30 Never Looked so Good: A Look at The Evolution of Rihanna

Feb 21 2018 BY Abena Adu

Bad gal Riri’s outchea. Entering the mainstream back in 2005 with Pon De Replay, we couldn’t have guessed that a dozen years later she’d have 8 albums , 7 films  and one of the most successful new beauty brands of 2017 all under her belt. She really did that, and all before she turned 30. What’s more, we haven’t even mentioned her philanthropic efforts. One thing’s for sure, the now 30 year old is living her best life: exploring new avenues and using her influence to help others.

Showing promise from point of debut, Rihanna’s music career successes may well have been predicted by some. Since 2005 her releases have given rise to multiple hits, worldwide No. 1s, and have even led her to break records. Not to mention being awarded nine Grammys too. Her work rate is infallible.

Even though she had two albums to her name by the end of 2006 and was a commercial success with radio airplay, it is no doubt that her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad propelled her into stardom. Who can forget ‘Umbrella’? It dominated the UK charts over the summer of 2007, staying at number 1 for ten consecutive weeks. Looking further afield from the ‘Umbrella’ collaboration, Rihanna’s worked with everyone from SZA to Eminem and Paul McCartney.

She’s dipped her toe into acting too – because, why not? From her cameo in Bring It On, to helping with the representation issue in Hollywood by starring in animated film: Home, Rihanna’s been out here exploring her talents. Her ability to try on different hats and flex her creative muscle is impressive and shows little sign of letting up. As 2018 steams ahead, fans are eagerly awaiting her supporting role in Ocean’s 8 set for Summer Release.



And all the while, Rihanna keeps her philanthropic efforts ticking in the background. Her Clara Lionel Foundation supports people across the globe through investment in innovative local projects and advocacy. To raise more awareness of this, The Diamond Ball began in 2014; this aims to help raise money and awareness of the foundation and its mission.

Even as a role model to fans over the years she’s managed to hold on to her identity, failing to bow to the pressures of appearing perfect in the public eye. We’ve come to learn that she’ll come for you just as hard as you come for her – there’s a whole history of epic clapbacks to prove it.

When it comes to fashion she’s a modern day icon in the truest definition. The self-proclaimed ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ cannot go anywhere unnoticed. She has managed to be such a staple for the tabloids and online media mags, that even during her off-cycle (of not releasing music) she can still be as relevant and in the headlines for what she wears when most artists are hit with the age old “when are you releasing new music?”. You can never truly say that about Riri as she is always in demand. People have a thirst to know what she’s up to.

As far as business goes, her latest venture, Fenty Beauty has seen Ms. Fenty continue to diversify her income streams. Hitting shelves in September 2017, Fenty Beauty took over social media channels boldly stating that it had created shades for all skin tones. This is something which has been a contentious issue within the Make-Up industry so of course, it was a welcome with open arms.

Riri’s plan to champion representation and diversity seems to have worked as within one month of release, it was said that that Fenty had generated $72 million in Earned Media Value. So what’s the secret to the success of Fenty? Leverage.

Rihanna has an undoubtable wide reach and she used this to her advantage as, in 2016, she signed a partnership deal with The Kendo division of LVMH Moët Hennesy Louis Vuitton to create Fenty in its current form.

In addition to this, TIME named Fenty one of the best inventions of 2017, so 2018 and beyond is set to be very exciting for Riri et al.

Rihanna has shown herself to be a shrewd businesswoman, which was perhaps an unlikely title for her 10 years ago. She’s continued to hone her ability to evolve; through diversifying into different but also similar fields to the one she started her career in.

Now,  some people may say that the aim of the game is to secure the bag; i.e. being wealthy equals success. But it should be seen as more than that. Money itself is an avenue to freedom. The freedom to invest in that new idea, the freedom to not have to worry about bills.

Riri’s growth from the fresh-faced 16 year old girl in 2005 to now is a story of talent and self-belief. A reminder to believe in your sauce; to keep learning and growing. To always try new things. As she creeps into her 30s, we can’t wait to see what the next ten years might bring.