It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since Rihanna unleashed her last album Anti on us all but it definitely signalled a period of serious productivity for our favourite badgal. A gruelling international tour schedule followed the album’s release, as well as some epic music videos and let’s not forget collaborations in all avenues of fashion (albeit usually high fashion, but a girl can dream). All of this professional success put RiRi back in the spotlight in a major way, which (of course) allowed for those good old “Are they? Aren’t They?” rumours to start up about her and Drake. And while many agree they would make the perfect power couple, I was much more excited by the sheer amount of Ws Rih added to the board off her own back throughout the year. After testing Instagram’s policies in previous years, I for one was grateful that Rih was back on her baddest in 2016 and as she rings in her 29th year on our humble planet earth, we look back on some of the highlights from the past 12 months.
TL;DR Rihanna probably had a better 2016 than you
After what seemed like the longest lead-up, Rihanna kicked off the year by releasing Anti which was an instant hit and set the tone for a positive year ahead.
‘Needed Me’ was 100% my favourite track off Anti and when poolside photos emerged of Rihanna toting a gun while wearing a sheer turquoise dressing gown, I ~prayed~ that is was for this single’s video. Fast forward a few months and there I was, crying while watching the suitably cinematic, totally badass Harmony Korine-assisted video clip.
Teamwork really made Rih’s year and this collab with Dior was so perfectly extra. Super futuristic and bordering on impractical, only someone with as much of a idgaf attitude as Rihanna can successfully pull this one off.
While we don’t really know the current state of their relationship, 2016 was certainly dominated by the allegedly on-again romance between Rihanna and Drake. With the infectiously good ‘Work’ under their collective names, everyone was hanging on the next time we’d get to see ‘Aubrih’ together. And for good reason. Performances like this one in Manchester set our hearts on fire. Whether or not they now have bad blood, we’ll have to wait and see, but at least we’ll always have moments like this.
There is no such thing as too much Rihanna (imho) so when the badgal managed to visit her own giant, abstract likeness in Berlin, we all exploded a little bit inside.
Rihanna was honoured with the Video Vanguard award at the 2016 MTV VMAs, which meant we got to see her do it large onstage with multiple high-production live performances of all her major hits. This moment also allowed Drake to wear his heart on his sleeve (for a change) when presenting Rih with the award before maybe or maybe not being curved when he went in for a kiss. The exchange was cute but, let’s face it, the night was all about Rihanna and she made sure she owned every moment.
#VMA2016 night was one that I would never forget!! I have the most incredible people in my life! My family, friends, loved ones, my fans, my team!!! All gifted beautiful spirits! And I’m so grateful that God has precisely and flawlessly arranged our paths to meet at each other! It’s because of you that I was able to reach this moment in my career! And it’s also because of you that I was able to pull off a night like this one, with 4 medley performances, 4 set productions, 4 outfits, 4 hair and makeup looks, and all in 4 days of rehearsal! It was a challenge but I wanted nothing more than to give my fans a true representation of all the colors that I’m made of as an artist! My journey has been filled with growth and people who continue to inspire me! Forever grateful to everyone involved creatively, from choreography all the way to wardrobe and production! @MTV team you were a dream to work with! Thank you to the beautiful @iamnaomicampbell @therealmaryjblige @traceeellisross for your kind words! @champagnepapi your speech was so touching and I love you for that! All in all….Best night ever!!! I’m a lucky girl!!! To God be the Glory! #RiRiVanguard
Who could forget this iconic moment in cozy history? Rihanna in a bright red, heart-shaped Saint Lauren fur coat is all-time.
Rihanna, the fashion designer, dropped her second Fenty x Puma apparel collection in 2016, which was showcased at none other than Paris Fashion Week. Always one for the fans (and fam), the show was promoted via, and forecast live on, big bro Jay Z’s Tidal platform, allowing all us regular folks to have a front row view of the new collection. The range was a natural extension of Rih’s boudoir aesthetic of the time and featured lace and silk pastels on both women and men, perfectly combining my constant desire to look put together while feeling like I never got out of bed.
Rih was officially crowned Queen of Shoes when her ever-popular Puma Creeper was chosen as Footwear News’ Shoe of the Year. Much like her predecessor, Kanye West, did with adidas, Rihanna’s foray into footwear was a major factor in Puma’s epic re-emergence in 2016, with every kind of #influencer fighting to get their hands on a pair. The last pack of luxe velvet treatments made sure Fenty fans were satisfied at the end of 2016 but we’re hanging on the next move from this hugely successful collaboration.
She was nominated for a bunch of Grammys at the 2017 event but didn’t go home with a single trophy. Do you think this put a dampener on her night? Absolutely not. RiRi still managed to have basically the most fun, thanks to her best gyal and a fancy af hip flask.