On Thursday, January 14, the publication dropped it’s January/February 2021 cover featuring a portrait of the Fenty Beauty founder, 32. But this isn’t your average, high-fashion photoshoot. Instead the brand commissioned the artist Lorna Simpson to “interpret modern-day beauty in collaboration with the global star,” which resulted in a series of beautiful collages to create a portfolio entitled, “Of Earth & Sky.”
And RiRi was a fan. “Lorna is a legend,” she told Essence. While the idea for the collaboration came from creative director, Jahleel Weaver, the pop star was 100 percent on-board.
“Honestly, I just didn’t think I could get her,” Rihanna said. “But I like reaching for the stars and I like challenging myself.”
It’s no surprise that Simpson was equally as excited to be working with the Ocean’s 8 star. “[Collaborating] with Rihanna and Essence magazine is quite incredible,” Simpson said. “As an artist, I’m able to deliver these unusual images of someone who is so well-known and so recognizable… It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Though the issue doesn’t hit newsstands until January 19, Essence share a sneak peek of the images online. Though we can try to explain the significance and beauty behind the images, Rihanna puts it perfectly: “It’s a natural trifecta. It’s like magic.”
Simpson took to Instagram to celebrate her exciting work and thank everyone who was involved. “At the close of 2020 this project happened,” she wrote in a caption alongside a picture of the cover. “Such a beautiful opportunity and request from Rihanna to collab!!! @badgalriri is an extraordinary force of nature!! thank you!!! & @essence for doing something unorthodox and different with this portfolio of collages with devoted expert care under protections against Covid!! Thank you to @zorasc for your presence on set and extraordinary accompanying essay •Anthems of Possibility• for Essence about Rhianna and what her music and persona has meant and currently means to both of us! I could have not gotten this done without the deep levels of expertise and patience of my studio!!”
She concluded the post, writing, “Here’s to knowing who we are and continuing to do things differently and expansively in 2021!!”
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