WRITER, ACNE STUDIOS SHOPGIRL
Written + Photographed By Kelley Mullarkey | Video Produced By Sean Stillmaker
The raw form of fashion is like a nerve ending, a force on sensory overload that wants to test the myths of sartorial freedom and discover the dwellings of one’s imagination.
The combination that makes up each one of our unique personal aesthetics offers ways to escape reality, rejoice memories, fuel nostalgia and most importantly communicate our individuality to the outside world.
This exploration some deem frivolous, Rhianna, a NYC based freelance writer and ACNE Studios Shopgirl, finds pertinent to her livelihood.
In her raw edged sartorial armor, an Anne Demeulemeester white blouse, signature “ice” – Margiela knuckleduster and the three supreme reigning “L’s” – leather, lace and Lang (Helmut Lang that is), Rhianna is a vivacious concoction of Parisian elegance and straight up walking street art. A true living, breathing anomaly.
Before a word even comes out of her mouth you’re visually hooked. Besides being a mega babe, Rhianna strikingly sticks out against the sea of dueling New York City fashion devotees having been blessed with (amazing genes) a non-existent filter, an infectious laugh and the capacity to see the beauty and optimism in everything.
Nestled inside of her cozy Harlem apartment, safely tucked away from the New York summer humidity and spotty thunderstorms, I shyly feel as if I’m in some sort of avant-garde gypsy treehouse.
A gorgeous vintage fur hangs above the kitchen counter and a large graffiti painted Kate Moss x Supreme advertisement that she ripped off a street corner stretches across the living room, while books line all the windowsills. And then there are the notes – a Paris Fashion Week invite left behind by the infamous Anna Dello Russo herself and a shadowboxed monarch butterfly by the door. It’s an unusual tiny place of aesthetic magic that matches Rhianna’s vibrant inspiring personality.
Having recently graduated from Tufts University with a duel-degree in French literature and international visual studies, Rhianna is both insanely smart and completely ridiculously an entrepreneur of cool.
From the walls of her apartment to the clothes hanging in her closet, Rhianna embodies the philosophy that the unexamined life is not worth living.
Raised by a comedic vintage enthusiast father who attended NYU and a mother who studied French gave Rhianna an enriching artistic non-traditional educational upbringing.
Rooted in her heritage, Rhianna has always had a fascination with style. In her monochrome uniform, a slinky white Theyskens Theory leather jacket, ALC dress and BE & D sneaker heels, she recalls how finding a Marc Jacobs blazer for $2 in a vintage bin taught her early on that fashion wasn’t about being a billionaire’s daughter. Soon afterwards a blissful encounter with a German exchange student during her junior year of high school radically changed everything and inspired Rhianna to seek more.
“It was the first time I had ever met a European. We bonded over Gossip Girl and Bergdorf Blondes. She introduced me to this whole magnificent world of culture and life and travel.”
Having only lived in large cites – born and raised in Chicago, studied abroad and interned for Women’s Wear Daily in Paris and now grounded in New York City, Rhianna’s style reads like any big city.
“My friends have dubbed my style as Parisian hood rat,” explains Rhianna.
“It’s nonchalant, a little fucked up, but also channels the classic silhouettes found within typical Parisian styles. There’s a lot of black, white, leather, skin and lace. Some A$AP Rocky hip-hop vibes to it mixed with Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s. It’s a bit grimy, but well lived in and loved.”
The freedom in which Rhianna speaks her mind and views the future is a testimony to the unconditional love she possesses for her ideologies and sartorial plans.
“I actually thought I’d grow up to be a US ambassador,” laughs Rhianna as she reaches across her coffee table to grab the copy of Anomaly, the 50-page magazine that served as her senior project.
Weaving together her eye for visuals and her desire to create change within the industry Rhianna created the one off publication to bring awareness and voice that this is an industry thirsty for authenticity and honesty as much as it is for beauty.
In her editor’s note she writes, “The mass controversy in response to Vogue Italia’s ‘Black Issue’ shows that the industry still has serious issues (no pun intended). To put it simply, while the hemlines might change from season to season, the color and shapeliness (or lack there of) of the legs underneath don’t.”
Far from the high school girl who almost blew her life savings on a 15-piece collection of Lacoste shirts for sale on eBay, Rhianna is the epitome of an uncompromisingly fearless and adventurous soul.
From buying furniture to snagging her beloved and tattered Celine bag straight to landing the most covetable freelance writing job ever listed, creating Parisienne French – the ultimate hip phasebook of French modern slang that a girl needs to know, Rhianna’s use of Craigslist is just another reminder of how she possesses the instincts of a bloodhound, the soul of a free-spirited warrior and the looks and personality of the fiercest bitch around.
With a laundry list of personal future accomplishments in mind it’s refreshing to hear that Rhianna doesn’t mind waiting for it all to fall into place.
“New York City is such a great place to be young and broke and fabulous and open minded. It’s this explosive nest of creativity. The struggle is part of its beauty and charm.”
At the core Rhianna’s expression manifests itself in everything from her writing to her art of self-expression in dressing.
“Fashion has such an impact on my life and everyone else’s. It has the power to transform. People who understand that appreciate that. If you don’t love yourself and present yourself with that ideology to the world then I just don’t see the point.”
A wise woman of nonchalant yet incredibly stylish virtues and an amazing gift to our generation, Rhianna is paving the way towards sartorial freedom.