Rihanna is a Collaborator, Not a Mannequin

By  May 29, 2014

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Heavy is the hand that dresses our beloved Rihanna.

“Her love of fashion, her becoming such a genius at using fashion as a creative expression–that’s sort of blossomed in the last couple of years,” Rih’s stylist Mel Ottenberg told The New York Times of his client being named the 2014 CFDA Fashion Icon of the Year. “I saw potential there. I could take that and really do something with that.”

And do something with it, he did. Many consider the man behind Rihanna’s looks to be the reason she’s been catapulted to fashion fame. But the stylist is also humble. He doesn’t take all of the credit for her #fashionkilla status, saying, Rihanna serves as a “collaborator and not a mannequin.”

The Times sat down with Ottenberg to learn more about the man behind the muse. Here are a few other interesting tidbits we garnered from his profile in the Style Section:

1. He begin working for Rihanna during her Loud tour in 2011. He enlisted his boyfriend, Adam Selman and Jeremy Scott to create the costumes.
2. In addition to consulting for Nike, he is the fashion director of Berlin cultural journal, O32c.
3. ApparentlyJohn Galliano has hired him before as his personal stylist (and once made Ottenberg dress him with clothes off of a homeless man’s back, according to rumors).
4. Rihanna wore clothes designed by Selmen (Ottenberg’s boyfriend) in the video “We Found Love.”
5. Riccardo Tisci and Alber Lanvin have created pieces for her Diamonds tour.
6. He’s become a recognizable face after Rihanna placed him as a judge on her reality show, Styled to Rock, alongside Pharrell Williams and Erin Wasson.
7. Ottenberg has gotten so busy, he now has an assistant that deals solely with Rihanna.
8. He’d like to work on a movie or a series in the near future.