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Style & Living Beauty

Rihanna’s Style Evolution: Watch Her Morph From “Umbrella” Singer to 'W' Cover Star

W's September cover star has had one fashion hit after the next. 

By Tamara Palmer
Rihanna's Style Evolution: Watch Her Morph From "Umbrella" Singer to 'W' Cover Star

In the decade since she first topped the charts with her single “SOS” in 2006 at age 18, Rihanna has evolved from a fresh-faced teen pop star to an international couture icon. Since then, she’s dressed like a flapper, a rapper, and a superstar with nothing to hide — remember that infamous see-through dress? Rihanna's fashion journey has included being the face of hot houses like Balmain and Dior and collaborating with legendary footwear designers Manolo Blahnik and Puma; she's also designed sunglasses for Dior, and will appear on the cover W's September issue. Whew! That's a lot of fashion. Let's break it down into some of her most traffic-stopping looks to date. Just try to look away.

Dolled Up Flapper

The infectious refrain of 2007’s worldwide hit “Umbrella,” one of the best selling singles of all time, is likely still stuck in your head. Rihanna accompanied the song visually with an adorable, finger-curled flapper look straight out of the Twenties, and she toted a winsome parasol.

Fashion Soldier

A little black dress with violently spiked shoulders and various topless military getups took center stage in the video for “Hard,” released in late 2009 following her well-documented domestic violence incident with then-boyfriend Chris Brown. These indestructible styles let her fans know that she had won the ultimate war.

The Baller

Clad in thong-ified denim shorts and a diamond, er, boob cage, the “Umbrella” singer made it rain money over twerking strippers in 2012’s “Pour It Up” video. The old-school flapper hair even made a fresh appearance, this time rendered in stark platinum blonde.

Rocker Executive Realness

Rihanna starred in and executive produced Bravo’s Styled to Rock in 2013, a reality fashion competition where designers battled to make clothes for music stars. She paired long, golden tresses with tough black leather and knuckle rings, and assembled a crew of judges that included fellow music star Pharrell Williams.

Barely There Chic

To accept her 2014 CFDA Fashion Icon Award, Adam Selman, one of Rihanna’s favorite designers, created a long dress comprised of 230,000 shining Swarovski crystals—and little else. The combination of elegance and pure moxie launched approximately two zillion style headlines around the world.

Danger Cowgirl

Rihanna’s “Dangerous” shoe collection with Manolo Blahnik, released earlier this year, is aptly named. "Guuurrrl! Those boots are dangerous!” she told Vogue of the holstered and higher than thigh high stiletto denim lace ups. “If you're trying to get back home to your bed, don't wear them boots! You will get kidnapped in those boots, those boots are trouble."

Otherworldly Alien

The new video for “Sledgehammer,” Rihanna’s lead single from the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack, was filmed in IMAX. If you were lucky enough to catch it on the big screen, you are still probably marveling RiRi's incredible extraterrestrial makeup and flowing outfit, which was more than 50 feet in height. It’s one of her most dramatic looks ever, and hints at an even more playful future.

Cover Girl

A video posted by W magazine (@wmag) on

On the cover of W's September issue, the superstar poses as "Furiosa." The character is a warrior queen from the future, ruling over a dark, dystopian dynasty. (And how about that lip ring?!) We can't wait to see the issue.

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