When it comes to pre-performance rituals, the show literally cannot go on until Rihanna has applied her perfume. And the Fenty Beauty founder doesn’t just wear fragrance. “My mom actually worked in the beauty-and-fragrance industry, so she’d always get a lot of samples and introduce me to the scents when she came home,” Rihanna explains of her long-standing habit of layering different bottles to create a bespoke blend. So when she decided to launch a signature Fenty scent, out 10 August, her goal wasn’t just to add another category to her ever-expanding empire; it was to upend the traditional world of high-end perfumery.
“I didn’t just tell them, ‘Make a fragrance that’s floral or spicy or makes me feel like I’m on the beach’,” the hitmaker jokes of what turned into an extremely hands-on learning experience in Grasse as she became one of the first Black women to make a luxury fragrance in the South of France. “It was symbolic,” French nose Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud says of the perspective-shifting time he spent with the 33-year-old, synthesising snapshots of her life between Barbados, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris into a sensual blend of magnolia, musk, tangerine, blueberry, Bulgarian rose, and patchouli.
The gender-neutral eau de parfum was formulated for an elevated experience, with an elevated, $120 (£86) price tag: Designed to fit into the palm of Rihanna’s own hand, its antique-inspired amber glass bottle creates an intimate exchange with the singer herself, a true testament to the transportive power of perfume.