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Why singer Rihanna is the ultimate style heroine for millennials

Superstar Rihanna has often been in the spotlight for her music, but her radical fashion choices have drawn plenty of attention too. And as she grows more confident about what she wears, the Kiss It Better singer has become the millennial crowd’s most daring style hero. (Beyonce is queen of many things and wows with her fashion choices, but manifests a more grown-up elegance and playsit safer than Rihanna.)

Music and fashion have long gone hand in glove: think disco chic and punk rock in the ’70s, Madonna in the 1980s and, more recently, Lady Gaga – who went from meat dress to lobster-inspired hat to 1950s Hollywood glamour, the looks more eccentric than relatable.

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Lately the collaborations have become more formal, involving big brands and super stylists such as Nicola Formichetti. This New York fashion week, Rihanna, who stepped out in white thigh-high heels and a black and white hoodie from her latest Fenty x Puma collaboration, once again proved she can make things work when they shouldn’t. Her campaign images for the brand have been killer, showing her as a leader rather than cheerleader of fashion’s current athleisure obsession. Her own gothic take on sexed-up sportswear has found legions of young fans around the world. How far she’s come since emerging as a scantily clad breakout musician from Barbados.

One fashion high point for Rihanna was picking up the 2014 Style Icon Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which she received in a see-through, pale pink, crystal-embellished gown whose elegant silhouette left little to the imagination. Totally on point, it set off a parade of nude/sheer dresses on America’s red carpets.

As a regular in fashion ads for Dior and others, she is one of the most sought-after front-row guests at fashion week shows, and manoeuvres between glamour and street-style casual with ease. When she opened the MTV Video Music Awards show a few weeks ago, she went from a regal gold belted gown to ’90s sports couture, Hood By Air outfits (again), thigh-high boots and, for the after-party, a luminescent green, fully fringed sheer gown. We feel tired just looking at so much fashion – but delighted nevertheless that, when it comes to style, Rihanna plays entirely by her own rules, and has lashings of attitude.

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