a song called "Burqa" that sexualized the clothing (the rumored track is said to be her song "Aura," off her album ARTPOP). And French fashion designer Marine Serre was called upon to use a crescent moon motif, a symbol frequently associated with Islam, regularly used by her brand, as well as design headwear aesthetically similar to hijabs. Serre's headcoverings have been particularly fired after France started implementing a ban on religious face veils or coverings in 2011. But the Savage X Fenty debacle is a rare low moment for a company that has thrived on its inclusive air in the past.
Rihanna's Savage X Fenty lingerie and her past line runway shows and her Fenty Cosmetics line have been lauded for their diverse casting.
When she launched Fenty Beauty in 2017, Rihanna featured prominently hijab-wearing model Halima Aden in her debut campaign, praised for its wide range of 40 shades to fit every skin tone. Her Savage X Fenty runway shows have been particularly praised for their diversity when it comes to race, body types and gender identity — especially when compared to key features in lingerie space, such as the Victoria's Secret fashion show, criticized for lack of ethnic, body and gender diversity. But now some fans who embraced those steps see the runway show as a warning that "inclusivity" still seems to include some groups of people.
So, while Rihanna has demonstrated that diversity can be both an important value and a selling point for a brand, observers have now also made her an example of another side of corporate diversity: even after such a reputation is created, fans will watch to make sure it's still earned.